Kenneth Armitage (1916-2002)

Image of Kenneth Armitage's Diarchy sculpture in the Law School Quadrangle

Created 1957
Installed 1978

Bronze sculpture on stone base
Sculpture height: 68.5 in (173.99 cm)
Base height: 10 in (25.4 cm)

Located at Laird Bell Law Quadrangle
1111 E. 60th Street

Gift to The University of Chicago Law School by Mr. and Mrs. Dino D'Angelo

Artist Profile

 

 

 


Kenneth Armitage often described his artistic process as the physical realization of his subconscious inclinations. He gave corporeal form to objects and images that his mind fixated on, and then combined and rearranged them into new entities. Diarchy draws on a myriad of Armitage’s memories, resulting in a sculpture that simultaneously resembles a pair of seated figures, a single wall–like mass, and a collection of alien appendages. The work’s amalgamation of familiar bodily components into an unfamiliar configuration calls on its viewers to consider the paradoxical nature of the human memory—immediately accessible, yet highly selective and incomplete.

Diarchy was donated to the University of Chicago Law School by Mr. and Mrs. Dino D’Angelo. Installed in the Laird Bell Quadrangle in 1978, it is one of two bronze casts, the other of which is in London’s Tate Britain museum. The name Diarchy, meaning rule by two individuals, was not bestowed by Armitage, but by Gerald Forty of the British Council, an international culture organization. Forty must have thought the seated figures appeared regal. Armitage was uninterested in reading the work’s figures as royal, but he did not know what to call the piece and judged Forty’s name suitable. Before making its way to the D’Angelos, the work was shown in an Armitage solo exhibition at the 1958 Venice Bienniale, alongside the similar three-figured piece Triarchy.

 

Written by Christopher Cook, BA in Public Policy Studies, 2018

 

Archival Materials

1979 gift document for Diarchy

Source: LUNA Library, UChicago Public Art Collection and Archive


Sources

Diarchy, 1957, entry in The Tate Gallery Report 1970–1972, London 1972

Woollcombe, Tamsyn (editor). Kenneth Armitage: Life and Work. London: Lund Humphries Publishers, 1997

Conservation of Sculpture and Objects Studio, Inc. 13 September, 2011 condition report for Diarchy


Further Reading

Bach, Ira, and Mary Gray. A Guide to Chicago’s Public Sculpture. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983. P. 245