Jonathan Clark Fine Art

Kenneth Armitage

(British, 1916–2002)

figure lying on its side by kenneth armitage

Kenneth Armitage

Figure Lying on its side, 1957

Price on Request

monitor by kenneth armitage

Kenneth Armitage

Monitor, 1961

Price on Request

Biography

Timeline

Kenneth Armitage was born in Leeds in 1916. He studied at Leeds College of Art (1934-37) and at the Slade School of Fine Art, London (1937-39). During the war years he served in the army and in 1946 became Head of Sculpture at Bath Academy of Art, Corsham, a post which he held for ten years. War service meant that his studies were interrupted and he remained relatively unknown until the exhibition at the British Pavilion of the 1952 Venice Biennale, New Aspects of British Sculpture (which also featured work by Adams, Butler, Chadwick, Clarke, Meadows, Paolozzi and Turnbull), provoked intense interest and ushered in a new wave in British sculpture.
In 1956 he was awarded the first prize in the International War Memorial Competition in Krefeld, Germany, and in the 1958 Venice Biennale he won the David E. Bright Foundation Award. In 1964, he was Visiting Professor at the University of Caracas, Venezuela, at Boston University, Massachusetts in 1970, and from 1974 to 1979 was visiting tutor at the Royal College of Art. These international aspects of his career reflected Armitage's growing reputation as one of the leading British sculptors of his generation. From the early 1950s exhibitions of his work could be seen in the United States, Europe, Japan and South America, with group exhibitions ranging even wider. Three retrospective exhibitions held at the Whitechapel Art Gallery, London (1959), Artcurial, Paris (1985) and the Yorkshire Sculpture Park (1996-97) have summarised Armitage's achievement and his passions for the human form and human condition, movement and trees. His inclination as an artist has always been towards abstraction and simplification of form, with bronze a preferred medium. His work is represented in public and private collections world-wide. Armitage was awarded the CBE in 1969.
The movement and energy in Kenneth Armitage's sculpture is an abiding presence. Manifest in People in the Wind 1950, a sculpture acquired by the Tate Gallery, in which a cluster of four figures strain against the element, this force appears in different form with Garden Game 1983 where figures cavort and play against a dividing screen.
Armitage writes, "Naturally my sculpture contains ideas or experiences other than those that derive directly from observation of the human image, nevertheless it is always dressed in some degree in human form." Parallel themes occur in his drawings and prints.
Public Collections:Another cast is in the collection of the Scottish National Gallery of Art. Provenance Gabrielle Keiller, purchased 1963, gift to the Gallery in 1995

Exhibitions

2006
Edinburgh, Dean Gallery, After the War: Art in Europe 1945 to 1955, no cat. nos.
1997
Edinburgh, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Surrealism and After: The Gabrielle Keiller Collection, cat.2, repr.of the example in their collection b/w p.82
1972 - 1973
Norwich, Norwich Castle Museum and multi-venue tour (Arts Council of Great Britain), Kenneth Armitage, cat.3, repr. b/w (as Children Playing, 1953 [another cast])
1960
Hanover, Kestner-Gesellschaft, Kenneth Armitage / Lynn Chadwick, Exhibition catalogue, cat.7 (as Children Playing, 1953 [another cast])

Literature

Norbert Lynton, Kenneth Armitage, (Methuen, London, 1962 - Art in Progress series), unpaginated, repr. b/w (as Children Playing, 1953)
Tamsyn Woollcombe (ed.), Kenneth Armitage: Life and Work (Lund Humphries / Henry Moore Foundation, London, 1997), repr. b/w p.36