Kenneth Armitage: “Two Seated Figures”. Signed KA, 6/6 1957. Bronze. H. 32 cm. B. 43 cm. D. 31 cm.


“Two Seated Figures”. Signed KA, 6/6 1957. Bronze. H. 32 cm. B. 43 cm. D. 31 cm.

Literature: Tamsyn Woollcombe (red.): “Kenneth Armitage - Life and Work”, The Henry Moore Foundation & Lund Humphries Publishers, London 1997, Catalogue of Sculpture no. KA69. Provenance: Private collection, Denmark.

In 1952, Kenneth Armitage was selected to participate in the official exhibition “New Aspects of British Sculpture” at the Venice Biennale, where a whole generation of younger English sculptors achieved a massive and sudden international breakthrough. In 1958, he once again represented Britain in Venice with a retrospective solo exhibition. The end of the 1950s is a clear high water mark in Kenneth Armitage's artistic career with numerous commissions and museum sales to, among other places, The Museum of Modern Art in New York.

“Two Seated Figures” (1957) is in all respects an exemplary piece of work from an important period where Armitage's most typical characteristics is the reduction or splicing of multiple figures into surface-based entities or groups where extremities and attributes are distributed in a way so that the references to the individual figure fades in favour of a new whole.

At the time, it was especially the English art historian Sir Herbert Read (1893–1968) who placed Armitage and his peers into an art historical context and linked the English sculptures of the post-war era with the term “Geometry of Fear”. It was Read's existential point that all the sculptors of the young generation were raised in an environment impacted by no less than two world wars. Therefore violence, brutality, pain and despair had to be the foundation of artwork based on the human body or the humanist tradition in general. For other critics, the works were more ambiguous than the predominant existential interpretation suggested. Sculptures where the individual is dissolved – as is the case with “Two Seated Figures” – could also be seen as an optimistic and cheerful confirmation of the group as a social phenomenon. A critic such as Robert Melville (1905–1986) for instance believed that the same works that Herbert Read called ‘diaphragms of pain’ had ‘a charm and lovable quality that is rare in modern sculptures’.

This lot is subject to Artist's Royalty.

Condition report on request.


Paintings & sculptures, 6 June 2017


Modern sculptures


Kenneth Armitage (b. Leeds 1916, d. London 2002)


500,000–700,000 kr.


Price realised

430,000 kr.