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Relief Construction (Bird and Beast)
© Estate of Ceri Richards. All rights reserved, DACS 2015

Reference URL

Relief Construction (Bird and Beast) 1936

On Display Modern Two

Richards began making relief constructions in 1934. This is an early example of one of those pieces. During the 1930s Richards's work was influenced by Surrealism; the abstract nature of this work shows the influence of both Surrealism and Cubism. Some critics have commented on the erotic subtext of the piece, interpreting the aggressively jagged 'beast' as female and the wide-eyed bird as male. Even without reading sexual references into the relief, the construction is both comic and sinister.

Glossary Open


A style of painting originated by Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso in the first two decades of the 20th century. Instead of painting a figure or object from a fixed position they represented it from multiple viewpoints.


The state of sexual arousal or the ability to arouse sexual feelings.


A form of sculpture where the image or design projects from a flat surface types of which include, bas-relief or low relief.


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.

Cubism , Eroticism, Relief, Surrealism


  • Acc. No. GMA 1517
  • Medium Wood construction, raffia, plaster and oil
  • Size board 60.30 x 78.10 cm; Relief 42.80 x 60.30 cm;
  • Credit Purchased 1975