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Reg Butler


Woman Walking

1951
 


The British sculptor Reg Butler was born April 28, 1913, in Buntingford, Hertfordshire, England. In 1933, he began to train as an architect. From 1937-1939, he taught at the Architectual Association and was responsible for the design of two private houses and the clocktower of the town hall in Slough (1936). After the outbreak of war, he became a blacksmith in West Sussex and wrote a series of 69 articles on War time building practice. At the end of the war he briefly resumed his architectual practice in London and started to attend art classes at the Chelsea School of Art.

His first one man exhibition was held at the Hanover Gallery, London in 1949. The following year he preceded Kenneth Armitage in receiving The Gregory Fellowship awarded by Leeds University. It was during his three years in Leeds that he fully developed his sculptural style. He abandoned his past methods of welding in Iron and turned instead to modelling in clay or plaster and casting the models in a thin light weight bronze. In 1952, Butler was among the eight sculptors chosen to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale where his work was highly acclaimed. The following year, 1953, he was awarded first prize in the International sculpture competition for a commemorative memorial to The Unknown Political Prisoner. He used the prize money to buy a house in Berkhamstead where he lived and worked for the rest of his life. He continued to make regular trips to London to teach at The Slade school of Art where he became head of the sculpture department. In 1962, he published Creative Development a characteristically unorthodox view of art education.

A retrospective of his work was held at Louisville, Kentucky in October 1963. Apart from occasional group shows, Butler did not exhibit again until 1973 when he had an exhibition at the Pierre Matisse gallery in New York. The ten years of silence were the result of his disillusionment with the possibilities of sculpture as public art and the rise of a new generation of abstract sculptors in the sixties which he felt made his modelled bronze figures appear dated. Reg Butler died in Berkhamstead, Hertfordshire, on October 23, 1981.

credits: Hangar Design Group