EXHIBITION CATALOGUE: PRESENCE: The Figure in British Postwar and Contemporary Sculpture
Publication to accompany the exhibition Presence: The Figure in British Postwar and Contemporary Sculpture featuring all artists and works in the exhibition together with a lead essay by curator Wilfrid Wright.

Held in the 13th century tithe barn at Messums West, PRESENCE: The Figure in British Postwar and Contemporary Sculpture is the latest in Messums’ 2024 season of sculptural exhibitions. Following on from De Nadder, a soundscape exhibition with no physical objects, encouraging the audience to meditate on the space around them and the sculptural and image-making qualities of sound, Presence takes this range of world-class postwar and contemporary figurative sculpture to ask the question, ‘what gives an inanimate object the emotive presence of a living being?’ It explores the myriad ways in which artists have approached the representation of the human body in sculpture since 1945, encouraging the visitor to reflect on their own perceptions of the body, how we as a species communicate through body language, and what it means to objectify the human body in art. It opens a conversation about what constitutes figurative sculpture, and why artists return, time and again, to this most dominant and enigmatic subject in art history.

The exhibition showcases some of the finest examples of postwar and contemporary figurative sculpture created in Britain, and explores the myriad materials and techniques employed by artists to tackle this most dominant and enigmatic subject in art history. The artworks range in style, medium and date, but they all share a preoccupation with the human body as a central theme.

Exhibiting artists: Kenneth Armitage, Jonathan Baldock, Glenys Barton, Jacob van der Beugel, Christie Brown, Ralph Brown, Reg Butler, Lynn Chadwick, Michael Cooper, John Davies, Laurence Edwards, Abigail Fallis, Dame Elisabeth Frink, Antony Gormley, Sean Henry, Nicola Hicks, Michael Hulls, John Humphreys, Alice Kettle, Tim Lewis, Briony Marshall, Henry Moore, Tess Morley, Dame Rachel Whiteread, Yinka Shonibare, William Turnbull, Yan Wang Preston, Emily Young and Carlos Zapata.