John Milne

Gnathos

1960

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Not on display

Artist
John Milne 1931–1978
Medium
Bronze on marble base
Dimensions
Object: 641 × 864 × 375 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Presented by Professor Cosmo Rodewald 1971
Reference
T01449

Catalogue entry

John Milne b. 1931

T01449 Gnathos 1960

Inscribed ‘John E.Milne. 1966’ at bottom of vertical end face of bronze. Polished bronze on black Belgian marble base, 25¼ x 34 x 14¾ (64 x 86.5 x 37.5).
Presented by Professor Cosmo Rodewald 1971.
Coll: Professor Rodewald.
Exh: St Ives Group 3rd Exhibition (exhibition of works by members of the Penwith Society of Arts), Austin Reed Gallery, July–August 1971 (Sculpture 20), where dated 1967 in error.

The artist wrote (letter of 18 February 1972) that the bronze element in T01449 was cast from an original wood carving dated 1960. This bronze element, which measures 23¼ x 24¼ x 9½ (59 x 62 x 24), was cast in 1966, and the date 1960–6 for T01449 is an expression of its dependence on the earlier work. The artist considers the marble base ‘a part of the work and it is for this reason that it is irregularly shaped to accentuate the “movement” of the bronze’. There were many drawings for ‘Gnathos’, of which all but two were destroyed; one belongs to Mr George Tavernite and the other to the artist. ‘Gnathos’ was made in two editions, each of three casts. In one edition the bronze is patinated. T01449 is 2/2 in the polished bronze edition, of which 1/2 belongs to the Arts Council of Great Britain and 0/2 to the artist. 1/2 was reproduced in the catalogue of Milne’s exhibition at the Marjorie Parr Gallery in October 1969. The artist wrote: ‘I often cast works with more than one type of finish in order to be absolutely sure that the final result is the most perfect that I can obtain. I consider the polished bronze of Gnathos as the ultimate fulfilment of my original idea. The Greek word “Gnathos” means “jaw” or “jawbone” which describes my feeling of “biting” or “getting ones teeth into” something, be that something my life or my work—this was the emotion of the sculpture. Gnathos was a complete change of direction in my work at that point (1960). I have since carried out many other sculptures and reliefs which continue this pincer-like feeling amongst which are Totemic II and the relief Icarus.’

Published in The Tate Gallery Report 1970–1972, London 1972.

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