Sculp­ture

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Ken­neth Ar­mitage Sculp­tor: A Cen­te­nary Cel­e­bra­tion

Var­i­ous au­thors (San­som & Co, £25)

The cen­te­nary of Ken­neth Ar­mitage’s birth (1916– 2002) is be­ing cel­e­brated with books and exhibitions geared to re­mind­ing us just how good a sculp­tor he was—some­thing easy to for­get once the artist him­self is no longer there to fo­cus in­ter­est. even when there is a large amount of his work scat­tered through the mu­se­ums and public places of the world—as in this case—the years im­me­di­ately af­ter an artist’s death can be dele­te­ri­ous to even the most well-es­tab­lished rep­u­ta­tion.

Ar­mitage first came to promi­nence in the 1950s with the so-called ‘Ge­om­e­try of Fear’ sculp­tors (in­clud­ing Lynn Chad­wick, Reg But­ler and Ge­of­frey Clarke) and was given a solo show at the 1958 Venice Bi­en­nale.

his work is less ar­moured and spiky than that of some of his con­tem­po­raries and is no­table for its rad­i­cal sim­pli­fi­ca­tions of the hu­man body. The critic John Berger thought he made his fig­ures look like table­tops and that their arms and legs stuck out like peo­ple in the stocks.

In the main es­say in this ex­cel­lent in­tro­duc­tion to the sculp­tor’s life and work, Ann el­liott ex­plains: ‘Through­out his ca­reer he re­turned time and again to mak­ing linked, sin­gle fig­ures and screens; hands, arms and legs made in iso­la­tion that tell of hu­man­ity’s wide and var­ied at­ti­tudes.’

John Mcewen, a close friend of the artist, con­trib­utes an af­fec­tion­ate and per­cep­tive pref­ace, and Tam­syn Wooll­combe has com­piled a 20-page chronol­ogy of the sculp­tor’s ca­reer. There are other spe­cial­ist es­says, but the chronol­ogy forms the back­bone of the book and of­fers a suc­cinct com­men­tary on his achieve­ment.

There is a Ken­neth Ar­mitage Foun­da­tion to pro­mote his name, award­ing prizes to stu­dents and con­sec­u­tive two-year res­i­dences in his for­mer Lon­don stu­dio. Mean­while, his best work con­tin­ues to res­onate and be­guile.

An ex­hi­bi­tion at Vic­to­ria Art Gallery, Bath, un­til Novem­ber 27 (www.vic­to­ria­gal.org.uk; 01225 477233), fo­cuses on Ar­mitage’s Cor­sham Court years. his later works, in­clud­ing some beau­ti­ful 1970/80s draw­ings of Richmond Oaks, will be the sub­ject of an ex­hi­bi­tion at The Tet­ley, Leeds, next spring (www. thetet­ley.org; 0113–320 2323).

Also next year, the Stan­ley & Au­drey Bur­ton Gallery, Univer­sity of Leeds, will show some of his 1950s sculp­tures and draw­ings from March 15 to July 15 (0113–343 2778; https://li­brary. leeds.ac.uk/art-gallery). Leeds, Ar­mitage’s birth­place, also has sev­eral of his late large pieces as civic sculp­tures. An­drew Lam­birth

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