Reg Butler 1913-1981

British sculptor, Reg Butler worked as an architect before the war, and had performed his war service as a blacksmith making tools and repairing agricultural machinery, so was well acquainted with working, forging and welding iron. He turned to sculpture in 1944, even spending a brief period in 1948 as an assistant to Henry Moore . He had his first solo exhibition at the Hanover Gallery in London in 1949 which was immediately successful. He was invited to be the first Gregory Fellow in Sculpture at Leeds (EC Gregory was the director of Lund Humphries art publishers, based in Leeds and an art collector and founding member of the ICA). This was to ensure Butler’s inclusion in the British Council’s more challenging exhibition at the 1952 Venice Biennale ‘New Aspects of British Sculpture.’ The British Pavilion was celebrated as a huge success that year, generating positive international press and good sales. Nelson Rockefeller for example bought several works by Butler from the exhibition which continue to be exhibited at his home, now a museum, Kykuit in upstate New York. Butler’s reputation grew further with the many subsequent international touring exhibitions organised by the British Council.

In 1953 Butler won the ICA’s competition for a ‘Monument to the Unknown Political Prisoner,’ he was among 3,500 submissions and this had generated interest from across the globe. This proved to be a stylistic and reputational turning point for the sculptor, cementing his fame among artists across Europe and America but also eliciting an unsympathetic response from the British public. His design envisaged a triangular platform raised on stilts, on which hollow frame structures and a tall vertical pole were anchored. However, the similarity to a prisoner-of-war camp watchtower was not missed and sadly in the end, after years of delays and wrangling, the monument planned for the siting on the boarder of the east and west zones on Berlin was never erected. 

The notoriety of this commission meant he became one of the best known sculptors during the 1950s and 1960s in particular.
Butler’s later work consists of lifelike models of female figures.... read more

Reg Butler Group Exhibition Catalogue 2017 Group Exhibition Catalogue 2017

Reg Butler Sculpture

Study for Sacrificial Figure

Reg Butler: Study for Sacrificial Figure, 1952

Reg Butler Prints

Italian Girl

Reg Butler: Italian Girl, 1963