Artist biography

British sculptor. A leading figure among the group of young British sculptors known as the New Generation who came to critical prominence in the mid 1960s, he read modern languages before turning seriously to sculpture. After a postgraduate year at St Martin's School of Art in London from 1957 to 1958 and a year as assistant to Henry Moore, King began teaching at St Martin's with Anthony Caro and Eduardo Paolozzi, both of whom influenced the semi-figurative Brutalist sculpture, which he was then making in clay and plaster.

The shift in Caro's thinking about sculpture further reinforced the radical change that then took place in King's aesthetic.Towards the end of the 1960s challenges from other theoretical positions, whether those of Minimalism or the ‘expanded' forms of sculpture manifest as environmental and conceptual art, tempered his sculpture without undermining its strongly formalist basis. In the works he made at this time, King reaffirmed his fundamentally modernist conception of sculpture as a fixed, solid entity, autonomous and discrete, composed intuitively, and devised for art galleries and museums.

Psycho-physical states of being were explored through a wide range of forms and modes throughout the 1970s in works that greatly extended the diverse vocabulary he already employed. New materials, notably steel, elmwood and slate, were introduced and often combined in one piece, which also exemplifies his growing preference for complex, multifaceted compositions in place of the earlier holistic forms. His subsequent work has comprised mainly small, brilliantly hued, intricately composed metal sculptures.

Bibliography
C. Harrison: ‘Phillip King: Sculpture 1960–1968', Artforum, vii/4 (1968), pp. 33–7
Phillip King (exh. cat., ed. D. Thompson; Otterlo, Kröller–Müller, 1974)
Phillip King: Sculptures 1970–1975 (exh. cat. by P. King, Paris, Pal. Galliéra, 1975)
L. Cooke: ‘Phillip King's Recent Sculpture', Artscribe, 18 (1979), pp. 44–7
Phillip King (exh. cat., ed. R. Kudielka; London, Hayward Gal., 1981)

LYNNE COOKE

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