1929 - 2005
I am interested in geometry as a grammar which, if understood, can be used with great flexibility and expressiveness. Clement Meadmore
Clement Meadmore is often described as one of Australia’s greatest modernist sculptors, however he is also recognised as one of our greatest artistic exports.
Born in Melbourne in 1929, Meadmore originally studied aeronautical engineering at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) in Australia. Although he never worked in the field, the skills he learned here equipped him handsomely with the understandings and practical skills needed for a short but successful career designing bespoke furniture (1949 - late 1950s) and later his sculpture practice.
Throughout the 1950s Meadmore travelled abroad intermittently; 1953 England, France and Germany, 1959 Japan. His attention was steadily diverting from industrial design to sculpture by this stage. In 1960, Meadmore moved to Sydney where he produced sculpture, exhibited frequently, taught at the National Art School (NAS) and worked as a photo editor for the first few issues of Vogue Magazine Australia.
Becoming increasingly frustrated with the lack of response to his work in Australia, Meadmore made what would become a permanent move to New York City in 1963. Over the next couple of years Meadmore’s work evolved significantly; the panel like constructions gave way to variations of geometric volumes based on the rectangular prisms and the once rough, manufactured textures like those of Maquette (untitled) (displayed below and included in this exhibition) graduated into smooth uniformed planes. He had found a way to translate ordinary geometric forms into structures which oozed movement, suppleness and beauty.
From this point onwards Meadmore’s career was dedicated to exploring the variations and limitations of this newly acquired sculptural ‘language’. In the mid 1970s he pushed the boundaries of this language again by introducing multidirectional independent segments into his compositions. Throughout his career, he also became a specialist in scale, working from intricate hand sized works right up to mammoth public sculpture commissions that command attention and hold their surroundings hostage.
A lover of jazz, Meadmore was known as a proficient drummer who held energetic ‘jam sessions’ with his friends in his spare time. As a result his sculptures often bore names associated with jazz.
After a long and successful career abroad, Clement Meadmore died in New York City on April 19, 2005. He contributed a legacy of sculpture which was collected and installed across the US, Japan, Mexico and Australia.
Meadmore’s remaining works are represented by galleries in America, Europe and Japan and in Australia by Robin Gibson Gallery, Sydney and Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne.
Using cardboard or paper, see if you can construct a sculpture similar to Meadmore’s geometric rectangular prism forms.
Visit this web page and view the images of one of Meadmore’s large public sculptures getting fabricated and pieced together. Discuss this process. forms.
Meadmore and many other sculptors often use a product called COR TEN steel as a material for large public sculptures. Research its properties and other uses.
Clement Meadmore A matter of looking documentary clip
Using cardboard or paper, see if you can construct a sculpture similar to Meadmore’s geometric rectangular prisms forms using other prism forms.
Discuss this quote: A building is part of the environment, but a sculpture is a presence inhabiting the environment. Clement Meadmore
Meadmore cleverly overcame the less engaging aspects of geometry to create forms that were complex in their simplicity. Discuss this idea and how he achieved it.
Watch this video on Clement Meadmore’s collection of industrial designs.
IMAGES: Portrait: Clement Meadmore Frontyard Films. Clement Meadmore Maquette (untitled) c.1960 welded steel. 10 x 16 x 12 cm. Gwen Frolich Bequest. Photo: Clare Lewis