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Who was Austin Wright?

Austin Wright was a successful artist who purposefully rejected the London-centric art world. In this video, Dr Maddie Boden introduces Wright.
Austin Wright was not born and raised in Yorkshire like many of the other sculptors we’ve been looking at, but instead decided to make his career in York just before the Second World War in 1937. Unlike Hepworth, Wright was a largely self-taught artist which was unusual for a sculptor, but his early work showed immediate promise. Echoes of Moore and Hepworth can be seen in Wrights early sculpture, but gradually tall, attenuated, skeletal forms became characteristic of his work and began to set him apart from his contemporaries. He exhibited widely across the North of England, where in 1953 his work first appeared alongside Eduardo Paolozzi, Kenneth Armitage and Elisabeth Frink.
The art critic Charles Sewter thought Wright was the most gifted sculptor working in Britain at the time.
Wright worked in a wide variety of media: from wood to stone to lead and concrete as his pieces grew larger and he began to be given outdoor commissions. It also moved from being semi-figurative to semi-abstract. From 1961 to 1964, Wright was Gregory Fellow in Sculpture at the University of Leeds. At that point, he began to work predominantly in aluminium and took a renewed interest in plant forms, which we’ll discuss in more detail when we look at his work, Dryad. Wright produced pieces for moorland sites in Yorkshire, for schools and offices, for and historical buildings such as Bretton Hall, though many of these were stolen for scrap metal.
Therefore, the three Wright sculptures on the University campus represent a uniquely concentrated collection of the sculptor’s work. Let’s find out more in the next section.

Austin Wright was a successful artist who purposefully rejected the London-centric art world, where most galleries and exhibition opportunities were for artists at the time. Instead, he worked closely with key Northern institutions including the University of York, who collected his work extensively.

In this video, we introduce you to Wright’s life and work.

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Modern Sculpture: An Introduction to Art History

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