GUY THE GORILLA GETS ‘LISTED’
The marble sculpture of Guy the gorilla in Crystal Palace park is one of more than 40 which were ‘listed’ on Friday (22nd) by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport .
Historic England say the 1961 work by David Wynne has been ‘listed’ at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
Artistic interest: a sculpture of high artistic quality, powerfully composed and skilfully detailed in Belgian marble, and representative of the continuity of the figurative tradition in the post-war period;
Historic interest: as a piece commissioned from David Wynne by London County Council, a significant patron of C20 public art;
Group value: with Crystal Palace Park, designated at Grade II* on the Register of Parks and Gardens.
In 1956, the London County Council (LCC) launched a Patronage of the Arts scheme, setting aside an annual budget of £20,000 for commissioning and acquiring works with the advice of the Arts Council.
Over the following decade some 50 works were sited in housing estates, schools and other public places.
In 1959 the LCC commissioned David Wynne to carve a large animal sculpture for a site to be determined at a later late. Wynne was at that time preoccupied with studying the characteristic behaviour and movements of animals, spending many weeks sketching at London Zoo.
He decided that Guy, a western lowland gorilla and the star attraction at London Zoo, would make a suitable subject.
From his arrival in 1947 Guy became something of a celebrity at London Zoo, appearing on children’s television and natural history programmes. The LCC in July 1962 recommended Wynne’s piece for the children’s zoo at Crystal Palace.
The sculpture is of polished black Belgian fossil marble, standing approximately 120cm high on a marble base and roughly-tooled granite plinth. The title of the work is carved into the plinth.
The animal is depicted resting powerfully on all fours; muscular limbs extending down to flexed knuckles frame a four-square form. Wynne intended that the sculpture convey ‘all his feelings of awe and terror and love for this mighty beast’ while being sufficiently robust for children to climb on. (Source: Historic England)
Guy the gorilla is one of 41 post-war public sculptures across England designed to bring our public spaces back to life after WWII which have been newly listed.
They range from an Antony Gormley masterpiece, his first to be listed, to three Barbara Hepworth sculptures, a Henry Moore outside the Houses of Parliament and pieces depicting a range of themes from the power of electricity to the women’s peace movement in Northern Ireland.
A new exhibition at Somerset House will explore loved, lost, damaged and destroyed public art from the post-war period. (see separate story)
The full list of works ‘listed’ are as follows:
Knife Edge Two Piece by Henry Moore
Winged Figure by Barbara Hepworth
Single Form (Memorial) by Barbara Hepworth
Untitled [Listening] by Antony Gormley
Revolving Torsion by Naum Gabo
The Spirit of Electricity by Geoffrey Clarke
St Thomas a Becket by Edward Bainbridge Copnall
Ritual by Antanas Brazdys
Eagle Squadron Memorial by Elisabeth Frink
Horse and Rider by Elisabeth Frink
Lesson by Franta Belsky
Pan Statue by Jacob Epstein
London Pride by Frank Dobson
Zemran by William Pye
South of the River by Bernard Schottlander
Ventilation Shaft Cover by Eduardo Paolozzi
Following the Leader (Memorial to the Children Killed in the Blitz) by Peter Laszlo Peri
Relief of Mother and Children Playing by Peter Laszlo Peri
Relief of Boys Playing Football by Peter Laszlo Peri
The Preacher by Peter Laszlo Peri
Gorilla by David Wynne
Prisoner of War Memorial by Fred Kormis
The Leaning Woman by Karel Vogel
Witch of Agnesi by FE McWilliam
Sigmund Freud Statue by Oscar Nemon
Father Courage by F E McWilliam
Winston Churchill Statue by David McFall
Portrait of Elisabeth Frink by F E McWilliam
Help! By F E McWilliam
Donkey by Willi Soukop
Wild Boar by Elisabeth Frink
Rosewall (Curved Reclining Form) by Barbara Hepworth
2MS Series No. 1 by Bernard Schottlander
3B Series No. 1 by Bernard Schottlander
Declaration by Phillip King
A Celebration of Engineering Sciences by Allan Johnson
The Story of Wool by William Mitchell
The Miner by Arthur Fleischmann
The Symbol of Discovery by John Skelton
Statue of Artist Augustus John by Ivor Robert-Jones
Construction in Aluminium by Kenneth Martin