William King


William King Biography

Sculptor William King is widely renowned for his signature flattened and stilt-legged figures, gesturing dramatically. Humorous and rife with social commentary, his work first offered an alternative to Abstract Expressionism in the 1950s, then to Minimalism and conceptual art in the 1960s and 1970s. Through one radical art historical shift after another, King has maintained his commitment to the figure and social realism. Working with aluminum and vinyl, he arranges his painted figures in configurations that transform various social activities into satirical or fantastic situations. A man in a business suit with hands in his pockets is a recurring figure throughout his work.

King was born in Jacksonville, Florida, in 1925, and grew up in Coconut Grove, Miami. After attending the University of Florida between 1942 and 1944, he came to New York in 1945, enrolling that year at Cooper Union and graduating in 1948. The following year he went to Rome on a Fulbright scholarship. Beginning in 1953, he taught for three years at the Brooklyn Museum Art School. He has also taught at the University of California, Berkeley, and elsewhere. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and was President of the National Academy of Design between 1994 and 1998. He is the father of Eli King and Amy King, and lives with his wife, Connie Fox, in East Hampton, New York. King’s earliest one-person shows were with the Alan Gallery, New York, beginning in 1954. The majority of his subsequent New York exhibitions were with the Terry Dintenfass Gallery. Of note in the writings about the artist are reviews by Fairfield Porter, in 1954 (in Art News) and 1960 (in The Nation), and numerous essays and reviews by Hilton Kramer. The fullest biographical account of the artist is by Gerald Nordland, in a 1994 gallery exhibition catalog entitled William King: Forty Years of Work in Wood. Previous awards include the Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, National Endowment for the Arts Individual Artist Grant, San Francisco Arts Commission Award for Outstanding Achievement in Sculpture, Honorary Doctorate for Outstanding Achievement in Sculpture from the San Francisco Art Institute, Honorary Doctorate from the California College of Arts and Crafts, and Honorary Doctorate from the Corcoran School of Art, Washington, D.C.




University of Florida, 1942 – 1944
Cooper Union Art School, New York, 1945 – 1948
Brooklyn Museum Art School, New York, 1949
Academia dei Belle Arti, Rome, 1949 – 1950
Central School, London, England, 1952


Sculpture Prize, Cooper Union Art School, New York, 1948
Fulbright Grant, 1949 – 1950
Margaret Tiffany Blake Fresco Award, 1951
Augustus St. Gaudens Medal, Cooper Union, New York, 1964
Creative Artists Public Service Award and Grant, 1974
Hakone Open-Air Museum, Japan, Distinction Prize, 1980
National Academy of Design, New York, Gold Medal, 1986
American Academy of Arts and Letters, New York, Louise Nevelson Award, 1995
Guild Hall of East Hampton, Lifetime Achievement in the Arts, Visual Arts Award, 1997


Alan Gallery, New York, 1954, 1955, 1961
San Francisco Museum of Art, San Francisco, California, 1970
Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara, California, 1970
Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis, Indiana, 1971
Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati, Ohio, 1971
Ringling Museum, Sarasota, Florida, 1971
Dag Hammerskjold Plaza, New York, 1971
Alpha Gallery, Boston, Massachusetts, 1971, 1982
Montgomery Museum of Art, Montgomery, Alabama, 1972, 1987
Jacksonville Art Museum, Jacksonville, Florida, 1972
Hopkins Art Center, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, 1972
Worcester Art Museum, Worcester, Massachusetts, 1972
Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, Connecticut, 1972
Tennessee Fine Arts Center, Nashville, Tennessee, 1972
University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Nebraska, 1972
Elvehjem Art Center, University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire, 1973
University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia, 1973
William Benton Museum, University of Connecticut, 1973
State Universities of New York (traveling exhibitions), 1974
Benson Gallery, Bridgehampton, New York, 1976
Zabriskie Gallery, New York, 1977
Louise Himmelfarb Gallery, Water Mill New York, 1980
Wingspread Gallery, Northeast Harbor, Maine, 1981
Gallery Paule Anglim, San Francisco, California, 1985, 1987
Hooks-Epstein Gallery, Houston, Texas, 1986
Hunter Museum, Chattanooga, Tennessee, 1987
David Heath Gallery, Atlanta, Georgia, 1987
Marilyn Pearly Gallery, New York, 1988
Polk Museum of Art, Lakeland, Florida, 1989
The Atrium at Maison Aican, Quebec, Canada, 1989
Brunnier Gallery and Museum, Iowa, 1990
Simmons Visual Arts Center, Brenau College, Gainesville, Georgia, 1992
Pitt Program Council, University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 1995
Seacon Square, Bangkok, Thailand, 1996
Terry Dintenfass Gallery, New York, 1962, 1964 – 1971, 1973, 1976, 1980 – 1984, 1986, 1989 – 1992, 1994, 1997
Miami Dade Junior College, Miami, Florida, 1997
Lizan Tops Gallery, East Hampton, New York, 1998, 1999
Dorothy Blau Gallery, Miami, Florida, 1998
Brenda Taylor Gallery, New York, 1999
Kraushaar Galleries, New York, 2000
Grounds for Sculpture, Hamilton, New Jersey, 2001
125 Maiden Lane, New York, 2001


Museum of Modern Art, New York. New Talent. 1955
Museum of Modern Art, New York. Recent Sculpture USA. 1955
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Annual Exhibitions. 1952, 1954, 1956, 1958, 1960, 1962, 1964, 1966, 1968.
Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Recent Figure Sculpture. 1972-1973. Exhibition traveled to Museum of Art, Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine; Hopkins Center, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire; Vassar College Art Gallery, Poughkeepsie, New York.
Art Gallery of Budapest, Hungary. Second International Biennial: Small Sculpture. 1973
Monumenta I, New port, Rhode Island. 1974
International Pavilion of Humor, Montreal, Canada. Man and His World. 1975
Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, Connecticut. Woodworks. 1976
Grand Palais, Paris, France. Contemporary Arts Show. 1976
Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, Massachusetts. Skowhegan Retrospective. 1976. Exhibition traveled to Colby College, Waterville, Maine.
Ringling Museum, Sarasota, Florida. International Florida Artists. 1981.
Dayton Art Institute, Dayton, Ohio. Shape in Sculpture. 1982
National Academy of Design, New York. 157th Annual Exhibition. 1982
Brainard Art Gallery, SUNY Potsdam, New York. Directions in Metal. 1982
Parrish Art Museum, Southampton, New York. Drawings on East End. 1988
Staller Center for the Arts, SUNY Stonybrook, New York. Eighteen Suffolk Artists. 1995
American Academy of Arts and Letters, New York. Invitational Exhibition of Painting and Sculpture. 1995
Parrish Art Museum, Southampton, New York. Face Value: American Portraits. 1995
The White House, Washington, DC. Twentieth Century American Sculpture. 1995
Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum, Wausau, Wisconsin. Figurative Tradition. 1998
Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, New York. Group Exhibition. 1999
Grounds for Sculpture, Princeton, New Jersey. Fall/Winter. 1999


Government Center, Akron, Ohio, 1978
Detroit Receiving Hospital, Detroit, Michigan, 1979
Laurel Shopping Center, Laurel, Maryland, 1979
Madison Art and Civic Center, Madison, Wisconsin, 1979
Lincoln Library, Fort Wayne, Indiana, 1980
Orlando International Airport, Orlando, Florida, 1983
Sterling Plaza, New York, 1985Alaska Council on the Arts, Anchorage, Alaska, 1985
Schlotzky’s, Austin, Texas, 1986
Park Place, Clearwater, Florida, 1986
Vision, Palo Alto, California, 1986
Florida State Council on the Arts, Lakeland, Florida, 1987
Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa, 1990
South Street Pedestrian Bridge, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1995


Allentown Art Museum, Pennsylvania; Arkansas Arts Center, Little Rock, Arkansas; Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts; Columbus Museum, Ohio; Fine Arts Center, Cheeckwood, Nashville, Tennessee; Cornell University, Ithaca, New York; Hopkins Art Center, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire; First National Bank of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois; Guggenheim Museum of Art, New York; Guild Hall, East Hampton, New York; Heckscher Museum of Art, Huntington, New York; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC; Hunter Museum of Art, Chattanooga, Tennessee; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, California; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; New York University, New York; Santa Barbara Museum of Art, California; State Universities of New York, Potsdam, New Paltz, Oswego, Plattsburgh, Jamestown, Fredonia; Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; University of California, Berkeley; University of Massachusetts, Amherst; Weatherspoon Art Gallery, University of North Carolina, Greensboro; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.