This display focuses on a group of young artists in the 1960s who embraced the possibilities of new materials. Many first came to public attention through the Whitechapel Gallery’s 1965 The New Generation exhibition.
These sculptors turned away from conventional techniques of carving and modelling. In place of stone, clay, wood or bronze they used colourful modern materials, including plastic sheeting and fibreglass. Their work was abstract, rather than representing figures or objects.
The New Generation was the title of a series of exhibitions at the Whitechapel Gallery in London in the mid-1960s. David Annesley, Michael Bolus, Phillip King, Tim Scott, William Tucker and Isaac Witkin featured in the second of these exhibitions in spring 1965. These sculptors had studied under Anthony Caro at St Martin’s School of Art.
Caro pioneered fresh, explorative approaches, using industrial materials and presenting works directly on the floor. His example led others to find their own innovative methods and materials. The same generation as Caro, William Turnbull had independently started to use new materials and had abandoned the plinth for his abstract sculpture. His work in this period resonates with the concerns of the New Generation.
The writings of the American critic Clement Greenberg were also a strong influence on the New Generation sculptors. He in turn called their work ‘the strongest new sculpture done anywhere in the world at this moment’.
The works on display commemorate the generous gift by Alistair McAlpine to Tate of 60 coloured British sculptures in 1971.