In this 1949 bronze construction by the British artist William Turnbull, the thin stick forms terminating in elementary bobs and rising from a flat plan recall the contemporary plaster or cast metal tableaux sculptures of attenuated standing and striding men walking across an open space by Alberto Giacometti. The young Turnbull had met this well-known Swiss-born Surrealist sculptor and painter in Paris a year or two earlier.
Turnbull was an avid billiards and pinball player at the time, and this work, which he intriguingly named Game, is among the earliest of his explorations of the sensation of movement that was a dominant theme in his sculptures, paintings, and related drawings of the 1950s. In addition to static pieces with titles like Mobile Stable, he incorporated actual movement in several hanging pieces. In the table-top sculpture Game, the stunted bronze rods can be plucked from their sockets in the base and placed in alternative arrangements in any variety of permutations. Here, Turnbull invited the spectator to become a participant, so that the work is (in the artist’s words) “not so much appreciated as experienced.”