Lot 30
  • 30

Reg Butler

Estimate
30,000 - 50,000 GBP
Sold
97,500 GBP
bidding is closed

Description

  • Reg Butler
  • Tcheekle Macaw's Head
  • stamped with Artist's monogram and foundry mark, and numbered 1/8
  • bronze

Provenance

Pierre Matisse, New York, 1962
Private Collection, New York
Sale, Christie’s London, 13th December 2012, lot 212, where acquired by the present owner

Exhibited

New York, Pierre Matisse Gallery, Reg Butler: Recent Sculpture: 1959-1962, 30th October - 17th November 1962, cat. no.30;
London, Hanover Gallery, Reg Butler: Sculpture and Drawings, July - September 1963, cat. no.7 (another cast);
Louisville, Kentucky, J.B. Speed Art Museum, Reg Butler: A Retrospective Exhibition, 22nd October - 1st December 1963, cat. no.97 (another cast).

Literature

Herbert Read, Contemporary British Art, Penguin Books Ltd, Harmondsworth, 1964, illustrated pl.2 (another cast);
Warren Forma, Five British Sculptors (Work and Talk), Grossman, New York, 1964, p.119 (another cast);
Margaret Garlake, The Sculpture of Reg Butler, The Henry Moore Foundation in association with Lund Humphries, 2006, cat. no.215, illustrated p.51, fig.44 (another cast).

Catalogue Note

Tcheekle Macaw's Head belongs to an important body of work for Reg Butler, and he explained the significance extensively himself:
'The boxes that preoccupy me so much - the tcheekles, the towers - have gone on for a very large part of my life. I've always been interested in boxes - camera boxes, radio boxes, magic boxes, containers with things happening in them and so on - and in this particular phase, this sort of 1960-63 period, I seem to have turned the boxes into towers, as it were...I think of them as great structures as much as the English follies of the eighteenth century.

'The boxes, the towers, the tcheekles that I've made that have been projects for big ones, of course, were intended to be very large indeed. The one called The Macaw's Head is, in fact, a project for a tower about sixty or seventy feet high, and it's intended to have staircases and labyrinths and trap doors and rooms all built in bronze with figures in them, or empty, and slots and windows and so on. In a sense, it's kind of symbolic architecture because it transcends the normal sculptural scale, and I think one of the reasons for that may be that perhaps now, in the twentieth century, there's something a little indecent about visualizing figurative sculptures of enormous size. We don't think of mankind as being a suitable occasion for great God-like constructions. I think we have lost that in the existence of Freud, in the existence of Newton, in the existence of Galileo - the whole idea of man being the center of the universe - and therefore a right and fitting subject for a God-like sculpture may be something which no longer exists, certainly not in my world, anyhow. But I do like to project myself and think about huge sculptures, and perhaps these boxes are the solutions I've found for that particular problem.

'This tower of mine, the one I call The Macaw's Head, raises a slightly peculiar problem because, you see, for me the sculpture consists of two parts. It consists of this tower, which is in one sense an object in its own right, and in another sense a maquette for an enormous object sixty to seventy feet high. It consists of that and it consists of a man. Now the man is not in scale with the tower; it is not intended to be, and he's not intended to inhabit precisely the same space as the tower...They are connected, but the connection is emotional and not physical. Maybe the man is me, or maybe the man is the eternal observer of the tower...Always I had the man around, and he stood and looked at the tower, or stood behind the tower or at the foot of the tower, and he belongs to it and it belongs to him; but, as I say, not in the physical sense, in the emotional sense.'

(Reg Butler, quoted in Warren Forma, 5 British Sculptors (Work and Talk); Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth, Reg Butler, Lynn Chadwick, Kenneth Armitage, Grossman Publishers, New York, 1964, pp.119-123)

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