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Leon Underwood ( 25 Dec. 1890, Shepherds Bush, London- 9 Oct. 1975)
"The precursor of modern sculpture in Britain" was a noted British sculptor, painter, draughtsman and engraver as well as a writer and illustrator, scholar, teacher, philosopher and stained glass and furniture craftsman. He attended the Slade School of Art and founded the magazine The Island in 1931. His work was influenced by African and Cycladic designs.
In World War I, Underwood worked with Solomon Joseph Solomon as a camoufleur, creating observation posts camouflaged as trees. He sketched and painted examples of his wartime work, as in his oil painting Erecting a Camouflage Tree (1919). In 1920 he received the British Prix de Rome but chose not to go to Italy, instead opening his own drawing school, then traveling elsewhere through most of the decade.
Underwood is best known for his sculptures cast in bronze, carvings in marble, stone and wood and his drawings. His lifetime´s work however includes a wide range of mediums and activities, and an expressive and technical mastery in what was at the time a groundbreaking approach. His paintings included portraits and Mexican landscapes resulting from his youthful travels there. He was a friend of Ralph Chubb with whom he sometimes collaborated and exhibited.
He wrote a number of books on ancient African sculpture, including a study of the Ife and Benin heads, Bronzes of West Africa which show his pioneering appreciation of their artistic significance and his understanding of their relationship to the culture and technology from which they originated. His access to the cave paintings of Altamira in Spain ignited his "New Philosophy" with regard to this interelationship of the expressiveness and technology of primitive art.
Among his students was Henry Moore, who later spoke of his indebtedness to Underwood's teaching. Underwood however ...
...added a quotation of the artist: "The ravens fed me".