Sculptor Kenneth Armitage was born in Yorkshire on July 18, 1916. He studied sculpting at the Leeds College of Art and the Slade School of Fine Art in London. Following his time at Slade, Armitage was meant to have a travelling scholarship from Leeds, but was prevented by the precarious European political situation of the late 1930s. Jobless and not wishing to be a burden on his parents, Armitage volunteered for the armed forces at the outbreak of World War II in 1939.
After the war, he accepted a position at the Bath School of Art. In 1952, he became internationally famous when his work was featured at the 26th Venice Biennale—he calls this breakthrough “the beginning of [his] professional life.” Armitage went on to an illustrious sculpting and teaching career, including professorships in West Germany, Venezuela, and the United States. He was awarded a C.B.E. (Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) in 1969, an honor given in recognition of significant contributions to the arts and sciences.
Armitage’s sculpture—often bronze or brass—is expressionistic, figural, and abstract. The anthropomorphic figures in his pieces are often conglomerated into a larger mass, blurring the division between the organic and the inorganic, the single and the multiple. His 1957 piece, Diarchy, is located in the Laird Bell Law Quadrangle
Written by Christopher Cook, BA in Public Policy Studies, 2018