May 2018

Barbarian, Rebel, Pioneer: Jacob Epstein ‘taking the brickbats for modern art’. Evelyn Silber

Welcome to The Arts Society Welwyn Garden
Wednesday, May 16, 2018 - 10:30

In 1959, Henry Moore paid tribute to Sir Jacob Epstein (1880-1959) as the man who "took the brickbats for modern art, and as far as sculpture in this country is concerned, he took them first." American born, trained in Paris, he lived and worked in England from 1906 onwards. Epstein soon became known both as a pioneer of direct carving influenced by non-European art, and a prominent member of the pre-1914 London avant-garde. Though he later became the leading portrait sculptor of his generation he was also a confrontational figure who challenged sexual taboos and whose larger scale work, like that of Stanley Spencer, took a highly individual and controversial path. This talk will consider some the works that became the stuff of cartoons, limericks, music hall jokes and were even shown in a Blackpool side show. These include his sculptures for the British Medical Association Building in the Strand (1907-8), his relief carving of Rima for the W H Hudson memorial in Hyde Park (1924-5), his sculptures for the London Underground and the sequence of large free-standing carvings, including Genesis, Adam and Jacob and the Angel, produced during the 1930s.


Dr Evelyn Silber

Educated at the Universities of Cambridge and Pennsylvania, worked at Birmingham Museums and Art Galleries, then 1995-2001, Director of Leeds Museums and Galleries. 2001-6 Director of the Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery, University of Glasgow. Author of books on Jacob Epstein and Gaudier-Brzeska. Has lectured for societies, universities and museums in Britain and the USA. Former Chair of Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society. Lectured for ADFAS in Australia and The Arts Society in New Zealand in 2014. Advises and leads cultural tours in and around Glasgow.