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Clement MEADMORE (b.1929; d.2005)

Clement Lyon Meadmore was born on February 9, 1929 in Melbourne, Australia.  His earliest artistic influence came from his mother, Mary Agnes Ludlow Meadmore, who was born in Scotland before migrating to Australia as a child. The young boy shared his mother’s interest in the watercolour works of an uncle, Jesse Jewhurst Hilder. Meadmore also followed his mother’s interest in ballet and the works of artist Edgar Degas.

Studying aeronautical engineering at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology and graduating in 1949, Meadmore initially pursued a career designing furniture. In 1953 his first sculpture of welded steel was offered for sale. In the same year, Meadmore traveled to England, France and Germany, followed by a visit to Japan in 1959. The young artist’s early works were received to critical acclaim, earning him both group and solo exhibitions in Melbourne and Sydney. In 1963 Meadmore moved to New York and went on to take out U.S. citizenship.  He made his home in New York, returning to Australia for a year to work as photo editor for Vogue magazine.

Meadmore’s sculptures are characterised by a single, rectangular volume that twists and turns back onto itself then soars into space in an uplifting expression of freedom from tension. Influences of Abstract Expressionism and Minimalism are imbued in Meadmore’s sculptures. In the artist’s massive sculptures, the impression of natural physical elegance is both emphasized and queried with a flowing expression of forceful actuality. The artist worked against the constraints of geometry, freeing his sculptures into an expression of weightlessness.

Clement Meadmore’s public commissions afford the visitor a tranquil and thoughtful escape from the busy urban environment. “A building is part of the environment, but a sculpture is a presence inhabiting the environment,” said Meadmore.

Whilst primarily recognised for his large-scale sculptures, even his small, palm-sized models were crafted to reflect innate robust quality. In a departure from the Minimalists, Meadmore eschewed the concept of working out an idea in advance. He crafted his compositions through intuition. Moving away from the rigors of Minimalism, the artist said his works "transcended geometry" as he sought to create fluid, supple sculptures that expressed ideas and feelings beyond their factual presence.

In 1971, Meadmore told Time Magazine: ''I'm not interested in metaphors of infinity or of anything else. I have to start with a real object, a thing -- and then try to let it transcend its physicality.'' 

Meadmore was drawn to the natural, rusted patina of COR-TEN steel, which became his preferred medium. In his apartment studio, the artist built small-scale maquettes. Once he could visualise a large-scale work, he had it created by a local fabrication plant. In most of his works, Meadmore explored variations of lengthened, squared metal tubes. During the 1970s, his works took on greater complexity, with a single bar now divided and moving in numerous directions, with different treatments to various sections of the steel to create a sense of lightness.

An avid amateur drummer and jazz lover, Meadmore held regular jam sessions at his home. His love of jazz is reflected in the names of several of his works, including “Riff” (1966) “Round Midnight (1996) “Stormy Weather” (1997) “Night and Day” (1979). Meadmore also wrote several books, including “How to Make Furniture Without Tools” (Pantheon, 1975).

Meadmore exhibited prolifically throughout his career, with solo and group shows across Australia, the U.S., Japan and Austria.

In 2002, Clement Meadmore was awarded his Doctor of Arts from Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Melbourne.

He died in New York City on April 19, 2005, leaving an enduring legacy as one of the most highly respected artists of his generation and for his commitment to public sculpture.

Clement Meadmore is represented throughout Australia in collections at major museums. The world art stage sees the artist’s works at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Detroit Institute of Arts, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Portland Art Museum, Butler Institute of American Art and throughout the United States and Japan. Meadmore’s large-scale sculptures grace college campuses including Princeton University, Columbia University, and the University of Michigan.


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