Magazine article Sculpture

Remembering William King

Magazine article Sculpture

Remembering William King

Article excerpt

William King, a great American sculptor, died peacefully in his East Hampton, New York, home on March 4, 2015, at age 90. Known for his gentle wit, King populated the art landscape with human types who confessed their idiosyncrasies through gesture and outsized proportions: leggy, tuxedoed con-men with rat-like heads and huge Ipana-white teeth; goofy types baring big toes through holes in their socks, and monolithic dancers, athletes, and lovers, their energies emanating from minimal frames. Humanity oozed from King's core and his ability to laugh at himself, his iconic figures unmistakably mimicking his own lanky form, their personas alternating between country bumpkin and consummate intellectual.

Born in Jacksonville, Florida, in 1925, King was also a talented musician who learned to play the violin on an instrument ordered from a Sears Roebuck catalogue. A member of the bluegrass band organized by the artist Audrey Flack, he fiddled along with Hampton friends, including the painter Connie Fox, who later became his wife. King distilled the animated rhythms of jazz into figurative works that have been compared to those of Alexander Calder, Elie Nadelman, and American folk art, all with a smiling nod to Alberto Giacometti. He studied art at the Brooklyn Museum Art School, Cooper Union, the University of Florida, and in Rome on a Fulbright scholarship. Though best-known for his Daumier-like caricatures, King was a sophisticated practitioner of modern form, working in many media, including aluminum, bronze, ceramic, wood, and synthetic fiber, stitched by hand and on his sewing machine. …

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