Sculptor, ceramicist, painter, collagist, printmaker and film-maker. Abrahams studied at St Martin’s School of Art, 1952–53, under Anthony Caro, and was apprenticed to the Fiorini Art Bronze Foundry, while studying at Camberwell School of Arts of Crafts, 1954–57, under Karl Vogel and Martin Bloch. After working as a display artist for Adel Rootstein in the late ‘50s, Abrahams taught sculpture as a visiting lecturer, 1960–70, at Birmingham, Coventry, Hull and Goldsmiths’ schools of art. He was selected, on Eduardo Paolozzi’s recommendation, for the seminal 1961 show ‘26 Young Sculptors’ at the ICA. Abrahams had his first solo exhibition at Gallery One, London, 1962, his first overseas exhibition at the Richard Feigen Gallery, New York, 1970, and established an international reputation with his exhibition at the Kölnischer Kunstverein, 1973. He had retrospectives at the Bernard Jacobson Gallery, 1955, and the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, 1984. In 2008, the Henry Moore Institute staged the critically acclaimed exhibition of his early work, ‘By Leafy Ways’. He was elected ARA 1989, RA 1991 and Senior RA 2010; and was RA Professor of Sculpture 2007–10. Abrahams worked in a wide variety of materials, ranging from flock fibre to latex to bronze. His subjects, always figurative, include the human figure, giant owls, domestic gardens, and, from the 1990s, the ‘post-Cubist architectural structures’, exemplified by Head of the Stairs. His work features in public collections including the Tate; V&A; Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris; and Metropolitan Museum, New York.
Bibliography: D. Buckman, Artists in Britain since 1945 (2 vols: A–L, M–Z), Bristol, 2006; T. Cavanagh, Public Sculpture of Kensington and Chelsea with Westminster South-West, Watford, 2023, pp. 197–98; A. Lambirth, Eden and Other Suburbs. The Life and Works of Ivor Abrahams, Bristol, 2012; J. McEwen, ‘Ivor Abrahams: Maverick artist …’, 1 February 2015, The Independent online; Royal Academy of Arts website; ‘Ivor Abrahams, artist – obituary’, 19 January 2015, The Telegraph.
Terry Cavanagh November 2022
Ivor Abrahams in his Studio (photo: © A.K.Purkiss)