Artist Phyllida Barlow, a principle voice in British sculptor during the late 20th and early 21st Century, has passed away at the age of 78. The artist’s work, known for its massive scale and intricate incorporations of color, form and material, was a central figure in the country’s contemporary discourse, and represented Great Britain at the Venice Biennale in 2017.
Barlow had long worked as a teacher in the arts, including a long stint at the Slade School of Fine Art, teaching a number of luminary British artists, and made work in the interim, but she only found international recognition as a sculptor late in life. Having retired in 2009, she was tapped by Hans Ulrich Obrist the following year for a show at the Serpentine, and went on to a number of high profile exhibitions in the years to follow, including her acclaimed program in Venice.
Barlow was a relentless advocate for the arts over both portions of her career, pushing an approach that mixed a studied sense of space and scale with an utmost pragmatism that ultimately defined her works. “Why try to compete with the super-artists?” she’s quoted as saying in The Guardian. “Why go to the macho means of production when twiddling your thumbs and putting things together from your immediate environment was all you could afford to do?”
The artist is survived by her husband, artist Fabian Peake, their children, artists Florence and Eddie; Clover, Tabitha, Lewis, grandchildren, and her siblings Camilla Whitworth-Jones and Jeremy Barlow.