Kenneth Armitage, R.A. (1916-2002)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more PROPERTY FROM AN IMPORTANT PRIVATE COLLECTION
Kenneth Armitage, R.A. (1916-2002)

Friends Walking

Kenneth Armitage, R.A. (1916-2002)
Friends Walking
bronze with a dark brown patina
24¾ in. (62.9 cm.) wide
Conceived in 1952.
with Gimpel Fils, London, where purchased by Mrs William A.M. Burden, October 1953.
The Estate of Mrs William A.M. Burden; Christie's, London, 22 October 1997, lot 37.
with Connaught Brown, London, where purchased by the present owners, December 1997.
Exhibition catalogue, Kenneth Armitage, Norwich, Arts Council of Great Britain, Castle Museum, 1972, n.p., no. 2, another cast illustrated.
Exhibition catalogue, Kenneth Armitage; 80th Birthday Survey, Wakefield, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, 1981, p. 2, exhibition not numbered, another cast illustrated.
T. Woollcombe, Kenneth Armitage: Life and Work, London, 1997, pp. 32-33, no. KA26, another cast illustrated.
A. Elliott, T. Woollcombe, J. Wood and J.McEwen, Kenneth Armitage Sculptor: A Centenary Celebration, Bristol, 2016, pp. 60-61, 120, pls. 31-32, another cast illustrated.
J. Scott and C. Milburn, The Sculpture of Kenneth Armitage, London, 2016, pp. 7, 37, 49, 96, no. 27, another cast illustrated.
Venice, British Council, British Pavilion, XXIX Biennale, Kenneth Armitage, S.W. Hayter and William Scott, Summer 1958, no. 62, another cast exhibited.
London, British Council, Whitechapel Art Gallery, Kenneth Armitage: A retrospective exhibition of sculpture and drawings based upon the XXIX Venice Biennale of 1958, July - August 1959, no. 8, another cast exhibited.
Norwich, Arts Council of Great Britain, Castle Museum, Kenneth Armitage, December - January 1972, no. 2, another cast exhibited: this exhibition travelled to Bolton, Museum and Art Gallery, January - February 1973; Oldham, City Art Gallery, February - March 1973; Kettering, City Art Gallery, March - April 1973; Nottingham, Victoria Street Gallery, April - May 1973; Portsmouth, City Museum and Art Gallery, May - June 1973; Plymouth, City Art Gallery, June - July 1973; Llanelli, City Museum and Art Gallery, August - September 1973; Leeds, City Art Gallery, September 1973; and Hull, Ferens Art Gallery, October 1973.
Wakefield, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Kenneth Armitage; 80th Birthday Survey, June - September 1981, exhibition not numbered, another cast exhibited.
Special notice
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Louise Simpson
Louise Simpson

Lot Essay

When considering Armitage's People in the Wind, 1950-51, Antony Gormley wrote of Friends Walking:

'The fragile nature of that realisation continues with Friends Walking. Here, the registering membrane has been radicalised further: rather than an allusion to cloaks flapping, we simply have a wall out of which arms cross and legs are impressed - legs that fail to connect with any one head. Here there are eight legs, three heads and five arms. By dismissing or disregarding any physiological logic, Armitage escapes both the weight of the monumental and any kind of memorialising, in spite of being associated with the post-war years of recovery and a context of ration books and austerity. This work marvellously evokes the collective experience of being, held between sky and earth, and conscious of the horizon: the solidarity of being exposed in space together with others. I find this work the most profound and challenging of all these early works because the wall now tells the story of intimacy and distance begun three years earlier. The striations that run across this piece seem to evoke the strata in rock, the lines of a rising tide and multiple horizons. So the allusions to landscape is now embodied. Legs are like tree trunks, holding the potential of a world registered by a body that is no longer reacting to it, as in People in the Wind, but folding arms as if to embrace and internalise it.

'Armitage seems to have an instinctive understanding of sculpture's ability to be a thing in the world and yet allude to the most fugitive aspects of human experience, the most relevant being that of our relationship to space and the elements' (A. Gormley (foreword), in J. Scott and C. Milburn, The Sculpture of Kenneth Armitage, London, 2016, p. 7).

There is another cast of Friends Walking in the British Council Collection. Artist's records suggest that Friends Walking was cast by Galizia and cast in no more than an edition of 6.

We are very grateful to James Scott for his assistance in preparing this catalogue entry.

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