Kenneth Armitage  British  1916-2002

Sculptor, born in Leeds 1916 of Irish & British descent. Kenneth Armitage won a scholarship from school took him in 1934 to Leeds College of Art, where Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth studied before him. There he studied painting and graphic work, in 1937; he continued his studies and went on to the Slade School in London. It was here that he received proper professional training in sculpture.

During the war he served in the army, and subsequently taught for 10 years (1946-56) at Bath Academy of Art in Corsham. At the end of this period he destroyed all his pre-war carvings wanting to start afresh starting in a new direction.

Armitage was reluctant to show his work before he was more confident of the direction he was taking. But after his first one-man show, at Gimpel Fils in 1952, at a late age of thirty-six, his reputation quickly gathered momentum and was consolidated six years later at the 29th Venice Biennale, where he won the prize for the best British sculptor under 45. His international status had been further established in 1956, when he won first prize in an international competition for a war memorial for the town of Krefeld in Germany. From this period, Armitage showed regularly both in London and New York. In 1953, he took up the Gregory Fellowship at Leeds University.

Later, in the 60s, he also began to model in clay in preference to plaster. He was visiting professor at the University of Caracas, Venezuela, in 1964; at Boston University, Massachusetts, in 1970; and visiting tutor at the Royal College of Art from 1974-79. In 1969 he was awarded a CBE.

In this later period, he became involved with experiments in the conjunction of drawing and sculpture through the use of silkscreen and bromide images.

Armitage continued to exhibit internationally throughout the 80s. He held a large retrospective at Artcurial in Paris in 1985, exhibited at the Seoul Olympics in 1988, at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park in 1996, and at the Millennium Sculpture Exhibition, Holland Park, in 2000. He became a Royal Academician in 1994.

His work can be found in Tate Gallery, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Arts Council and British Council.

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