Evolution of The Minotaur bronze 170 cm. (67 in.) high Conceived in 1963-4
PROVENANCE: With The Bruton Gallery, Somerset, where purchased by the family of the present owner in December 1988 Private Collection, U.K.
LITERATURE: C.P. Snow, Michael Ayrton, Drawings and Sculpture, Cory, Adams & Mackay, 1966, no.142 (ill.b&w.) Peter Cannon-Brookes, Michael Ayrton, An Illustrated Commentary, Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery, 1978, no.160, p.92 (another cast ill.b&w.)
Following a visit to Italy in 1947, Ayrton's paintings became more sculptural, until with some practical guidance from Henry Moore, he began to sculpt and cast in bronze. Working trips to Italy and Greece immersed him in the ancient classical myths, particularly that of Daedalus, Icarus and the Minotaur in its labyrinth. He continued to explore these myths in his art for the rest of his career.
Ayrton's Minotaurs become more tragic the more human they are. The anguish and plight of this half-man half-beast is tangible in the present lot. It has been described as the 'climax' of the group he made using a gorilla-like head as opposed to a bull. With arms raised and covering his eyes, the minotaur bares teeth in a painfully silent scream. The sheer presence of this lifesize work enforces the emotive response in the viewer, more than any other.