Curatorial Art Practice in London
Why do I need this figure? Are there, possibly, interesting images without figures? It was not until I realised that I was that figure, that I had been projecting myself into space, that the possibility opened up that the work could have an existence separate from myself.
(Norman Dilworth, In the nature of things, 2001)
After studying at the Wigan School of Art (1949-1952), Norman Dilworth (born 1931) gained a place at the Slade School of Art, where he studied until 1956. In 1955 he won the Tonks Prize and the following year he was awarded the Sunday Times Drawing Prize. After being awarded a scholarship by the French Government in 1956, Dilworth went to study in Paris where he became interested in and influenced by the works of Cézanne, Giacometti, and Feininger.
Since the 1950s Dilworth has emerged as a key figure in contemporary art, exhibiting in the Young Contemporaries Exhibitions (1953, 1954, 1955) and the John Moores Exhibition (Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool,1959). In 1972, he allowed his first retrospective publication on his work to begin with a series of sculptures from that year, called Structure Series. Structuralism was the predominant philosophical model during the 60s and 70s, and Dilworth’s Structure Series visualised in a minimal and fundamental way what can be called the structural links between a series and individual works.
In 1980 Dilworth co-curated (with Gerhard von Graevenitz) the landmark exhibition PIER+OCEAN (Construction in the Art of the Seventies), which explored the relationship between Constructivist Art and the international avant-garde of Land Art, Minimal and Conceptual Art and Arte Povera. This exhibition offered an important overview of the developments in the 70s, and worked also as a statement in its own right. Organised by the artists, it eventually became a kind of artwork itself, and because of this PIER+OCEAN has a great significance within the 20th century of art history.
In 1981 Dilworth moved to Amsterdam and began to extensively exhibit in Europe; this include the solo retrospectives at the Mondraanhuis (Amersfoort) in 2001 and at the Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam) in 2002.
Since then he has established a successful career in continental Europe, which led to a large retrospective at the Musée Matisse (Le Cateau-Cambresis) in 2007. Working from the platform of an appreciative audience and a wide collector base has made Dilworth’s work internationally recognised and substantial in both feel and scale; this is quite distinct from other British artists in the constructivist and systems movements. Some of his recent exhibitions include his solo shows at Laurent Delaye Gallery (London, 2010); the group exhibitions Concrete Parallels – Concretos Paralelos (São Paulo, Brazil, 2012) and Mathematical – Form – Systems (De Markten Gallery, Brussels, 2012). His works are part of highly prestigious public collections, such as those at the Tate Gallery, the Arts Council of Great Britain, the Arts Council of Wales, the British Council and Camden Council.
Dilworth lives and works in France.