During the 1950s, Bernard Meadows focused on a series of sculptures depicting mammals, birds, and insects. His work is characterized by the fantastically primal animal emotions they convey, and the imagery of Startled Bird is no exception. Meadows was particularly drawn to the rooster, which he portrays here standing nearly upright, wings outstretched and neck fully extended. This awkward pose expresses the bird’s fear but would also appear threatening to predators. The animal’s agitation is further conveyed in the coarse execution of the sculpture. Initially, Meadows roughed out his subject in plaster over an underlying armature. After it dried, he then modeled the form with more plaster. In its second application, however, the plaster was only slightly tacky and required the use of a palette knife to move it around. Finally, Meadows formalized in bronze the highly texturized surface that resulted from this unique process.
Label from Menagerie: Animals on View, March 11–June 4, 2017