Isaac Witkin

(1936 - 2006)
Isaac Witkin was born in South Africa in 1937 but emigrated to England in 1956, enrolling in Caro's sculpture department at St. Martin's School of Art in 1957. After graduating in 1960 he worked as an assistant to Henry Moore for two years, and was given his first solo exhibition at the Rowan Gallery in 1963. He began teaching at St Martin's the same year, but left London two years later to move to the United States, where he took up a residency at Bennington College in Vermont, and later became a US citizen.


Witkin's early wooden sculptures such as Maternity, 1962, show the influence of Henry Moore's organic form, however new materials soon began to play an important role in his art, particularly fibreglass. Volution, 1964, is typical of the brightly coloured, biomorphic forms created by Witkin during this period, which Bryan Robertson described as being "in a state of dynamic equilibrium so that the mind is uncertain whether the forms are flowing down towards the ground, or upwards, from it". From 1965, Witkin moved away from fibreglass to produce welded steel and aluminium structures with complex 'cubist' compositions, such as Vermont II (Summer). While this sculpture makes use of two vibrant, contrasting colours, the slightly later Dirge, 1968, explores spatial relationships using a single colour to unify the three separate elements.


Witkin continued to teach sculpture and exhibited extensively in the USA until his death in 2006. His work features in numerous public collections around the world including the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon, Portugal; the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington DC, and Tate, London.