Born in 1932 in São Paulo, Brazil, Ron King is best known as the founder of the celebrated Circle Press. During the 1940s and 1950s, King studied at Ardingly College and Chelsea School of Art in England. After beginning his career primarily as a painter, he started printmaking while teaching at Farnham School of Art in the 1960s. In 1967, King established Circle Press to publish his first book, The Prologue to Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.
Circle Press operated in Guildford until 1988 when the press moved to London. King envisioned the press as a collaborative venture in which a circle of artists and writers could produce work together. Over the course of its history, the press worked with more than 55 artists, including Norman Ackroyd, Tom Phillips, John Christie, and Julia Farrer, as well as over 50 writers and poets, including Roy Fisher and Kenneth White. In addition to collaborations with modern writers, the press also produced interpretations of classic texts such as Macbeth (1970) and Antony and Cleopatra (1979). In all, Circle Press produced over 200 publications and individual works. The press won recognition for stretching the definition of a book with its use of adventurous formats and materials such as glass, stone, metal, and wax. The Mirror Book (1985), made with mirror glass covers, mirror foil pages, and no text, is one example of the press’s pioneering work.
King’s own work with the press often featured the themes of masks and character, and his abstracted mask designs are distinctive for their bold use of color. Although Circle Press has closed its doors, King continues his artistic practice today as a painter, collagist, and sculptor, focusing on large wooden sculpture.
The publications of Ron King and Circle Press can be found in many collections, including the National Art Library of the Victoria & Albert Museum, the Tate Britain Gallery Library, and the National Gallery of Australia. In 2002, the Yale Center for British Art held a major retrospective exhibition of the work of Circle Press.
Books with Ron King available from Boreas Fine Art:
[ King, Ronald ] Shakespeare, William. Macbeth. Guildford: Circle Press Publications. 1970.
[ King, Ronald ] Shakespeare, William. Antony & Cleopatra. Guildford: Circle Press Publications. 1979.
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