Armitage studied at the Leeds College of Art and the Slade School of Fine Art in London before joining the British Army in 1939. Armitage became head of the sculpture department at the Bath Academy of Art in 1946, a year after completing his military service, and served for a decade. In 1952, he held his first one-man show in London. In 1953, he became Great Britain's first university artist in residence, at the University of Leeds (to 1956). In 1958, he won best international sculpture under age 45 at the Venice Biennale. Armitage was made CBE in 1969 and was elected to the Royal Academy in 1994.
Armitage's striking mature style was evident as early as 1952. Most of his works are recognizably human, but are sometimes joined with the forms of animals or furniture. Many displayed quirky humor. Armitage was also interested in Egyptian and Cycladic art and his works have an archaic flavor. He was featured in the 1964 documentary film "5 British Sculptors (Work and Talk)" by American filmmaker Warren Forma.
During the 1960s and beyond, Armitage adapted to the styles of the times, sometimes incorporating plastic or spray paint.
- "Armitage, Kenneth",Encyclopaedia Britannica. 2008. Encyclopaedia Britannica Online. November 26, 2008.
- Ratcliff, Carter. "Armitage, Kenneth", Academic American Encyclopedia, 1991 edition, volume 2, pp. 173–174.
- Schmalenbach, Werner: Catalogue covering the exhibition of 1960 at Kestner-Gesellschaft, Hannover (in German).