Top 10 Modern Sculptures In London

By M@ Last edited 106 months ago
Top 10 Modern Sculptures In London

With the Royal Academy's Modern British Sculpture exhibition receiving mixed reviews, you might consider saving your money and seeking out some of the capital's freebie art work. Here are our favourite ten pieces from the past 100 years (we're being flexible with the terms 'modern' and 'British', just like the RA).

10. Homage To Leonardo by Enzo Plazzotta (1982, Belgrave Square)
One of the lesser known pieces in this selection, but worth seeking out. Like the Newton sculpture of his near namesake Eduardo Paolozzi, Plazotta's Vitruvian Man is also lifted from a great work of two-dimensional art into sculptural form — in this case Leonardo's Da Vinci's study of the male form. It's hidden away inside leafy Belgrave Sqaure, which is normally accessible only to keyholders. However, you can get a reasonable gawp from outside the railings, and the square is normally open to the public on Open Garden Squares weekend (June). Plazotta also made that nice ballet dancer on Drury Lane, and the leaping Jetté figure near Tate Britain.

9. Single Form by Barbara Hepworth (1962, Battersea Park)
No roundup of modern art would be complete without a mention of Babs. Her piece in Battersea Park is a stonking piece of bronze over 10 feet high. It's typical bottle-opener Hepworth, and looks perfectly at home beside the lakeside topiary. The cast is a memorial to her friend Dag Hammarskjold, the UN Secretary General who died in a plane crash in 1961. Another piece by the great lady can be found in Dulwich Park, and that angel-like object pinned to the side of John Lewis is also her handiwork.

8. Rush Hour by George Segal (1983, Broadgate)
An important piece in the architectural wonderland that is Broadgate. Segal's bronze shows six melancholy figures striding away from the UBS building. Perhaps they've just received their P45s. It's a bleak grouping, but neatly symbolises the daily drudge of the woebegone financial services professional.

7. Couple on Seat by Lynn Chadwick (1984, Canary Wharf)
And what a couple. Why the rhombic and pyramidal noggins? Is it a subtle distillation of the countless meetings taking place around Cabot Square at any given time? He's thinking inside the box. She has a point. We don't know, but the work is typical of the London-born artist, whose mis-shapen bronze humanoids can be found around the world. It's also good for impromptu orgies, apparently. A few years back, another of Chadwick's sculptures was stolen from Roehampton University.

6. Two piece bronze Reclining Figure No 3 by Henry Moore (1963, Kennington)
Britain's most famous sculptor is well represented in the capital, with notable pieces in Hampstead Heath, Pimlico, Westminster and elsewhere. But we've chosen his bronze double-act in the middle of Kennington's Brandon Estate because...well, it's in the middle of Kennington's Brandon Estate. The twice-blessed housing development was also home to Rose Tyler and family in Dr Who.

5. Fulcrum by Richard Serra (1987, Broadgate)
Mutually supporting girders might not be everyone's idea of artistic harmony. There's no denying that Richard Serra's contribution to Broadgate is powererful, however, especially when you consider that these three hunks of steel aren't welded together and balance menacingly above the head of anyone bold enough to venture inside. But such is the sheer brute strength of this piece, you feel it would be the only thing left standing this side of Brian Blessed, should the world suffer a nuclear exchange.

4. Large Mirror Nijinski by Barry Flanagan (1992, The Mall)
Several works by Flanagan can be found around London. His lagomorphic obsession is best seen in that triangle of land on the north side of the Mall near Admiralty Arch, where two prancing hares surmount bronze traffic cones. All very odd, but that's our Barry. Watch out for a major exhibition of the late artist's work at Tate Britain in September.

3. Madonna and Child by Jacob Epstein (1952, Cavendish Square)
Architectural badboy Jacob Epstein caused many a ruckus with his nudey sculptures on 55 Broadway and Zimbabwe House. Less controversial was this elegant work on the entrance to the convent of the Holy Child Jesus in Cavendish Square.

2. Lioness and Lesser Kudu by Jonathan Kenworthy (1993, Grosvenor Gardens)
Unlike most of the sculptors in this list, Kenworthy tends to deal in lifelike forms rather than abstract or representative art. In particular, he's noted for his animal sculptures, of which several can be found around town. This one is easily his finest. Were it in Hyde Park or Trafalgar Square, it would surely be celebrated as one of London's finest sculptures. For those who know, however, this powerful study of African fauna, bronze in tooth and claw, is a local landmark. Sit on a bench with a venison sandwich (they probably sell them in Belgravia) and contemplate the fate of that poor kudu.

1. Newton by Eduardo Paolozzi (1995, British Library)

Paolozzi has perhaps more works of public sculpture around London than any other artist. You've probably seen his murals at Tottenham Court Road station, or his mechanical head near the Design Museum. But his most iconic piece has to be the hunched-over statue of Isaac Newton outside the British Library. The natural philosopher's stooping form is lifted from a drawing by William Blake. The mixing of artist and scientist is an appropriate symbol for the library he stands in front and on top of.

Wot no Gormley? This list is based purely on personal whimsy and acknowledges that there are many other fine works around town. Let us know your favourites in the comments below.

Last Updated 08 February 2011