Karin Jonzen (1914-1998) Karin Jonzen was born in London of Swedish parents. She studied for four years at the Slade School of Art (1933-37), and a further year at the City and Guilds School at Kennington (1938). Though she spent most of her time at the City and Guilds carving stone, she would later work predominantly in bronze and terracotta. In 1938, she went to Sweden to study at the Royal Academy, Stockholm. There she was told she had ‘produced a style when far too young’.
However, it was that very style which distinguished her work and led to her fame. Karin Jonzen aimed to give the spectator something to look at, something with which he or she could become engaged. She believed that it was the familiarity of her subject, whether it be a nude woman or a child, which allowed this engagement. An adjective she often used when talking about her work was ‘natural’.
Figurative sculpture became less popular after the end of the Second World War yet Karin Jonzen was never drawn towards abstraction:
It seemed to me that to turn away from the figure altogether, as my contemporaries were beginning to do was unthoughtful. I resolved therefore to persevere with the figure, neither to imitate or distort, but to obey as far as my instinct allowed those mysterious aesthetic laws which govern light and shade in sculpture and to try and make the figure appear to look natural and the features expressive of an inner life; with this aim I have striven ever since. (Karin Jonzen, Karin Jonzen, Sculptor, Cambridge, Silent Books, 1994, page 19)
Throughout her career she remained highly influenced by ancient Greek art of ‘that epoch between 540-480 [BC]…when not only instinct for form but observation and reason seemed to go hand in hand’ (Karin Jonzen, London: Bachman & Turner, 1976, page 7).
Jonzen’s many exhibitions included solo shows at the Fieldborne Gallery (1974) and the David Messum Gallery (1996). Awards included the Prix de Rome (1939) and the Feodora Gleichen Award (1948).