Teddy Boy and Girl II

Larger Image . Map It . Previous . Next . Home

Teddy Boy and GirlArtist - Lynn Chadwick
Born - 1914
Origin - England
Year Built - 1957

About the Artist: Lynn Chadwick is part of the second wave of British modernists that gained international acclaim in the 1950s. Although he trained and worked as an architectural draughtsman from 1933-39, Chadwick turned to sculpture after his service as a pilot in the Fleet Air Arm. By 1950, he had received critical attention in Great Britain. He showed at the 26th Venice Biennale in 1952 and the 28th Biennale in 1956 where he received the International Sculpture Prize.

Teddy Boy and Girl II, 1957, is a variation of Teddy Boy and Girl, which Chadwick exhibited at the 28th Venice Biennale. The male and female figures, called "Teddy" in reference to the Neo-Edwardian dress popular among the working class youth of the 1950s, stand facing each other. The rectangular male stands with claw-like arms raised, an active pose compared to the relative passivity of the triangular female. Both are bisected by a vertical indentation; this formal element not only accentuates the volumes of the figures, but it may refer subtly to the genitalia of each. Herbert Read described the suggestive sexuality and geometric proportions of Chadwick's figures as "images of flight, of ragged claws 'scuttling across the floors of silent seas', of excoriated flesh, frustrated sex, the geometry of fear. Gone forever is the serenity, the monumental calm, that Winckelmann had imposed on the formal imagination of Europe; gone too, the plastic stress of Rodin." Although Chadwick disagreed with some of the psychoanalytic excesses of Read's essay, he did admit that "art must be the manifestation of some vital force coming from the dark, caught by the imagination and translated by the artist's ability and skill. When we philosophize upon this force, we lose sight of it." Despite the somewhat humorous reference to fashion in the title, Teddy Boy and Girl II with its monstrous appendages and its sublimated sexuality appeals to the darker side of human experience.