Reg Butler 1913-1981


Private Collection, UK


London, Tate Gallery, British Sculpture in the Sixties, 25 Feb. - 4 April 1965, cat. 16

London, Gimpel Fils, Reg Butler: Musée Imaginaire: Bronzes, Middle and Late Period, 10 Sept. - 11 Oct. 1986, cat. 22 (listed as 'Head and Shoulders')


Margaret Garlake, The Sculpture of Reg Butler, 2006, Lund Humphries, cat. no. 231, p. 164 (illus.)

Reg Butler was born in Buntingford, Hertfordshire in 1913, and began making sculpture in 1944 without formal training. He was briefly Henry Moore's assistant in 1948 and he held his first one-man show at the Hanover Gallery, London in 1949. In 1952 he was selected for the British Pavilion at the Venice Biennale and in 1953 he won first prize in an international competition organised by the Institute of Contemporary Art for a 'Monument to the Unknown Political Prisoner', over such established artists as Alexander Calder and Barbara Hepworth. Although the final sculpture was never realised, a model is in the collection of the Tate London and the competition established Butler's reputation as amongst the finest British sculptors of his generation, and his inclusion in the 1952 'New Aspects of British Sculpture' positioned him as a promising modernist. Butler returned to a more figurative style form the late 1950s through to the 1960s, particularly taking young women as the subject for his sculptures. Butler was an articulate writer, lecturer and radio broadcaster, and taught at the Slade School of Fine Art between 1951 and 1980. His work can be found in most major public collections. He died in 1981.