William Turnbull (1922-2011)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more PROPERTY FROM A DISTINGUISHED PRIVATE COLLECTOR
William Turnbull (1922-2011)

Leaf Venus 2

William Turnbull (1922-2011)
Leaf Venus 2
signed with monogram, dated and numbered '86/ 4/ 4' and stamped with the Morris Singer foundry mark (at the base)
bronze with a dark brown patina, on York stone base
46 in. (116.8 cm.) high, excluding base; 52 in. (132 cm.) including base
with Ann Kendall Richards, New York, where purchased by the present owner in November 1999.
Exhibition catalogue, William Turnbull: Sculptures 1946-62, 1985-87, London, Waddington Galleries, 1987, p. 53, no. 20, another cast illustrated.
Exhibition catalogue, William Turnbull Neue Skulpturen, Berlin, Galerie Michael Haas, 1992, no. 5, another cast illustrated.
Exhibition catalogue, William Turnbull: Sculpture and Paintings, London, Serpentine Gallery, 1995, p. 65, pl. 45, another cast illustrated.
A.A. Davidson, The Sculpture of William Turnbull, Much Hadham, 2005, pp. 51-52, 68, 168, no. 240, another cast illustrated.
London, Waddington Galleries, William Turnbull: Sculptures 1946-62, 1985-87, October - November 1987, no. 20, another cast exhibited.
Berlin, Galerie Michael Haas, William Turnbull Neue Skulpturen, October – November 1992, no. 5, another cast exhibited.
London, Serpentine Gallery, William Turnbull: Sculpture and Paintings, November 1995 - January 1996, no. 45, another cast exhibited.
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Lot Essay

The genesis of Leaf Venus 2 can be traced back to a trip to Singapore in 1962. Amanda Davidson explains that ‘Turnbull became interested in the luxuriant plant life of the region. He produced studies in sketchbooks of natural forms, plants and leaves in watercolour or pencil. Some of these images were explored further in series of prints on the themes of leaves and in later sculptures, such as Leaf Venus 2, 1986’ (op. cit., p. 52). The leaf has parallels with other everyday objects which are given focus by the artist and which evolve into hieratic sculptures. Davidson continues, ‘The new idols are often a synthesis between the human figure [for example Cycladic sculpture] and other subjects, including the combination of figures and plants in Leaf Venus 2, 1986 … This series of anthropomorphic figures is also related to objects from other cultures, such as the ceremonial spoons and vessels in African cultures, including those created by the Dan people from the Ivory Coast and Liberia in West Africa. The Dan spoons are frontal art objects that emphasise the fertile female form. They are used to express hospitality, but additionally are in daily use’ (op. cit., pp. 68-69).

David Sylvester comments, ‘When Turnbull returned to making monolithic figures after an interval of about twenty years, the figures were much more slender than they had been before. What had once the proportions of a column now had those of a plaque, a tablet. This was a demanding course to take, because a flimsy standing figure, even if it manages to stay erect, risks looking weak and pathetic. There’s a well known Turnbull quote that reads: ‘How little will suggest a head?’ and in his recent figures he seems to be asking himself: How little substance can a structure have and still hold its own in space? … I wonder whether these forms are not also an unconscious memory of the aircraft wings which he lived with for four years while a wartime pilot in the RAF. The plaques serenely carve their way through the air so that existence in space approaches a condition of pure movement or stance liberated from mass’ (see exhibition catalogue, Serpentine Gallery, op. cit., p. 10).

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