In Mother Stone Anne Middleton Wagner looks anew at the carvings of the first generation of British modernists, a group centered around Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth, and Jacob Epstein. Wagner probes the work of these sculptors, discusses their shared avant-garde materialism, and identifies a common theme that runs through their work and that of other artists of the period: maternity.
Why were artists for three turbulent decades after the First World War seemingly preoccupied with representations of pregnant women and the mother and child? Why was this the great new subject, especially for sculpture? Why was the imagery of bodily reproduction at the core of the effort to revitalize what in Britain had become a somnolent art? Wagner finds the answers to these questions at the intersection between the politics of maternity and sculptural innovation. She situates British sculpture fully within the new reality of "bio-power"-the realm of Marie Stopes, Brave New World, and Melanie Klein. And in a series of brilliant studies of key works, she offers a radical rereading of this sculpture's main concerns and formal language.
Anne Middleton Wagner is professor of modern art, University of California, Berkeley. She is the author of Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux: Sculptor of the Second Empire, published by Yale University Press, and of Three Artists (Three Women): Modernism and the Art of Hesse, Krasner, and O'Keeffe.