Phillip King, ‘Genghis Khan’ 1963
Phillip King
Genghis Khan 1963
© Phillip King

Tate Britain marks the 80th birthday of renowned British sculptor Phillip King (b. 1934) with a display of six of King’s works from the 1960s in the Duveens Galleries. The display celebrates King’s significant contribution to late 20th century sculpture.

King played a vital role in changing the face of British sculpture through his experimentation with abstraction, construction, material and colour. The display includes key works from Tate’s collection made during the 1960s, including Genghis Khan 1963 and the important loan of Rosebud 1962 (private collection), his first coloured sculpture using fibreglass.

King’s use of innovative materials such as fibreglass allowed him to mould shapes and structures not feasible with plaster or other traditional materials. Influenced by Matisse, he was also a pioneer of colour - describing it as ‘no longer subservient to the material but something on its own, to do with surface and skin’ and used it to bind the separate parts of a sculpture together.

This rich combination of materials, techniques, forms and colour enabled King to create sculpture detached from conventional, figurative ideas. King also deferred from tradition by choosing to place his works on the floor, occupying a space alongside the viewer, rather than on plinths.