Sculpture by Nicola Hicks

Thursday, November 14, 2013
Sunday, March 9, 2014

At times realistic, at other times fable-like, the work of the British sculptor Nicola Hicks captures something of the physical and psychological power of living beings. The striking, often life-sized creatures that Hicks creates are vividly animated. Usually executed in straw and plaster, her works appear tactile and spontaneous, retaining a sense of the working process in the studio even when painstakingly cast into bronze.

This exhibition featured seven recent sculptures by Hicks and a selection of eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century paintings from the collection of the Yale Center for British Art. These paintings were selected by Hicks based not on art-historical criteria, but on a personal, subjective response to the works. The selection underscored her interest in art that captures expression and emotion, and that demonstrates human empathy for the life-force of different creatures. The Center is home to one of the world’s most important collections of British animal paintings and portraiture, and Hicks’s intervention offered a unique opportunity to reflect upon the contemporary resonances of these traditions.

Born in 1960, Hicks studied at the Chelsea School of Art (now Chelsea College of Art and Design) before completing her master’s degree at the Royal College of Art in 1985. From the outset she worked in a figurative mode, tenaciously building her career as a sculptor of animals at a time when abstract and conceptual trends dominated British art. She has since become celebrated for her compelling, life-like creatures, which have been collected widely and exhibited at leading museums and galleries in Britain and around the world. In 1994, she was appointed a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) for her contribution to the visual arts. The works displayed in this exhibition, including two from her recent Aesop’s Fables series, were all made in the past decade, and exemplified her long-standing interest in capturing the emotional essence of living beings.

Nicola Hicks, Black (detail), 2008, bronze, Louis-Dreyfus Family Collection, © Nicola Hicks, photo courtesy Flowers Gallery

Sculpture by Nicola Hicks
was organized by the Yale Center for British Art and selected by Nicola Hicks in conjunction with Martina Droth, Associate Director of Research and Education, and Curator of Sculpture, with the assistance of Lars Kokkonen, Postdoctoral Research Associate.

A concurrent exhibition of Nicola Hicks’s work was on view at Flowers Gallery, 529 West 20th Street, New York, NY, from November 16, 2013, through January 18, 2014.

Featured Podcasts
Nicola Hicks discusses her art and the Center’s exhibition of her sculptures in a podcast with Lars Kokkonen (see Interview with the Artist: Nicola Hicks). Also, young visitors will enjoy For Kids: Interview with the Artist Nicola Hicks, where Eva Heitmann, age 9, talks to Hicks about being an artist. A related activity guide for children was available at the Center at the time of the exhibition. 

Listen to these podcasts and others on the Center’s SoundCloud and iTunes channels.