Kenneth Armitage (1916-2002)
Kenneth Armitage was born in Leeds, in 1916. In 1934, he was awarded the Gregory Fellowship, a scholarship to Leeds College of Art where Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth and Lyn Chadwick had preceded him. However, it was during his period at the Slade school of Art in London that he was to flourish as a sculptor.

Between 1939-1945 Armitage served in the army. At the end of the war he became a sculpture teacher at Bath Academy of Art in Corsham where he stayed for ten years. It was during this period that he developed his mature style which was mainly concerned with figurative pieces consisting of flat surfaces which were to be perceived frontally. This approach to the sculptural treatment of the human form can be read as a reaction against the three dimensional monumentality of Henry Moore, a reaction characteristic of the work produced by British sculptors during the post-war period. Armitage consequently became interested in investigating the effects of weightlessness and suspension in his work.

Armitages' first one man show was held at the Gimpel Fields Gallery in London in 1952. The significance of his contribution to British sculpture was confirmed in 1958 at the 29th Venice Biennale where he was awarded the prize for the best British Sculptor under 45. His international success was confirmed in 1956 when he was awarded first prize in a competition for a war memorial for the town of Kretfield in Germany.

He traveled extensively throughout the 1960's. Between 1960-1963 he was involved in a project for the central facade of the Chateau Mouton Rothschild near Bordeaux. In 1964, he was a visiting professor at the Universtity of Caracas, Venezuela and in 1970 at Boston University, Massachusetts. From 1974-79 he was a visiting tutor at the Royal College of Art, London.

A major retrospective of his work was held at the Art Curial in Paris in 1985. Other recent exhibits include the Seoul Olympics in 1988, the Yorkshire sculpture park in 1996 and the millennium sculpture exhibition in Holland Park, London 2000.

He was awarded a CBE in 1969 and became a Royal Academician in 1994.

from the NewArtCentre (representing the Estate of Kenneth Armitage in partnership with Jonathan Clark Fine Art Ltd, London.)
Pandarus Version 1
1962
Aluminum
Unique
180.5 134.7 65 cm / 5ft11 4ft5 2ft1 1/2 ins
Wall
1965
Bronze
Edition 1 of 5
194 150 38 cm / 6ft4 1/4 4ft11 1ft3 ins
Anvil Figure
1961
Bronze
Edition 2 of 6
73 82 27 cm / 2ft4 3/4 2ft8 1/4 10 5/8 ins
L-Shaped Screen
1972 (cast 1991)

Plate and cast aluminum
Edition 1 of 4 (only one cast)
180 101 113.5 cm / 5ft10 7/8 3ft3 3/4 3ft8 11/16 ins
Richmond Oak
1985 (cast 1990)
Bronze
Edition 2 of 3
305 190.5 240 cm / 10ft x 6ft3 7ft6 1/2 ins
Studies for Pandarus
1964
Charcoal & wash on paper
Image: 50.8 40.6 cm / Framed: 74 64 cm
Image: 20 16 ins / Framed: 29 1/8 25 1/4 ins
Study for Figures in a Setting
1974
Charcoal, pen & wash on paper
Image: 52.2 63.5cm / Framed: 63.5 75 cm
Image: 20 1/2 25 ins / Framed: 25 29 1/2 ins

Biography

(19162002)

Kenneth Armitage was part of the great renaissance of British sculpture in the early post-war years; a renaissance which was appreciated by museums and collectors in New York and Europe even more than in Britain.

Born in 1916, Armitage attended Leeds College of Art and won a scholarship to study at the Slade School of Fine Art in London. During World War II, he served in the army. Between 1946 and 1956, he was head of sculpture at the Bath Academy of Art, Corsham, Wiltshire. It was one of the most innovative art schools in Britain at the time with an interesting group of students and staff; William Scott was head of painting. The art of bronze casting had been in severe decline because of the austerity of the post-war years; Armitage was instrumental in a foundry being built at Corsham so that work by students and staff could be cast under their own supervision. He held a Gregory Fellowship in sculpture at Leeds University (19535).

Armitage's very early works were carved in stone, but in the post-war years he began casting in bronze, initially using plaster modeled on metal armatures, later using clay. He first attracted international attention at the 26th Venice Biennale in 1952 as one of a group of young British sculptors including Reg Butler, Lynn Chadwick, William Turnbull and Eduardo Paolozzi, whose work demonstrated a new anti-monumental, expressionist approach. His first solo shows were held at Gimpel Fils, London (1952) and the Bertha Schaefer Gallery, New York (1954). By the 1960s he had begun working with wax, resin and aluminum; later he became interested in the combination of drawing and sculpture, experimenting with photographic, drawn and printed images of figures on three-dimensional surfaces.

In the 1980s his subjects shifted from figure to nature and he created a series of sculptures and drawings of oak tress in Richmond Park, London. Armitage has exhibited worldwide and is recognised as one of the major British sculptors of the twentieth century.