Lynn Chadwick was born on November 24, 1914, in Barnes, London. His initial desire to become a sculptor was discouraged due to the economic depression of the 1930s, which persuaded him to follow a more practical vocation as an architect. Dissatisfied with the theoretical nature of the profession, he started to work as a draughtsman in London. During World War II he trained in the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy and returned to London in 1944. In March 1946 he won a prize in a textile design competition judged by Henry Moore and Graham Sutherland. He was subsequently offered a contract to design for Ascher and moved to Gloucestershire.

At this time he began to make his first mobiles using balsa wood and aluminium wire, which were intended as decorative features for exhibition stands. His mobiles were displayed for the first time at the gallery of London art dealers Charles and Peter Gimpel in August 1949; followed by a solo exhibition in June 1950. Although Chadwick always viewed his sculptures in architectural terms, Charles and Peter Gimpel regarded them as sculpture and thus reawakened his early ambitions. In a manner characteristic of British post-war sculpture, Chadwick favoured the technique of construction over that of carving. His tendency to begin works from an abstract form which he then invested with an allusive vitality was the exact opposite of more traditional approaches.

In 1952 Chadwick won an honourable mention in the International sculpture competition, Unknown Political Prisoner, promoted by Henry Moore and Herbert Read. During the same year he was invited by the British Council to contribute four sculptures and four drawings to a celebrated group show featuring eight young British sculptors (including Kenneth Armitage, Reg Butler, Henry Moore, and Edward Paolozzi) at the Venice Biennale. Four years later, at the Venice Biennale, Chadwick's established an international reputation after he was selected for the British Pavilion and awarded the Biennale Grand Prix for Sculpture. In 1958 Chadwick bought Lypiatt Park, near Stroud in Gloucestershire, England, which he restored and used as a home and studio. He died and was buried in his home on April 24, 2003.