Robert Adams 1917-1984

Robert Adams was an English sculptor and painter, associated with the 'Geometry of Fear' group.

During the Second World War, Adams worked for the Civil Defence and took evening classes in sculpture at the Northampton School of Art, where he was born and had studied since the early 30s. After the War, he spent two years teaching himself to sculpt in wood and, though he also produced abstract paintings, Adams soon began to concentrate his efforts on sculpting. The forms he produced were abstracted yet inspired by natural objects and were created from simple materials such as wood, plaster and stone.

Towards the end of the 1940s, Adams began to work with metal. He learned how to weld while teaching at the Central School of Art and Design, London, and began to produce constructions from sheet and rod elements in 1955. The welded steel artworks became the focus of his work in the '60s, after critical praise on the pieces he exhibited at the 26th Venice Biennale.

Adams met Victor Pasmore in the late 40s and was quickly brought into his close circle of artist-friends, including Adrian Heath, Anthony Hill, Kenneth Martin and Mary Martin. Adams exhibited alongside this group from 1951 to 1956, at the Redfern Gallery, Gimpel Fils (where his first solo show was held in 1947) and other spaces London, during which time they acted as the main forum for Constructivist ideas in Britain. The group specifically aimed to build a closer relationship between art and architecture and a reflection of Adams' sympathy for the cause can be seen in his vast mural reliefs of the 50s, such as those covering the reinforced concrete facades of the Municipal Theatre at Gelsenkirchen, Germany (1959).


Adams found international reknown and exhibited with Galerie Jeanne Bucher, Paris, in 1949 and the Passedoit Gallery, New York, in 1950. He was also awarded with the Rockerfeller Award in 1950 along with commissions by the Arts Council for the Festival Year, artworks which were later loaned to the Tate. Adams also won a prize for his lithography at the Sao Paulo Biennale, Brazil, in 1951. In the 50s he also taught at the Central School of Arts and Crafts.

From the 1970s until his death in 1984, Adams moved his focus on to bronze casting. His large-scale public works from this period include the large steel sculpture for Kingswell, Hampstead (1973), designed as a simple, Minimalist monolith.


Adams' work is in many public and corporate collections including Deutsche Bank.