Richard Saltoun Gallery presents a season of four one-month exhibitions devoted to Conceptual Art made in Britain during the 60s and 70s.
The third exhibition focuses on Tony Morgan (b. 1938 Leicestershire – d. 2004 Geneva) and John Blake (b. 1945). These two innovative and experimental filmmakers are also known for their early photo-conceptual works, which are spotlighted in this show.
Tony Morgan left London at the age of 22 to embark on a month-long walk to Rome, an epic walk which he later referred to as his “first performance” and cites as the nexus for his later performances and ‘exercises’. The most famous of these, The Book of Exercises, 1971, will be exhibited for the first time in its entirety: encompassing 49 pages of typewritten text and 21 black and white photographs. Bringing together photography and text, the “book” attempts a taxonomy of activities according to their usefulness to the community: washing, transportation, housework, harvesting, versus private wealth, censorship, and the abuse of legal power.
John Blake, like Morgan, used the landscape and his movement within it to explore ‘site’: the camera became integral to documenting these explorations. Untitled (M Panorama) 1968/69, a pair of photographic panoramas takes as its subject the Vale of the White Horse in Uffington, Oxfordshire, which changes size and shape as Blake changes his own vantage point on the site. Blake begins to more literally change physical shape with the 11-part work Skin II (1969/70), where we see his folds of flesh being pinched and pulled in large-format photos that exaggerate his proportions. Exhibited at the Victoria & Albert Museum (1971) and the São Paulo Biennale (1971), this is the first time since 1971 that it has been exhibited in the UK.
Typically brought together because of their prodigious use of film in their practice, the relationship between Morgan and Blake extends further than this. Richard Saltoun has selected works which demonstrate lesser-known aspects of their oeuvres, re-establishing both Morgan and Blake’s importance as conceptual artists – not just filmmakers.
Tony MORGAN (b. 1938, Leicestershire, UK - 2004, Geneva, Switzerland)
Inspired by Fluxus and his relationships with Daniel Spoerri and Robert Filliou, Morgan’s expansive oeuvre includes a focus on the mediums of video and performance. A peripatetic lifestyle, with stints in Rome, Florence, Paris, London, and Dusseldorf, culminated in a trip to New York in 1972 with Rebecca Horn, which led to the birth of his part-woman alter ego, ‘Herman Fame’. Morgan’s practice from then on concentrated on gender identity, with Herman making appearances in his work and performances and taking a more key role.
Recent exhibitions include: Film Screening: Conceptual Art in Britain 1964–1979, Tate Britain, London (2016), Parade Sauvage: Counter-culture around the 60s, Beaux-Arts Mons, Mons (2015), Transformer: Aspects of Travesty, Richard Saltoun Gallery, London (2013-2014), Tony Morgan, The Birth of Herman, MAMCO, Geneva (2002) and Tony Morgan: Some Films, Thomas Dane Gallery, London (2011).
John BLAKE (b. 1945, Providence, Rhode Island, USA)
John Blake studied painting at Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh, and at Yale University (Norfolk Program), receiving his BFA in 1967. He then continued his MA studies in London at the Royal College of Art in 1969. Since that time he has remained living and working primarily in Europe, first based in London, then - since the mid-80s - in the Netherlands. Blake’s practice consists primarily of mixed-media work and encompasses site-specific installations, photo-constructions, drawing and sculpture, slide-projections and films.
His work has been represented in various group shows internationally, and solo exhibitions and projects have included, among others: Victoria & Albert Museum, London, 1972; Museum of Modern Art, Oxford, 1973; PS1 (Institute for Art & Urban Resources) NYC, 1977; ICA, London, 1980; Matt's Gallery, London, 1980/1988; de Vleeshal, Middelburg NL, 1983; de Appel, Amsterdam NL, 1986; Zamek Ujazdowski, Warsaw PL, 1993; Kunstbunker Tumulka, Munich D, 1996 among others.
‘Some Dimensions of my Lunch’ Exhibition Programme
Some Dimensions of My Lunch: Conceptual Art in Britain (1956 – 1979) at Richard Saltoun Gallery will feature important work by many of the famous protagonists of the period: Roelof LOUW, Marie YATES, John LATHAM, Tony MORGAN, John BLAKE, Ed HERRING, Roger PALMER.
Part 1: Roelof LOUW
19 May - 17 June
Part 2: Focus on Marie YATES
24 June – 22 July
Part 3: Focus on Tony MORGAN / John BLAKE
29 July – 26 August
Part 4: Focus on Ed HERRING / Roger PALMER
1 September – 30 September
This four-part exhibition, co-curated by Joy Sleeman and Richard Saltoun, has taken over three years to organise. Much of the work is either being shown for the first time or not seen since it was first exhibited.
Joy Sleeman, co-curator
A Reader in Art History and Theory at UCL Slade School of Fine Art, her internationally recognised research is focused on the histories of sculpture and landscape, especially 1960s land art. In 2013-14 she co-curated the most comprehensive exhibition of British land art to date, Uncommon Ground: Land Art in Britain 1966-1979. Current projects include a book on the sculpture of Roelof Louw (Ridinghouse) and advisor to an exhibition on David Lamelas in Long Beach, California, USA.