William King was born in Jacksonville, Florida, in 1925, and grew up in Coconut Grove, Miami. After attending the University of Florida between 1942 and 1944, he came to New York in 1945, enrolling that year at Cooper Union and graduating in 1948.
The following year he went to Rome on a Fulbright scholarship. Beginning in 1953, he taught for three years at the Brooklyn Museum Art School. He has also taught at the University of California, Berkeley, and elsewhere. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and was President of the National Academy of Design between 1994 and 1998. He is the father of Eli King and Amy King, and lives with his wife, Connie Fox, in East Hampton, New York.
King’s earliest one-person shows were with the Alan Gallery, New York, beginning in 1954. The majority of his subsequent New York exhibitions were with the Terry Dintenfass Gallery. Of note in the writings about the artist are reviews by Fairfield Porter, in 1954 (in Art News) and 1960 (in The Nation), and numerous essays and reviews by Hilton Kramer. The fullest biographical account of the artist is by Gerald Nordland, in a 1994 gallery exhibition catalog entitled William King: Forty Years of Work in Wood.