This is the second retrospective of the Irish-born artist’s work, the first having taken place in the Whitechapel Galleryin London in 1989. Spanning more than 40 years of Craig-Martin’sradical and innovative practice, the exhibition presents some 50paintings, sculptures, wall drawings, neon works and text pieces.
It traces the evolution of the artist’s work from his earlysculptures to his recent works using computer software. The everydayobjects that constantly recur in Craig-Martin’s artwork have beendescribed as “functioning as words do in language.” The selection ofthese objects, their color, spatial relationship and juxtaposition iswhat provides the tension and narrative within his work.
The influence of Craig-Martin’s early years in America,where he witnessed the birth of Minimalism and Conceptualism, can beseen in such works as On the Table (1970), comprising four metal buckets suspended on a table; and in arguably his most iconic and provocative piece, An Oak Tree(1973), which consists of no more than an ordinary glass of water on anequally ordinary shelf, accompanied by a text in which Craig-Martinasserts the supremacy of the artist’s intention over the object itself.Greeted with surprise—and even scorn—on its first showing, this work isnow widely regarded as a turning point in the development of conceptualart.
Prompted by a growing frustration with the limitationsinherent in the use of actual objects, Craig-Martin soon began to makedrawings of the objects he had been using.
The exhibition features a large number of his highly individual paintings, ranging from Painting and Picturing, created in 1978, to Eye of the Storm, dating from 2003, which was shown to great popular and critical acclaim in an exhibition of the same name in 2005.And examples of the artist’s most recent artistic departure can seen in Reconstructing Seurat (2004) and Deconstructing Piero (2005), based on two of his favorite historical paintings: Georges Seurats The Bathers at Asinéres and Piero della Francescas The Flagellation.Using computer software to separate the figures from their background,Craig-Martin reconstructed the images, replacing the original colorwith his own vivid palette.