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BERNARD MEADOWS

b. 1915, Norwich, England
d. 2005, London, England 

Bernard Meadows was a British Modernist sculptor, and the longest-serving and most notable assistant to Henry Moore. Born in Norwich, England, he was the son of middle-class parents. As a young man, he begged his parents to allow him to enroll at the Norwich School of Art, where he received a very traditional painting education. During this time, a mutual friend of Meadows and Henry Moore offered to arrange a visit to Moore's studio for Meadows. After the visit, Moore wrote to Meadows, offering him a position at the studio. Throughout his career, Meadows would return time and time again to Moore's side, helping him with this art and, in the 1980s, helping an elderly and ailing Moore prepare to pass on. In 1936, at the young age of twenty-one, Meadows participated in the first Surrealist exhibition in London. However, the war put a halt on Meadows artistic efforts. He first registered as a conscientious objector, but when Hitler invaded the Soviet Union, Meadows decided that the time for pacifism was over, and he enrolled instead in the Royal Air Force. He was sent to the remote Cocos Islands in the middle of the Indian Ocean, where he became fascinated with the giant crabs endemic to the islands. Echoes of their anthropoidal forms appear in later works, as do surrealist images of birds metamorphosing into guns—reflections of the trauma of war. After the war, Meadows climbed to prominence in the art world. He exhibited at the Battersea Park Open Air Exhibition during the Festival of Britain (1951), and the next year he was chosen to exhibit at the British Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, alongside Lynn Chadwick, Kenneth Armitage, Reg Butler, and Eduardo Paolozzi. In 1957, Meadows had his first solo show at Gimpel Fils, and the year after he received his second solo show at the Paul Rosenberg Gallery in New York. In 1960, he was appointed professor of sculpture at the Royal College of Art, London. His work is held by notable public collections worldwide, including Tate Gallery, London; The Los Angeles County Museum of Art; and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C.