University Museums

Title: Forward
Name: Sculpture
Date: 1984
Medium: Aluminum
Dimensions: 114 x 240 x 82 in. (289.6 x 609.6 x 208.3 cm)
Classification: Sculpture
Credit Line: Gift of James R. and Barbara R. Palmer. In the Art on Campus Collection, University Museums, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa.
Location: Iowa State University, Elizabeth and Byron Anderson Sculpture Garden
Object Number: U93.20
More Information
A collection of eighty sculptures by William King was exhibited at the Brunnier Art Museum in 1990 as part of a retrospective covering four decades of the artist's work. The exhibition was mounted in celebration of the installation of King's public sculpture Stride commissioned for the Lied Recreation Center. Forward was installed in front of the Scheman Building as part of the exhibition. Eventually, it was secured on loan and later donated to the University Museums.

The sculpture is made up of twelve almost-identical figures moving as a group in the same direction. They are placed together in such a way that it is difficult to discern one from another when viewing the sculpture from the front, but from the side the viewer can clearly see each figure.

During its time at Iowa State, Forward has come to represent the students of the University and citizens of Ames as they pass through campus in a steady stream. The stylistic similarities and tight groupings of the figures emphasize people's common qualities. However, each is distinctly individualistic.

Modeled after the artist's own tall, lanky body, "Forward" is composed of twelve, almost-identical figures moving as a group in a forward direction. They are placed together in such a way that it is difficult to discern one from aother when viewing the sculpture from the front; but from the side, the viewer can clearly see each figure.

On campus, "Forward" has come to represent the students of Iowa State passing in a steady stream through a college life of academics and activites. The stylistic similarities and tight grouping of the figures emphasize people's common qualities as they all walk across the beautiful Iowa State campus between classes, saunter to the library, stride to football games, line up for a concert, and promenade to graduation.


William King (b. 1925) was born in Florida. From 1942-44 he attended the University of Florida. For a short time afterward, King worked for Pan American Airways repairing seaplanes. He then studied at the Cooper Union Art School in New York City, and in 1949 won a Fulbright Scholarship to study in Rome at the Academia dei Belle Arti. Since the 1960s King has lived and exhibited in and around New York City creating sculpture in bronze, wood, ceramic, metal, and plastic. King has exhibited at art institutions such as Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art. He has been shown at galleries across the country, most recently in a solo show at the Alexandre Gallery in New York City which received acclaim from the NY Times. His art is in collections from renowned establishments such as the Guggenheim Museum of Art, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Metropolitan Museum of Art, as well as private owners. His sculptures adorn college campuses across the nation, public spaces such Penn’s Landing in Philadelphia, PA, and smaller public collections like Guild Hall, East Hampton, NY. In 2007 King received the Life Time Achievement Award from the International Sculpture Center.