Willi Soukop

Owl

1961–2

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Medium
Polyphant stone on slate base
Dimensions
Object: 450 x 280 x 310 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Presented by the Trustees of the Chantrey Bequest 1963
Reference
T00594

Display caption

Born in Vienna, Soukop studied at the Academy of Fine Art there from 1928-34. In 1934 he left Austria and came to Britain, living and working at Dartington Hall, near Totnes, from 1934-40. His first one-man show was at the Stafford Gallery, London, in 1938. He exhibited his sculpture widely and regularly sent work to the Royal Academy Summer exhibitions. He wrote that the block of stone from which 'Owl' was carved had been standing in his studio for years and came from a disused quarry at St Austell, Cornwall. The carving was carried out over a period of two years and began as a doodle, suggested in part by the presence of a resident owl in Soukop's north London garden.

Gallery label, August 2004

Catalogue entry

T00594 OWL 1961–2

Not inscribed.
Polyphant stone, 16 1/2×12×12 (42×30·5×30·5), on circular slate base, 10 1/4 (26) diameter×1 (2·5).
Chantrey Purchase from the artist 1963.
Exh: R.A., 1963 (1233).

The artist wrote (8 September 1963) that the block of polyphant stone from which the ‘Owl’ was carved had been standing in his studio for years and came from a now disused quarry at St Austell, Cornwall. The carving was carried out over a period of two years, 1961–2, and began as a doodle, perhaps suggested in part by the presence of a resident owl in the sculptor's London garden. The medium lent itself to smooth, precise shapes, clean and inviting to the touch, and made a welcome contrast to the rough-textured stone the sculptor had been working on previously.

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

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