Films

AN IMPROBABLE ODYSSEY: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF BRIAN WALL

This documentary film provides an insider’s view of three major international art centers during three turbulent decades of the 20th century from the unique perspective of British-born American sculptor Brian Wall.

Born in London in 1931, and despite an impoverished childhood during World War II and no formal art education, Wall has achieved renown for his abstract steel sculptures.  We follow his remarkable journey from the modernist art center of St. Ives, Cornwall in the ‘50s to the Swinging London art scene of the ‘60s to his arrival in America in the ‘70s.  He joined the faculty of the University of California at Berkeley at the height of the counterculture revolution and continues to live and work in the San Francisco Bay Area today.

The story is told through insightful interviews with the artist in his studio as well as art historians, museum curators, collectors and fellow artists who describe the creative ferment of the times and Wall’s significant contributions.  In addition, hundreds of archival photographs of art works and influential artists, musicians, and writers make this film a truly educational and inspirational experience.

Produced by Brian Wall Foundation.  Directed by Peter Stern.  60 minutes. 

The An Improbable Odyssey was selected by the Palm Springs Architecture Design Art Film Festival, by the Venice, California, Fine Arts Film Festival, and by the Berlin International Art Film Festival for screening in 2022.

    






BRIAN WALL INTERVIEW WITH DR. CHRIS STEPHENS

This online interview was presented by the Henry Moore Institute in Leeds, England, following a screening of the film An Improbable Odyssey:  The Life and Times of Brian Wall on December 8, 2021.  Their conversation is informed by Dr. Stephens’s longstanding relationship with the artist as author of the monograph Brian Wall, (Momentum, 2006) and his insightful participation in the documentary.  Introduced by Dr. Clare O’Dowd, Research Curator, Henry Moore Institute.

Director of the Holburne Museum, Bath, England, since 2017, Dr. Stephens was a curator at Tate for more than 20 years, serving as Head of Modern British Art and Head of Displays at Tate Britain.  Exhibitions in London and Tate St Ives included Barbara Hepworth: Centenary (2003), Henry Moore (2010), Picasso and Modern British Art (2012), Barbara Hepworth: Sculpture for a Modern World (2015). His book St Ives: The Art and the Artists was published by Pavilion in 2018.

Duration 52 minutes.

Photographs

Portraits of Brian Wall

St. Ives, Cornwall, 1960

London, 1965
Photo by Adrian Flowers

Thornaby, England, 1968
Photo by Sylvia Brown

Emeryville, California, 2015
Photo by Nicole Katano

Sculptures by Brian Wall

Red Black on White, 1955
Painted wood relief
21” x 23 1/2” x 3” h

Standing Form I, 1958
Steel
4” x 17” x 23” h

Brown Bomber, 1965
Oil-based enamel on steel
216” x 60” x 36” h
Photo by M. Lee Fatherree

Blue Diamond, 1968
Oil-based enamel on steel
156” x 181” x 60” h
Photo by M. Lee Fatherree

Window, 1971
Collection: Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive
Painted steel
240” x 162” x 98” h

Early Yellow, 1975
Private collection
Painted steel
17” x 48” x 65” h

Ali, 1978
Collection: University of Houston, Texas
Painted steel
144” x 144” x 180” h

Dancer Dancer, 1983
Painted steel
132” x 173” x 173” h
Photo by Ben Blackwell

Red End, 1991
Painted steel
36” x 33” x 24” h
Photo by M. Lee Fatherree

Hokusai, 1993
Painted steel
71” x 72” x 14” h
Photo by M. Lee Fatherree

Long Ball, 2010
Stainless steel
115” x 84” x 68” h
Photo by Brian Wall

Elegy, 2012
Collection: de Saisset Museum, Santa Clara University
Stainless steel
122” x 84” x 63” h
Photo by Tena Scalph

Pike, 2014
Stainless steel
72” x 84” x 123” h
Photo by Brian Wall

White Edge, 2018
Stainless steel
90” x 138” x 82” h
Photo by Douglas Brown

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