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Thames and Hudson and The Hepworth Wakefield produce the first major biography of modernist sculptor Ronald Moody

14 Jun 2024

To coincide with the first major Ronald Moody exhibition at The Hepworth Wakefield, Thames and Hudson have published the first illustrated biography of Ronald Moody in association with the gallery.

Moody (1900–1984) was a leading modernist sculptor and yet, until now, there has been no comprehensive overview of his work. The book explores the development of his life and work, reestablishing Ronald Moody’s place within the story of 20th-century art.

Contributions by those who knew him – Paul Dash, David A. Bailey, Cynthia Moody, Errol Lloyd and Val Wilmer – punctuate Ego Ahaiwe Sowinski’s biographical account. Their personal reflections and photographs, and transcripts of Moody’s BBC radio broadcasts, offer insights into his cultural influences and studio life, with his brother Harold, a campaigner for racial equality, and the Caribbean Artist Movement, at the core.

Born in Jamaica, Moody arrived in Britain in 1923 and initially trained as a dentist but switched paths to become an artist after a revelatory visit to the British Museum in 1928, later establishing studios in London and Paris. In 1939, six of his works were shown alongside African American artists in a large survey exhibition at the Baltimore Museum of Art. By 1941 he had produced some forty known sculptures in bronze and wood and was regularly exhibiting internationally. On the lead up to the Second World War his creative and cultural life was flourishing.

Immersed in the art world, he formed friendships with journalists, actors and artists including Marie Seton, Wifredo Lam and Man Ray, until forced to flee the Nazi occupation in Paris in 1940. Back in London, he continued to work and exhibit for over half a century, accepting the prestigious Gold Musgrave Medal from the Institute of Jamaica for his eminence as an international sculptor in 1977. Receiving little recognition in Britain during his lifetime, cultural institutions are now rightfully acquiring and celebrating Ronald Moody’s work.

On Saturday 22 June, Ego Ahaiwe Sowinski, artist Kedisha Coakley and Eleanor Clayton, Head of Collection and Exhibitions at The Hepworth Wakefield, will discuss Moody’s unconventional pathway to becoming a sculptor, his influential career and legacy. The talk will be followed by a book signing. Tickets can be booked online.

Ronald Moody: Sculpting Life is available to purchase from The Hepworth Wakefield shop here. Become a Member and get 10% off.

Ronald Moody: Sculpting Life

Ronald Moody: Sculpting Life, Saturday 20 June – Sunday 3 November 2024, will explore the development of Moody’s art as well as his contribution and impact on British and international art history.

The exhibition will bring together over 50 Moody works from large-scale figurative sculptures made in wood in the 1930s through to post-war experimentation with concrete and resin casting. These works will be set within the context of his contemporaries Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore, artists he exhibited alongside such as Eileen Agar and his friend Jacob Epstein, as well as the group known as the Caribbean Artists Movement of which Moody was a founding member.

Read more about the exhibition here.

Ronald Moody working on Johanaan, 1963. © Val Wilmer. Photo: Val Wilmer.