Kenneth Armitage

People in the Wind


Not on display

Kenneth Armitage 1916–2002
Object: 648 × 400 × 343 mm
Purchased 1960

Display caption

This sculpture was exhibited in the British section of the 1952 Venice Biennale, along with works by Reg Butler, Lynn Chadwick, Bernard Meadows and others. Though in his catalogue essay, Herbert Read associated their art with Cold War anxieties, Armitage’s work was often humorous or faintly erotic.

Gallery label, September 2016

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Catalogue entry

T00366 PEOPLE IN A WIND 1950
Not inscribed.
Bronze, 25 1/2×15 3/4×13 1/2 (65×40×34).
Purchased from the artist (Grant-in-Aid) 1960.
Exh: Whitechapel Art Gallery, July–August 1959 (6, repr. pl.2 and wrongly dated 1951).
Lit: Carola Giedion-Welcker, Contemporary Sculpture, New York, 1955, p.186 (repr. with erroneous caption as ‘Family going for a Walk’); Kenneth Armitage, ‘The Artist Speaks’ in The Listener, 1 September 1960, p.333 (another cast repr.).
Repr: Annual Review of Works by Artists of Gallery Gimpel Fils, summer 1952, p.7; Studio, CLXI, 1961, p.129.

The artist told the compiler (16 August 1960) that the group was modelled in 1950 at Corsham, where he was teaching at the Bath Academy. He had seen a group of people walking in a wind and he had also become interested in a plant with long stalks. Two smaller studies, 9 in, high, were cast in bronze. He also made a second full-scale version at the same time as this work, which is identical except that it lacks the hands at the back. No.T.366 is the last cast of an edition of six. The first, exhibited at the Venice Biennale in 1952 (British Pavilion, 101), was purchased by Peggy Guggenheim; other casts were purchased later for the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the Museum von der Heydt, Wuppertal. An early work, it is one of the first in which the artist found his characteristic style.

In a television programme, ‘The Artist Speaks’ (reprinted in The Listener, loc. cit.), he said: ‘We live in a world of verticals and horizontals.... Although it is mainly for movement it is also for this reason that I like sometimes to make my figures, my sculpture, on a slant, so that they run across this rather rigid pattern.’

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

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