Pound directed the posthumous critical reputation of Gaudier-Brzeska as a sculptor at the vanguard of European modernism, killed before reaching the prime of his career. He published his Memoir
of the sculptor in 1916 and organised the Gaudier-Brzeska Memorial Exhibition
at the Leicester Galleries in London in 1918. Other memoirs and biographies were released in the 1920s and 1930s, most notably Jim Ede’s book Savage Messiah
(1930 and 1931), blurring the realities of Gaudier-Brzeska’s career with myths and legends and creating from his life something of a ‘bohemian melodrama’, according to the art historian Evelyn Silber.2
These accounts coincided with a wave of interest in Gaudier-Brzeska’s work by a new generation of sculptors such as Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth and Frank Dobson, who were drawn to Gaudier-Brzeska’s technique of carving directly into stone, wood, plaster and other materials. While the Frenchman’s reputation has rested largely on his stone carvings, in recent years art historians and curators have returned to Gaudier-Brzeska’s small but impressive output of sculptural works in a range of materials including plaster, wood, bronze and brass, as well as his drawings and a handful of paintings and texts written for the leading avant-garde journals of the time. The focus of this project, the carved plaster relief Wrestlers
(fig.1), throws new light onto the innovative ways in which he experimented with sculptural materials at the beginning of the twentieth century.