Henri Gaudier-Brzeska French, 1891-1915


Henri Gaudier-Brzeska (4 October 1891 – 5 June 1915) was a French artist and sculptor who developed a rough-hewn, primitive style of direct carving.



1891 Born Henri Gaudier at Saint Jean-de-Braye, France. His father was a wood carver and carpenter by trade.
1907 Awarded a two-year state scholarship to study commerce and languages at Merchant Venturers Technical College, Bristol continuing his studies in Cardiff in 1908.
1909 Business Studies Scholarship - Nuremburg, Germany.
Whilst working he studied art informally at Paris museums and libraries.
1910 Gaudier was a self-taught sculptor by this date. He met and formed a close relationship with Polish writer Sophie Breska - they took each other’s surnames to become ‘Gaudier-Breska’.
1911 Moved with Sophie to London where they lived together until their early deaths (Henri Gaudier-Breska was killed in action WW1 in 1915, Sophie died ten years later). Worked at a timber importer's as a foreign language clerk, studied art in his spare time.
1912 Now establishing himself as a sculptor in clay (and later stone) Gaudier’s drawings were published in ‘Rhythm’ (the art magazine) and he then met sculptor Jacob Epstein and poet Ezra Pound who were to influence his sculpture and his drawing. His work was seen as revolutionary in its modern approach as his direct carving rejected classical sculpture and combined Cubist and abstracted organic forms. Gaudier studied and responded to the tribal art that he saw in the British Museum and at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. Gaudier’s friends during his four years in London included Alfred Wolmark, Horace Brodsky and Percy Wyndham-Lewis, a Vorticist artist, and he was also associated with Roger Fry.
1913 Fry opened the Omega workshop which Gaudier joined - he contributed work until 1914. Exhibited at the Allied Artists Association ‘London Salon’ Royal Albert Hall, London (and in June 1914). Carved ‘Red Stone Dancer’ and in 1914 Torso, marble - both now in the Tate Gallery, London. Work exhibited with The International Society of Sculptors (and in 1916). Exhibits at the Grosvenor Gallery, London and in Bristol Academy Spring 68th Annual exhibition, (RWA) Bristol.
1914 Work shown with Bloomsbury artists at the Grafton Group’s Alpine Club Gallery, London. Together with Wyndham-Lewis, Epstein, Bomberg and others he signed the Vorticist movement’s manifesto. Gaudier contributed to ‘Blast’ magazine, as a writer, in two issues. Founder member of the London Group with whom he exhibits at the Goupil Gallery in February (and in June in 1915). Whitechapel Gallery, London ‘Twentieth Century Art’ - group exhibition. In August WW1 had begun and Gaudier-Breska returned to France to join the French Army - he finally manages to enlist in September.
1915 Work included in the Allied Artist’s Association Exhibition and also, in June, in the Vorticist exhibition at the Dore Gallery, London. Gaudier-Breska died on 5 June at Neuville-St-Vaast, near Arras, France.
1918 Leicester Galleries, London - ‘A Memorial Exhibition of the Work of Henri Gaudier-Brzeska’.
1928 London Group: posthumous Retrospective exhibition. Although Gaudier-Brzeska left behind a comparatively small body of sculpture and drawings, and had limited exhibitions and success in his lifetime, his work has had a huge influence on the generations of 20th century sculptors that have followed him. He is represented in the collections of, amongst others, Kettles Yard Gallery, University of Cambridge; Tate Gallery, London; Musee National d' Art Moderne, Paris; Musee des Beaux Arts, Orleans; and MOMA, New York, USA.