Michael Craig-Martin’s World in Color: The YBA Progenitor Debuts New Prints and Curates RA’s Summer Exhibition
Michael Craig-Martin. © Mike Hoban
Installation view of Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition 2015. © David Parry
In his recently published book, On Being an Artist, Craig-Martin addresses his turn to color: “Ever since I was a student, I have loved color and have been fascinated by its use, but for many years I felt unable to use it in my own work… For my generation of the 1960s, it represented all that we sought to avoid: empty formalism, banal self-expression, the decorative, the arbitrary, the indulgent.” How decisive a change. Somewhat lurid colors saturate the Royal Academy gallery walls in Craig-Martin’s Summer Exhibition, their dazzling effect enhanced by entry via
As well as coordinating this mammoth exhibition (almost 1,200 works are on show) Craig-Martin has found time to produce a new series of works, “Fragments,” debuting this week at Art Basel. The “Fragments” further develop the artist’s ongoing print series “Objects of our Time,” in which he depicts everyday objects in order to reflect on contemporary life. While the subjects of “Objects of our Time” are represented in their entirety, in “Fragments” Craig-Martin zooms in for close-ups, partially obscuring his subjects and denying viewers an easy reading of each image. Drawing primarily on the fields of design and technology, the images in the series, such as Light Bulb (2015) prompt a closer look at the everyday objects we take for granted. Simplified in form and transformed by vibrant hues, his strategy of fragmentation demands more from the viewer, prompting us to reappraise the things that punctuate our lives.
Craig-Martin’s superb grasp of color means that, however garish his choices are, they seem entirely appropriate in a given setting. Reflecting on his ongoing investigation of the properties and potential of color in his book, he writes: “Each color carries within it the capacity to reveal the full range of emotional, descriptive, psychological potential of all the others. For myself, in my own work, that meant trying to push every colour in a room or every color in a painting simultaneously to its highest pitch. Now who’s afraid of red, yellow and blue?”
On Being An Artist by Michael Craig-Martin is published by Art / Books
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