Willi Soukop (1907-1995)
Willi Soukop, RA (5 January 1907 - 8 February 1995) was a sculptor, member of the Royal Academy and early teacher of Elisabeth Frink.
Wilhelm Joseph Soukop was the son of a Moravian shoemaker whose horrific experiences in the First World War led to a mental breakdown and his disappearance immediately following the war’s end.
From an early age Soukop had to work in a factory, attending evening classes at the arts and crafts school in Vienna before managing to get into the Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna (1928–1934).
In 1934 he met an English woman who invited him to England. He moved to a studio at Dartington Hall, Devon, and, 1935–45, taught part-time at Dartington Art School and at Blundell's School (apart from nine months in 1940 when, because of his Austrian citizenship, he was interned in Canada). Soukop married and moved to London in 1945, teaching at Bromley College of Art (1945-6), Guildford College of Art (1945-7) and Chelsea Art College (1947–72) schools of art.
Soukop was a member of the Faculty of Sculpture at the British School in Rome, 1952–75, and was Master of Sculpture at the Royal Academy schools, 1969-82. He exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1935 onwards; his Owl, shown in 1963, was bought by the Tate Gallery under the terms of the Chantrey Bequest. His work was included in the 1949 and 1950 open-air sculpture exhibitions at Battersea Park, and he had a solo exhibition at the Yehudi Menuhin School, Cobham, 1979, and a major retrospective at the Belgrave Gallery, 1991.
Soukop was elected to the Royal Society of British Artists in 1950, made a Fellow of the Royal Society of British Sculptors in 1956, Associate of the Royal Academy in 1963 and elected a member of the Royal Academy in 1969.