Frederick Edward McWilliam

(1909 - 1992)
Frederick Edward McWilliam Kneeling Woman 1947 © Estate of F.E. McWilliam


Born in Banbridge, Northern Ireland, McWilliam studied painting at the Slade School of Fine Art in London from 1928 to 1931 and then worked in Paris for a year. He began making sculptures after a visit to Brancusi's studio in 1933. McWilliam joined the English surrealist group in 1938. By that time he was producing sculptures in which he fragmented and distorted the human form to produce objects which could be both sinister and darkly humorous in appearance. After the Second World War McWilliam's work became more rugged, and often naturalistic, in style.

Glossary terms

  • A literary and artistic movement founded by the poet André Breton in 1924. Many of the associated artists, such as Max Ernst and Jean Arp, had previously been involved with Dadaism. The movement sought to challenge conventions through the exploration of the subconscious mind, invoking the power of dreams and elements of chance. Cultural hierarchies were challenged by the combination of diverse elements in collages and sculptural assemblages. The movement is also notable for the collaborations between artists and writers evident in the Surrealists' many publications.