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Object Description

Ed. 6/8, stamped RB, with foundry mark Susse Fondeur Paris

Reg Butler, Hanover Gallery, London, 22 April – 4 June 1954,
Reg Butler, Curt Valentin Gallery, New York, 11 January – 5 February 1955, Reg Butler: Exhibition of Sculpture, Hanover Gallery, London, May–June 1957,
1961 Pittsburgh International Exhibition of Contemporary Painting and Sculpture, Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, USA October 1961 – January 1962, Reg Butler: A Retrospective Exhibition, J.B. Speed Art Museum, Louisville, USA, 22 October – 1 December 1963, (another cast illustrated)

Artist’s Resale Right applies @ plus 4%Date 1953

Object Literature

A. Franklin Page, ‘Recent Gifts from the Friends of Modern Art’, Bulletin of the Detroit Institute of Arts, vol.6, no.3 (1956–7), p.70, 71 (another cast illustrated) Margaret Garlake, The Sculpture of Reg Butler (London: The Henry Moore Foundation in association with Lund Humphries, 2006), p.137, (another cast illustrated)

In May 1957, Butler’s exhibition at the Hanover Gallery in London was received as the first to confirm the completeness of his ‘conversion from a constructional technique … to one of solid and naturalistic modelling.’(1) He had constructed standing female figures using wire or forged and welded iron rods since the late 1940s. Now, however, he was casting rounded, volumetric forms in bronze. The critic for The Times noted that as Butler’s work progressed from ‘tortured and fragmentary lumps of flesh’ amid scaffolding to figures such as Cassandra (1953) and Girl (1956–7), the latter stretching to remove her clothing, his ‘theme becomes solely that of the female body explored with ever ripening sensuality.’(2) Cassandra is nonetheless a relatively demure example, her long neck craning upwards to recall the watching figures Butler envisaged to accompany his Maquette for the Monument to the Unknown Political Prisoner (1951–2).

A cast of Cassandra was among the first contemporary sculptures to be acquired for the Detroit Institute of Arts in 1957, by the curator, Addison Franklin Page. This same cast was included in the first retrospective of Butler’s work held in the United States, at the J.B. Speed Art Museum in Louisville, in 1963, in an exhibition comprising 104 works, including 61 sculptures. Butler’s work maintained a strong presence in the United States during this period. When his bronzes began to be cast by Susse Frères in Paris, half of every edition was sent to the Pierre Matisse Gallery in New York, thus attracting a considerable number of private collectors. Public institutions to hold casts of Cassandra include the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden at the Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC. (1) ‘Change in method’, The Times, 21 May 1957, p.3. (2) ibid.

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