Kenneth Armitage was born in Leeds and studied at Leeds College of Art like Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth before him. Further study in London was followed by army service during the 2nd World war. After the war he ran the sculpture department at the Bath Academy, Corsham.
His work came to international prominence in the 1952 British Pavilion at the Venice Biennale where he exhibited alongside his contemporaries Reg Butler, Lynn Chadwick, Bernard Meadows and others who were championed as the ‘New Bronze Age’ sculptors. In 1953 he became the first Gregory Fellow in Sculpture at Leeds University. Throughout the 50’s and 60’s he exhibited widely and was collected by all the major museums worldwide. He also became a visiting professor in Venezuela, the USA and Germany. He was elected a Royal Academician in 1995.
Inspired by the ‘simple things’ in and around his life, washing on a line, buildings, aeroplane wings, screens, he incorporated similar structures into figurative sculpture forming his familiar planar forms. The least ‘fearful’ of the ‘geometry of fear’ sculptors at Venice in 1952, the simplicity of his work was often imbued with a wry sense of the humour in daily life.