Phillip King began making sculptural works at university, before studying under Anthony Caro at St Martin's School of Art and later working as an assistant to Henry Moore. Throughout the 1960s, King had several solo shows in the US and established a major reputation in both group and solo shows in Britain (where he continues to show at the Rowan Gallery) and overseas, using a variety of materials from fiberglass and metal through to wood and slate. He had had several retrospective exhibitions, including at the Whitechapel Art Gallery (1968) and at the Hayward Gallery (1981) and was commissioned to create work for Expo '70 in Tokyo. Further retrospectives of his work were held in 1997 at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park and at Forte de Belvedere, Florence. King was only the second English sculptor to be given this honour, after Henry Moore.
Phillip King was a Trustee of the Tate Gallery from 1967-69. He taught at St Martin's School of Art from 1959-1980 and was Professor of Sculpture at Hochschule der Kunste, Berlin (1979-80). He was Professor of Sculpture at the Royal College of Art from 1980-90, when he was made Professor Emeritus at the College. King was Professor of Sculpture at the Royal Academy Schools from 1990 until his election as President of the Royal Academy (1999-2004).