Kenneth Armitage

Kenneth Armitage CBE RA (British, 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 Lynn Chadwick had previously trained. He then attended the Slade school of Art in London where he was to flourish as a sculptor. Between 1939-1945 Armitage served in the army. Towards the end of the war he taught sculpture at Bath Academy of Art in Corsham where he stayed for ten years. Here, he developed his mature style.Armitage’s 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 1960s. 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 University 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. Armitage’s achievement and his passions for the human form and human condition, movement and trees. He was fascinated with abstraction and simplification of form, working mainly in bronze.

His work is represented in public and private collections world-wide. Armitage was awarded the CBE in 1969. 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 Academian in 1994.

N. Lynton: Kenneth Armitage (London, 1962); C. Spencer: Kenneth Armitage (London, 1973); British Sculpture in the Twentieth Century (exh. cat., ed. S. Nairne and N. Serota; London, Whitechapel A.G., 1981-2), pp. 124-33, 248.