Maquette IV Inner Eye demonstrates a key moment in the development of Chadwick's early work. While working in the architect's office of Rodney Thomas, Chadwick began working on mobile structures, which led to his first solo show at Gimpels in 1951. Dating from 1952, the present work shows the progression that Chadwick made from mobile to stabile at this time. Similar to The Fisheater, 1951 (Tate, London) (fig. 1), Maquette IV Inner Eye has a static base, however, unlike the large Tate piece, the emphasis has shifted from the mobile element to the more solid supporting structure.
Edward Lucie-Smith comments, 'A piece like The Inner Eye may seem to have quasi-mystical connotations because of its title. Its real thrust, however, is towards a detatched exploration of both forms and materials - despite, for example, the critic Robert Melville's thought that 'the effect of this dramatic juxtaposition of substances - the one opaque, the other filled with light - is to increase the construction's awareness of danger and capacity for fear, for the gob of glass seems to operate as an organ of sense.' Looked at in detatchment from the political climate of the time, this seems like a reckless use of the pathetic fallacy, although Chadwick himself does admit that the piece was probably inspired by a dream, of a 'curious mobile fish with pieces of crystal in its segments' (see E. Lucie-Smith, Chadwick, Stroud, 1997, pp. 16-7). This reference to a fish in Chadwick's dream explains the title that the present work was exhibited with in 1952, 'Inner Fish No. 2'.
Chadwick's work was shown alongside sculptors including Robert Adams, Reg Butler, Geoffrey Clarke, Bernard Meadows, Eduardo Paolozzi and William Turnbull in the British Council's exhibition, New Aspects of British Sculpture at the 1952 Venice Biennale. In describing the work produced by these British sculptors Herbert Read wrote in the accompanying exhibition catalogue, 'These new images belong to the iconography of despair, or of defiance ... Here are the images of flight, of ragged claws 'scuttling across the floors of silent seas', of excoriated flesh, frustrated sex, the geometry of fear ... They have seized Eliot's image of the Hollow Men, and given it an isomorphic materiality. They have peopled the Waste Land with their iron waifs'. Created at a time when the world was still recovering from World War II and the shock of the devastation caused by the atom bombs the strange spiky forms of Maquette IV Inner Eye convey a strong sense of uneasiness and aggression that was to characterise the collective fear of entering the nuclear age.
This maquette is one of five that Chadwick made in preparation for the 90 in. high The Inner Eye, 1952 (Museum of Modern Art, New York) (see fig. 2). There is another version, which is 11 in. high, Maquette III Inner Eye, 1952, in the colllection of the Tate Gallery, London (see fig. 3). J.P. Hodin comments, 'The most outstanding of the balanced forms is The Inner Eye which is a structure consisting of a cell-shaped front plane with a round hole combined with a cage and four supporting legs. Through the hole a piece of glass is fixed into a movable mounting is visible. The composition evokes a biomorphic connotation, ribs sheltering a soft inner organ, a shield-like exterior ... The animal form suggests the human, a metamorphosis which by way of a shock gives the beholder a sensation of the unprecedented. The transitoriness of all living substance, be it man, animal or plant, is suggested as well' (see Chadwick, London, 1961, p. 7).
The present work formed part of the collection of Nelson A. Rockefeller and he included the work when he sent a selection of paintings, sculptures and drawings to the Executive Mansion, Albany on his appointment as governor of New York. He placed Maquette IV Inner Eye in the sitting room, alongside works by Georges Braque, Pablo Picasso and Elie Nadelman (see fig. 4).
Alfred H. Barr, Jr comments on the works chosen for the Executive Mansion, 'Such things had never been seen before in Albany, and it took singular boldness to confront the state legislators with such strange and daring works. On December 31, 1958, only a few hours were available between the departure of the outgoing Governor Harriman and Nelson Rockefeller's first grand dinner party. He has asked Dorothy Miller, curator at The Museum of Modern Art, to help hang the pictures and place the sculptures. When she arrived, she found some eighty works hastily stacked all over the first floor along with television sets, luggage and other things which had arrived from New York the day before. Within an hour, and minutes before Nelson himself arrived, she had a tentative plan ready for his approval, without which she could not go into action because he always liked to arrange his collection himself, so personal was his involvement. He threw off his jacket at once, refused all telephone calls, and spent the next three hours, his first visit to Albany, working on the installation. Every wall space was used, and furniture, mantel ornaments, lamps, and plants were banished in order to make more room for art. Members of the family and their guests began arriving and were pressed into service to help finish the show and finally to stow away the leftovers in closets upstairs. On New Year's Day, after the inauguration, hundreds of official guests attended the formal reception in the Executive Mansion. They found the Victorian house newly embellished with splendid works by Matisse, Picasso, Klee, Tobey, Feininger, Noguchi, Nadelman, and many others' (see W.S. Lieberman and A.H. Barr, op. cit., pp. 24-5).