Phillip King was a former student of Anthony Caro before working as an assistant to Henry Moore. He is a leading figure in twentieth Century British sculpture and is recognised for his experimentation with abstraction, construction, material and colour.
As he turned 80 Phillip King continued to produce new work. This film captures the artist building and fashioning a new piece Recoil 2014 in his studio.
It’s got a real dynamism; it’s what I call it Recoil. It, kind of, has things going one way and things going the other way, push and pull – the, kind of, release from gravity, as it were. And how to cope with gravity, and play with it, and go with it, and go against it, and so on. So it’s all about that.
Tate Britain marked the 80th birthday of the artist with a display of six of King’s works from the 1960s in the Duveen Galleries. The display celebrated King’s significant contribution to late 20th century sculpture.
There are some… I’m getting angles to angle up now, which is quite nice. Whether I want that or not is another matter. It’s all about balance, really. It’s all about the feelings you get, which are really quite difficult to describe, to do with the eye and the feeling you get from space, colour, light, everything. We put it on a … somewhere where I can glance at it quickly off the side, as it were. I quite like doing that, because then your brain isn’t concentrating; you just, sort of … all you’re doing is looking, and that tells you more than if you think about it.
I think it’s getting more interesting from the back now. I call this a front. Sometimes I end up, the front being the back, but never mind. Always like to have a front.
Yeah, that seems to be a bit lost, this piece. I need to lock it in somehow, so it feels … it can’t move anywhere. Put this thing here, and we’ll try and put it… something has it, locks it in like that. Basically, I think I can start with making some of these elements here.
I’m going to try and make it ten times bigger, so my unit is going to be times ten of the model. I’m hoping it’s going to sink in. The bottom like that. Like that. That’s it. Yes, all my calculations have gone to pieces!
I find this bit important, somehow, when it sticks out here. It’s structurally quite a tricky sculpture to make, this one, because it has… everything has to support everything else, and yet not appear to support it.
Assistant: Now, if you hold it I’ll go round the other side.
Right on the other side; if you go over the other side, down, and like that. Yes, that’s it.
Assistant: Yes, that’s it.
That’s it, that’s gone in, now. I think I may have to have another hole, but… and the thing is, I have to decide where to have it. Yeah, pretty central. Hold on, let me just lift the whole thing up here. If you can… is it through?
Oh, that’s great. I’m really pleased with it. It’s got a real dynamism; it’s what I call it Recoil. It, kind of, has things going one way and things going the other way, push and pull – the, kind of, release from gravity, as it were. And how to cope with gravity, and play with it, and go with it, and go against it, and so on. So it’s all about that.