Kenneth Armitage

Square Figure Relief

1954

Medium
Bronze
Dimensions
Displayed: 1025 x 690 x 173 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Purchased 1958
Reference
T00186

Display caption

Between 1946 and 1956, Armitage began to work on single figures or groups of figures cast in bronze. This relief was made in Leeds while the artist was attached to the University there for two years as Gregory Fellow in Sculpture. According to Armitage it is a transitional work: 'My work since 1949 had been fairly consistent in character ... and I found it difficult to revert to bulky, solid or plastic work without rediscovering some of the old problems and indecisions of my earlier pre 1949 efforts. I didn't want to go back over this old ground.' At this time Armitage had made only two reliefs of which this was the second and the largest. It was made in an edition of three and is related to the Tate's, Seated Woman with Square Head, 1955-7.

Gallery label, September 2004

Catalogue entry

T00186 SQUARE FIGURE RELIEF 1954
 
Not inscribed.
Bronze, 42×27×5 3/4 (102×68·5×15).
Purchased from the artist (Grant-in-Aid) 1958.
Exh: The New Decade, Museum of Modern Art, New York, and U.S. tour, May 1955–March 1956 (no numbers, repr. p.58); Bertha Schaefer Gallery, New York, April 1956 (10); Venice Biennale, 1958 (British Pavilion, 67), and Paris, Cologne, Zürich and Rotterdam 1958–9; Whitechapel Art Gallery, July–August 1959 (18).
Repr: Art News, LIV, summer 1955, p.39.

The edition is of three casts, this being the first. The artist wrote (28 April 1958): ‘This work was made in Leeds in 1954 while being attached for two years to the University as Gregory

Fellow in Sculpture. My work since 1949 has been fairly consistent in character and was for me an end along one line of thought, and I found it most difficult to revert to bulky, solid or plastic work without rediscovering some of the old problems and indecisions of my earlier pre-1949 efforts. I didn't want to go back over this old ground, but to develop from where I was. I knew what I wanted to do, but was not sure how to carry it off, or how to discard those elements in my work which had ceased to hold my interest but which still seemed to cling - perhaps by force of habit. I hoped by going to Leeds that a completely different environment might do something to help this change, and looking back now, I can seen that the period there was transitional in many ways.’

Published in:
Mary Chamot, Dennis Farr and Martin Butlin, The Modern British Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, London 1964, I

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