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Clipboard Drawings No.1-5 Michael Craig-Martin


Michael Craig-Martin Dublin 1941 –

Date 1971
Object type drawing
Medium, technique pencil, tracing film and collage on paper

76.5 x 48 cm each

Inventory number MO.91.7-11
Collection Department of Art after 1800
On view This artwork is not on display

Craig-Martin spent his youth in the United States. The spread of Minimal Art and corollarily, a turn towards the fundamental principles predominated his artistic development. He returned to England in 1966 and participated in 1972 in the epochal “The New Art” exhibition, a pace-setting show in British conceptual art. Similarly to his fellow exhibitors, he was preoccupied by the basic questions of the nature of art, representation, the role of the viewer. What absorbed his attention was not individual experience but the general observation of objects, and he wished to create a sort of “objective illusionism”. His themes are exclusively ordinary household gadgets, either actual objects being mounted in the work or references made to the concept by representing the object deprived of its individual traits.
His series Clipboards sprouts from a real experience: in a Cambridge college he saw a clipboard with a paper and a pencil on a string. The sight of the board carried basic semantic principles for Craig-Martin. In the first pieces of the series, he used the constituents of the original ensemble as actual objects: a clipboard, sheet of paper, pencil, rubber and a drawing. Next, he suggested the functional relationship between the objects by removing one of these objects at a time from the ensemble, creating a subseries of five items. The starting point was that every independent element could only work in the company of the rest, and when one was missing, the interreference was modified. While assuming a meaning via a methodical transformation, the objects retain their real character but become parts of a formal and referential language. The series in the collection contains no real objects but opens up the possibilities of an inter-genre medium with its drawn and applied elements. The objects are indicated by their outlines on tracing paper. The missing element is present as collage showing vaguely through the tracing paper, as “ghost clipboard (paper, pencil, drawing, rubber)”, as the inscription at the bottom of the sheets reads.

Ferenc Tóth

This record is subject to revision due to ongoing research.

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