British sculptor Phillip King’s primal works go on show across London
If Phillip King is not yet a familiar name, it will be soon, thanks to three appearances in London this summer by the octogenarian British sculptor.
The largest is a condensed survey of his career at Thomas Dane Gallery. Nine Works from the 1960s to today are on show, and most famously ’Rosebud’ - a giant pink and blue plastic cone created in 1962. (A sister cone, ’Twilight’, was sold during Frieze Masters last year for a six figure sum.)
’King has always been fascinated with the apex as a shape,’ explains François Chantala, a partner at the Thomas Dane Gallery, who first approached King in 2012 with the idea of a show. Throughout his 50-year career, King has referenced tents, tepees and wigwams (he refers to two objects leaning together as ’a primal act of sculpture’) in materials from concrete to steel to wood to plaster.
King trained under Anthony Caro at Central Saint Martins in the late 1950s and went on to assist Henry Moore. He became a fixture among the British avant garde and in 1968 represented Britain - along with Bridget Riley - at the Venice Biennale.
At one end of the gallery is ’Blue Blaze’, a series of ultramarine abstract sculptures which look like an upturned stage set and are inspired by ancient Greek ruins. ’Spectrum’ (2007) is a series of dazzlingly coloured boxes. It demonstrates King’s skills as a colourist, walong with his masterful use of materials forms.
Down the road in an upstairs gallery is a family of white sculptures. Among them is ’Window Piece’ (1960), a concrete window, half open, (or half closed?) and ’In and Out’ which was created specifically for the exhibition. It combines King’s signature bright colours, organic and abstract shapes and different materials. ’It’s almost like a Best Of,’ explains Chantala.
King also created huge public sculptures, the most famous of which, ’Clarion’, stands in Fulham Broadway. This month, the Thomas Dane Gallery is exhibiting nine others, including ’Genghis Kahn’ (his most famous winged cone) and the 8-metre ’High, Sky and Bling’ in the Ranelagh Gardens of the Royal Hospital Chelsea during Masterpiece (26 June - 25 August).
From 1999 to 2004, King was president of the Royal Academy. In what is a further celebration of his 80th birthday this year, a second edition of his new sculpture ’Skyhook’ (another is at Thomas Dane Gallery) forms part of the gallery’s summer exhibition.