Phillip King

(1934 - )
Born in Tunisia, Phillip King came to England in 1945. After two years of National Service, he read Modern Languages at Cambridge University from 1955 to 1957 before completing a postgraduate year in the sculpture department at St. Martin's School of Art. After graduating in 1958 he worked as an assistant to Henry Moore and travelled to the US where he met the sculptor David Smith who encouraged him to work in steel. In 1959 King began teaching at St. Martin's with Anthony Caro and Eduardo Paolozzi, and in 1960 he won a Boise Scholarship to travel to Greece, where the classical architecture inspired a series of drawings in which he developed a new, abstract approach to sculptural form.

Included in the original 1965 New Generation show, Declaration, 1961, was one of his first abstract sculptures. Consisting of three basic geometrical forms in repetition, and made using urban building materials, it is a bold statement of King's intent to create a new sculptural language. Another iconic and innovative work from the period is Rosebud, 1962, one of a series of plastic sculptures based on the simple form of a cone. The outer layer is penetrated by a sinuous, vertical slit revealing a dark green core, which is suggestive of the fold of petals. King later made use of sheet metal painted in vivid colours to produce complex, multi-faceted compositions such as the yellow, red and blue sculpture, Quaver, 1970.

Phillip King was Professor of Sculpture at the Royal College of Art, London from 1980 to 1990, and was made Professor Emeritus in 1990. Elected President of the Royal Academy of Arts in 1994, he retired in 2004 to focus on his sculpture full-time. He continues to exhibit widely, and has works in major public collections including the National Gallery of Australia; Yale Center for British Art, Connecticut; and Tate, London.