Untitled, sculpture by Lenton Parr
After service in the Second World War in the Royal Australian Air Force, Lenton Parr studied art at the Royal Melbourne Technical College (later RMIT University) and from 1955 to 1957 was in Britain working as an assistant in the studio of the great modernist sculptor Henry Moore. After his return to Australia, Parr joined forces with other progressive Melbourne-based sculptors to form the Centre Five group that, from the 1960s onwards, promoted modernist ideals in sculpture and advocated for more architectural and public commissions to be awarded to local sculptors.
For Parr, the important early influence of the welded steel sculpture of the Spaniard Julio Gonzales and of British modernists such as Reg Butler, Lyn Chadwick and Eduardo Paolozzi was complemented by an enduring admiration for the sleek and spare industrial aesthetic of agricultural machinery. In later years, Parr’s visual language was based almost entirely on a compositional mode that could shape simple plates, strips and rods into sculptures no less animated than his earlier organic abstractions.