Kenneth Armitage (1916-2002)
Linked Figures
signed and numbered 'ARMITAGE/5/6' (on the base) and stamped 'H NOACK BERLIN' (on the base)
bronze with a green and brown patina
40 in. (101.6 cm.) high
Conceived in 1949 and cast in 1960.
Anonymous sale; Sotheby's, London, 5 December 2001, lot 160, where purchased by the present owner.
N. Lynton, Kenneth Armitage, London, 1962, another cast illustrated.
T. Woollcombe (ed.), Kenneth Armitage: Life and Work, London, 1997, pp. 27, 143, no. KA13, 1951 cast illustrated.
London, Whitechapel Gallery, Kenneth Armitage, July - August 1959, no. 2, plaster exhibited.

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André Zlattinger

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Lot Essay

'The year after I made Moon Figure I made two figures which I called Linked Figures (1949), and that was before I made People in the Wind (1950). In Linked Figures the figures were definitely merged together: instead of having two bodies they were all one, with the arms and legs on the outside. And so in a sense that was a very important break with my previous work' (Kenneth Armitage quoted in T. Woollcombe (ed.), Kenneth Armitage: Life and Work, London, 1997, p. 24).

Linked Figures was conceived in 1949 at Bath Academy of Art, Corsham Court and later cast in Berlin in 1960 by the German Foundry of Noack in an edition of 6. The introduction to Hermann Noack, whose grandfather had started the foundry in 1897, was through Harry Fischer of the Marlborough Gallery who introduced both Armitage and Henry Moore to them.

In Linked Figures the sculptural heads have become small but curiously expressive lumps, the static plane of the body has become a tense stretched membrane only occasionally suggestive of the rounded forms of anatomy. 'The flatness in much of my recent work was the result of several interests, but mostly it was a device by which I could achieve area without bulk I wished to make objects in which the formation of the bulk could easily be seen as well as the means by which they stood upright' (Kenneth Armitage's statement in A. Ritchie, The New Decade, New York, 1955, pp. 56-59).

Linked Figures was Armitage's first major sculpture to incorporate the theme of figures grouped into a single form and is one of his earliest sculptures to incorporate two definite sides, and as such is the beginning of a series of sculptures that he developed for much of the next decade. 'Joining figures together I found in time I wanted to merge them so completely they formed a new organic unit - a simple mass of whatever shape I liked containing only that number of heads, limbs or other detail I felt necessary. So in a crowd we see only the face or hand that catches our eye, for we don't see mathematically but only what is most conspicuous or important or familiar' (Kenneth Armitage's statement in P. Selz, New Images of Man, p. 23).

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