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Head 2
© William Turnbull. All rights reserved, DACS 2015

Reference URL

Head 2 1955

Not on display

  • Scottish Art
Turnbull made this work in plaster, cutting and gouging it before casting it in bronze. It is a head – the eyes, nose and mouth are just discernable – re-interpreted for the post-war age. The resemblance to stones, dinosaur eggs and hand-grenades is probably not accidental; the head has the look of something that has been to hell and back and it has no correct way up. Turnbull was one of a group of young British sculptors, including Eduardo Paolozzi, Reg Butler and Lynn Chadwick, who showed in the ‘New Aspects of British Sculpture’ exhibition at the Venice Biennale in 1952. Commentators noted their common interest in geometry, fear and anxiety, which was rife in post-war art of this period. The term ‘geometry of fear’ was coined to describe their work.

Glossary Open


The production of a sculpture by use of a mould to make a copy, usually in a more durable material, of the original work. The term is used to describe both the process and the resulting object.

Geometry of Fear

A term coined in 1952 by the critic Herbert Read, which relates to a generation of sculptors who emerged in the wake of World War II. Read wrote: “These new images belong to the iconography of despair, or of defiance; and the more innocent the artist, the more effectively he transmits the collective guilt. Here are images of flight, or ragged claws ‘scuttling across the floors of silent seas’, of excoriated flesh, frustrated sex, the geometry of fear.”

Venice Biennale

An international art exhibition founded in 1895 and held every two years, characterised by its use of national pavilions.

Cast, Geometry of Fear, Venice Biennale


  • Acc. No. GMA 5112
  • Medium Bronze
  • Size 11.40 x 10.20 x 17.80 cm
  • Credit Purchased from the Knapping Fund 2009