Thursday, 28 January 2016




 LEFT Untitled (head phones medium) 2014, acrylic on aluminium, 122x122 cm
 RIGHT Untitled (xbox control) 2014, acrylic on aluminium 200x200 cm

Once upon a time, in the 1970s in Scunthorpe (and elsewhere), there was a crime wave. Many new people were the victims of theft, or even robbery. Why? Because for the first time young boys and youths were carrying about their person an object which could easily be snatched and which had financial value - skate boards.  A few years later the craze had passed, and with it the crime.

This exhibition is called Transience - which one dictionary defines as ''staying for a short time".  The Serpentine Gallery is full of sumptuous paintings of ready made and fabricated objects, each one trailing its unseen history. The walls are lined with witty, elegant objects we have known and loved and thought essential to our welfare or amusement, objects which we now regard with amused benevolence. 

Michael Craig Martin (above), one of the most distinctive and distinguished picture-makers of our time, has explored procedures outside the fine art tradition partly to integrate his art into the world of everyday objects. The result is an exhilarating experience: an explosion of colour;  a history of contemporary design; enigmas; nostalgia;  a visual cryptic crossword of references to 2OC artists and their work - all in a perfect, self- contained, spectacular and elusive world.

LEFT  Eye of the Storm 2002, Acrylic on canvas,  335.3 x 279.4cm
CENTRE Cassette 2002,Acrylic on canvas, 289.5 x 208.3cm
RIGHT Flashlight,2002, Acrylic on canvas, 289,5 x 86.4cm

At the back of an excellent illustrated catalogue is a timeline of key events and innovations 1981-2015.  On page 21 Michael Craig Martin reflects with Marco Livingstone 

' those days, you held a telephone in your hand by the handle, you held it to your head and spoke into the bottom part and listened through the other one. And it was an absolutely perfect visual reading of the three things going on there. Now we have telephones which are minute, we have a screen on them and they have little buttons. The only thing that isn't indicated at all is where do you speak, and where do you listen? They are completely removed.  The two things that it's actually for it doesn't show you. And the phone looks like a calculator. The calculator looks like a personal organiser. The personal organiser looks like a computer. The computer looks like a TV. The TV looks like the video. The video looks like a DVD...

FOOTNOTE:Transience and Obsolescence. For some years galleries have sent me images I requested as jpg files, which I downloaded, stored and used with appropriate credits. In the past few months images began to arrive  'zipped' and with a time limit. I know how to download but not store and use. The technology is flourishing - it's the user who is obsolescent.

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