Kenneth Armitage 1916-2002

Between 1934 and 1937, Kenneth Armitage studied at Leeds College of Art, before going on to the Slade School of Fine Art in London from 1937 until the onset of World War II in 1939. After the war, he was head of the sculpture department at Bath Academy of Art in Corsham, Wiltshire, from 1945 to 1956. He was a member of the London Group from 1953. He was selected to execute the war memorial in Krefeld, was made a CBE in 1969 and was elected to the Royal Academy in 1994. He died in London in 2002. 

 

Together with his contemporaries, Reg Butler, Eduardo Paolozzi and Lynn Chadwick, Armitage played an important part in the revival of a more expressionistic, post-war British sculpture coming to prominence at the Venice Beinnale in 1952. Armitage modelled subjects first in clay or plaster before going on to cast them in bronze. Apart from a few sculptures from his early days that are linked with abstraction, he subsequently continued to be concerned with the representation of the human form, not as separate individuals, but rather as a grouped whole, as in People in the Wind and Family Going for a Walk, of 1951. From 1952, these entities frequently dispersed into fragmentary elements breaking free: details such as sketched heads, arms, legs and breasts sprout out from the collective. Towards the end of his career, Armitage turned from the human figure to nature, sculpting and drawing the oak trees in Richmond Park.