Butler, Reginald Cotterell [Reg] (1913–1981) By Hudson, Kitty
A central figure among the post-war sculptors who came to prominence at the 1952 Venice Biennal, Reg Butler is best known for winning the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) competition to design a monument to The Unknown Political Prisoner in 1953, although the design was never fully realized as a sculpture. Butler initially trained as an architect, but started to achieve success and publicity as a sculptor with his first solo exhibition at the Hanover Gallery in 1949. His aesthetic influences were varied: from Freudian theory and Surrealism, to African and prehistoric art, as well as contemporary classicism and the post-war “art of trauma”. He went on to take part in the Festival of Britain in 1951 and, in the same year, began teaching at the Slade, where he eventually became the Director of Sculpture Studies in 1966. Though his technique developed from welding to model\ling and casting in bronze, his subject matter never strayed far from the female figure. From the late 1960s until his death in 1981, Butler produced increasingly distorted and overtly sexualized female figures in painted bronze, distancing himself from his more abstract modernist contemporaries.