Oliver O'Connor Barrett

Nationality: British

Dates: b. 1908-d. 1987

Oliver O’Connor Barrett (known as Connor Barrett) was born in Eltham but his family moved to Colchester in his youth, his younger brother Roderic Barrett (1920-2000) also became a well known artist. Connor studied at Fircroft College but was largely sell-taught in sculpting. In the 1930s he was carving and exhibiting figurative works in wood and bronze at the Royal Academy, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery and elsewhere. In 1940 he moved to the United States where he taught drawing and sculpture in various institutions including the Cooper Union Art School and the Museum of Modern Art, New York City. He also exhibited widely in the States including the New Orleans Art Center, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, and at Audubon Artists. In 1962 he received his most important commission, to create the Sculpture Continuum Playground for the 1964 New York World’s Fair: comprising 13 abstract animal and human forms, the sculptures doubled as climbing frames and food for children’s imaginations, the art historian Herbert Read said of it ‘You have given a new spacial development to the Art of sculpture’.

Connor Barrett retired to the U.K. his work remains best known in America. Very few examples have so far emerged at auction, an early figural carving which sold at Reeman Dansie in 2016 is believed to be his record price at auction.