Five sculpture shows

  • 9 March 2016

Pacing cats, downcast cartoon characters and fluorescent structures of light – it’s an exciting season for sculpture this spring.

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Alberto Giacometti: A Line through Time

Robert and Lisa Sainsbury were personal friends of Giacometti, and the gallery they founded contains the largest collection of his work in the country. They first met in 1949 when the couple – who were renowned for their ability to spot emerging talent – bought one of Giacometti’s works, which was a vital show of support for the artist at a time when he was struggling to establish himself. Marking the 50th anniversary of Giacometti’s death, this exhibition includes examples of his paintings, drawings and sculpture, as well as previously unpublished archival material documenting his important relationship with the Sainsburys.



KAWS’ dystopian reimaginings of iconic animated characters pervade the indoor and outside spaces of the park in this first UK museum exhibition of his work. The artist started out in the 1990s with graffiti, tagging walls and freight trains with the letters KAWS and a cartoon-like soft skull with crossbones and crossed-out eyes. After stints as a freelancer for a range of animation studios, he developed further his signature comic-book-style characters. The sculptures are far from the jolly smiley-faced figures we remember: here they appear with head in hands, or slump-shouldered, world-weary and disheartened. The effect is a strange mix of nostalgia, compassion, surprise and despair.


Laura Ford: Seen and Unseen

Weeping girls, pacing cats, elephants dressed in nightwear… Laura Ford describes her work as ‘sculptures dressed as people who are dressed as animals’. Conceived of as a means by which to explore aspects of the human condition, her anthropomorphic sculptures are at once entertaining and disturbing. This spring Ford’s imaginative creations – including examples of both her early and recent practice – are displayed simultaneously at Abbot Hall Art Gallery (until 25 June) and Blackwell.


Dan Flavin: It Is What It Is and It Ain’t Nothing Else

The exhibition takes its name from a statement made by the artist, who resisted attempts to impress any kind of symbolism on his work. He spoke out against ‘art for art’s sake’, believing instead that a piece should refer to nothing but its factual presence. After initially training as a priest and then serving in the air force, where he studied art through an extension programme, Flavin began making sketches for sculptures that incorporated electric lights. One was dedicated to his twin brother David, who had died of polio, initiating a theme for naming pieces after artists and friends who inspired him. Included in this exhibition are his tributes to Donald Judd, Vladimir Tatlin, Jasper Johns and Roy and Dorothy Lichtenstein.


Giacomo Manzù: Sculptor and Draughtsman

Aside from a few evening classes, Giacomo Manzù was largely self-taught. He first started working with wood during his military service in the late 1920s, and within a decade his sculpture was being exhibited to widespread public acclaim. During his career the artist produced many notable works, including a series of bronze bas-reliefs about the death of Jesus Christ, portraits of his wife Inge Schabel and her sister Sonja, and the Gate of Death for St Peter’s Basilica. This exhibition focuses on examples of both his sculptural and sketching practice, revealing the similarities between the two.

Tags: ExhibitionsWhat to see