Artist biography

Leon UNDERWOOD b. 1890

Sculptor, wood engraver, painter and writer. Born 25 December 1890 in London. Studied at the Regent Street Polytechnic 1907–10, the R.C.A. 1910–13, and (after war service 1914–18 as Captain in the R.E. Camouflage Section) at the Slade School 1919–20. Won a premium in the Rome Prize competition 1920 but instead of going to Italy went to Iceland. Started his own school of drawing 1921. First one-man exhibition at the Chenil Galleries 1922. Visited Holland 1911, Russia 1913, Dalmatia and Italy 1925; went to the United States and Canada 1926–7 and published Animalia; travelled in Mexico 1928, studying Mayan and Aztec sculpture, and in Spain studying cave paintings. Reopened his drawing school in 1931 and founded the magazine The Island, to which Henry Moore and C. R. W. Nevinson contributed. Wrote Art for Heaven's Sake 1934. Served in Civil Defence Camouflage 1939–42. Visited West Africa 1945 and wrote several books on African art. Retrospective exhibition at the Kaplan Gallery 1961.

Published in:
Mary Chamot, Dennis Farr and Martin Butlin, The Modern British Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, London 1964, II