Ralph Brown British, 1928-2013

Brown came to national prominence in the late 1950s with his large-scale bronze Meat Porters, commissioned for Harlow New Town, Essex. Prior to this, he won a number of scholarships including a trip to Paris to work in the studio of Ossip Zadkine where he also saw work by Rodin and Germain Richier and met Giacometti. In 1957 he won the Boise Scholarship to Italy and studied Etruscan Sculpture. Brown also worked in Cannes making mosaics for Picasso and was inspired by the work of Marino Marini and Giacomo Manzu.

 

Like Moore, who befriended him and encouraged him by buying his work, Brown’s art is deeply rooted in the figurative tradition. However, whilst his predecessors focused their energies on carving and maintaining ‘truth to materials’, Brown concentrated on modelling allowing him to interact with his material on a more intimate level. In the introductory catalogue essay for Brown’s major retrospective show at Leeds City Art Gallery in 1988, Dennis Farr commented :

 

So much of Brown’s sculpture is his search for equivalents, in formal terms, for sensual experiences.”

 

During the fifties, Brown’s work attracted much critical acclaim and was shown alongside his contemporaries Armitage, William Turnbull and Eduardo Paolozzi. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, when abstraction prevailed in British sculpture, Brown remained faithful to the human figure.