Gaudier-Brzeska, Henri (1891–1915) By Brockington, Grace
Born in St Jean-de-Braye, France, Henri Gaudier-Brzeska had a catalytic effect on the development of modernist sculpture in Britain. In 1911 he moved to London, where he produced his most significant works. At the outbreak of the First World War he enlisted in the French army and was killed in action on 5 June 1915 at the age of 23. His career was brief but prolific, and has become emblematic of the growth of Modernism in Britain shortly before the War. As an artist he was self-taught, taking his inspiration from a number of sources including museum collections in Paris and London, Rodin and other European Modernists and non-European artefacts. Among avant-garde groups, he associated most closely with the Vorticists, signing their manifesto in 1914 and contributing articles to their magazine, Blast (1914 and 1915). He also worked across the factions of the London art world and his practice was eclectic; he used whatever materials came to hand, combining the virile negrophilia of Red Stone Dancer with the naturalistic figuration of Maternity (both 1913).