Clive Barker: Objects for Contemplation

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CLIVE BARKER

WHITFORD F I N E A R T 6 DUKE STREET ST. JAMES’S LO N D O N S W 1 Y 6 B N TEL.+44(0)20 7930 9332 FAX.+44(0)20 7930 5577 info@whitfordfinear t.com w w w. w h i t f o r d f i n e a r t . c o m



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CLIVE BARKER Objects for Contemplation

9 October – 1 November 2013

All Works are for Sale

WHITFORD F I N E A R T

6 DUKE STREET ST. JAMES’S LONDON SW1Y 6BN TEL. +44 (0)20 7930 9332 EMAIL info@whitfordfineart.com www.whitfordfineart.com


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Objects for Contemplation

For over half a century now, Clive Barker has cast or fabricated sculptures in bronze and other metals largely from found objects and finished them impeccably in a variety of surfaces, sometimes polished or plated in gold or silver so that they gleam like luxury commodities, sometimes painted or given a more traditionally artistic patina. Dispensing with the conventional tools of the sculptor and considering even a studio to be superfluous, he has instead concentrated his attention on choosing the objects that he takes to the foundry for casting – often with minimal apparent alteration – and on presiding over the process with absolute attention to detail but with scant need for his personal manual intervention. The conceptual rigour of his procedure, based on his observations as a very young man of the assembly-line methods employed in a car factory at which he was working, has paradoxically gone hand-in-hand with an intense subjectivity in his selection and an insistence on the sensuous physicality of the objects that are the endproduct of a step-by-step process born of a kind of daydream. Given the wide-ranging nature of his imagery, it is impressive to witness how this hands-off approach results repeatedly in sculptures that not only look confident and inevitable but that consistently bear the stamp of his artistic vision. Where one of his American Pop colleagues, Claes Oldenburg, reinvented sculpture in the early 1960s by taking ‘hard’ manufactured objects from the contemporary environment and rendering them as ‘soft’ forms sewn from canvas, Barker has often turned forms that are pliable or tender to the touch – as in the case of new works replicating boxing gloves or bunches of asparagus – into inflexible metal objects that convey an indisputable sense of their permanence. In works of the past several years displayed here, Barker addresses fragility (an origami boat), transience (fresh seasonal produce with a short shelf-life), built-in obsolescence (objects, such as a leather bag, showing signs of wear) and even death (butchered pigs’ heads), while rendering them all virtually indestructible and thus immortal. The result is doubleedged, since in presenting to our attention artefacts that we understand will long outlive us, each also acts as a memento mori, a reminder of the inevitability of our limited time on earth. That the precariousness of life should be a pressing subject for an artist now in his early seventies is not surprising, however optimistic the tone of Barker’s art in general. In Canary and Lamp Barker recalls the now discontinued practice of taking such birds into the mines as a way of warning the workers of the presence of carbon monoxide and other noxious gases. Trained as a painter, Barker has long made allusion to the materials and practice of art and to favourite artists and works from art history. These have taken the form of direct quotations, of glancing references and of images conforming to generic motifs: so there have been homages to Magritte, Van Gogh and Soutine, and to friends and contemporaries including Bacon and Hockney; revisions of the Venus de Milo; objects in the form of painting boxes and palettes, and sculptures shaped as schematized musical instruments that summon echoes of Cubism. All these approaches remain in evidence in the new works, enabling Barker to range widely in imagery while remaining consistent in his celebration of the emotive associative powers of art. A gleaming, gold-plated easel converts a necessary accoutrement of a traditional painter’s studio into a contraption that no longer has a practical function but that is now, particularly identified as Lucian Freud’s Easel, an object of veneration. The two sculptures of asparagus take their place within the history of still-life painting stretching back at least as far as Chardin, but with particular reference to an exquisite little canvas of 1880 by Manet in the Wallraf-Richartz Museum. Crown


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of Thorns, a rare excursion into Christian imagery, reconfigures one of the most distressing episodes, that of the Mocking of Christ, as a highly desirable piece of luxurious jewellery in a purpose-made velvet-clad case, pointedly focussing the viewer’s thoughts on the fetishizing of pain and martyrdom in the Catholic tradition of relics of the saints. On a much lighter note, The Mad Hatter’s Hat takes us into the world of Lewis Carroll’s Alice adventures and particularly back to the celebrated illustrations of John Tenniel and more recently to those of Barker’s friend Peter Blake. Perhaps the most sober of the new works, Napoleon’s Hat at Waterloo, conjures the personality and missing face and body of the celebrated historical figure for whom it acts as surrogate. Like the bowler belonging to the mad hatter or the boxing gloves presented in isolation, but still seemingly inhabited by powerful male hands, this solitary painted bronze reminds us powerfully of an implicit human presence and of the particular human mind in which all these works originated. The illusionism at work here is taken one step further in Overnight Bag, a tour-de-force of trompe’l-oeil techniques in the meticulous casting of a leather bag, complete with brass-hued metal fastenings and a textured surface made all the more convincing by the application of a black patina. Unlike the original case from which it was cloned, this bag will never open and will not be able to carry any possessions. As a work of art, it no longer has a practical function. It does, however, conceptually remain a powerful container, a literally and metaphorically weighty receptacle for thought, emotion and reflection. Like so many of Barker’s sculptures, it presents itself in the guise of an ordinary thing that we might not even notice, but that once spotted becomes the intense focus of one’s attention. It is transformed into an object of contemplation that slowly yields its mysterious secrets in direct proportion to one’s own readiness to be seduced, mesmerized and carried to another world, the world of the imagination. Marco Livingstone, 2013


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1.

Crown of Thorns 2010 Polished bronze and mixed media Crown 26.7 cm; 10 ½ in diameter Box 7.5 x 30.5 x 31.7 cm; 3 x 12 in x 12 ½ in Unique


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2.

A Bunch of Asparagus 2010 Polished bronze 25 x 15 x 15 cm 9 7/8 x 5 7/8 x 5 7/8 in Signed, dated and titled Unique


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3.

Boxing Gloves 2013 Polished bronze 16 x 23 x 30.5 cm 6 Âź x 9 x 12 in Signed, dated, titled and numbered Edition of 2 1 A/P


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4.

Canary and Lamp 2013 Mixed media and polished bronze 40.6 cm high 16 in high Signed, dated and titled Unique


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5.

The Mad Hatter's Hat 2009 Bronze with black patina and polished bronze 14.6 x 23.3 x 29.2 cm 5 ž x 9 1/8 x 11 ½ in high Signed, dated, titled and numbered Edition of 6 1 A/P


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6.

Two Heads 2012 Polished bronze 28.3 x 44 x 33 cm 11 Âź x 17 Âź x 13 in Signed, dated and titled Unique


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7.

Overnight Bag 2010 Bronze with black patina and polished bronze 41 x 21 x 30 cm 16 1/8 x 8 Ÿ x 11 ž in Signed, dated and titled Unique


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8.

Lucian Freud’s Easel 2013 Polished bronze 202.5 cm high 79 ž in high Signed, dated and titled Unique


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9.

Origami Boat 2010 Polished bronze 13 x 36.3 x 15.2 cm 5 1/8 x 14 Âź x 6 in Signed, dated and titled Unique


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10.

Asparagus 2010 Polished bronze and red lucite 11.5 x 46 x 46 cm 4 ½ x 18 1/8 x 18 1/8 in Signed, dated and titled Unique


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11.

Boxing Gloves 2 2013 Polished bronze 60 cm long 23 5/8 in long Signed, dated, titled and numbered Edition of 2 1 A/P


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12.

Napoleon’s Hat at Waterloo 2010 Bronze with black patina, enamelled and polished bronze 20 x 49.5 x 28 cm 7 7/8 x 19 ½ x 11 in Signed, dated, titled and numbered Edition of 3


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13.

Nipper 2013 Polished bronze 34.9 cm high 13 3/4 in high Signed, dated, titled and numbered Edition of 2 1 A/P


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Biography and Exhibitions

1940

1957-59 Trained as a painter at Luton College of Technology and Art. Developed a particular interest in the painting of Cézanne, Picasso, Soutine and Van Gogh, which would later be expressed in his sculpture. An unsympathetic sculpture teacher discouraged his interest in the subject. 1960-61 Worked on the assembly line at Vauxhall Motors, Luton, for a period of fifteen months. Working with chrome plated and leather upholstered car parts would later prove to be a formative experience. Imagined making art as consumer goods, the product of co-ordinated cooperation between specialist craftsmen. 1961

1962

Barker, Peter Blake, Richard Hamilton, Jann Howarth and Colin Self’, Robert Fraser Gallery, London, and in ‘British Artists: 6 Painters, 6 Sculptors’, an exhibition circulated by the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Born in Luton.

Moved to London. Started concentrating on making objects. Using corrugated cardboard, fabricated a series of five targets, realising his own versions of this Pop Art icon. First use of neon. First use of the zip image in Three Zips, silkscreen on canvas. Included in ‘Young Contemporaries’, RBA Galleries, London.

1963

First leather-upholstered objects and first Pop works.

1964

First casts in bronze and aluminium. Two Palettes for Jim Dine, a homage to the American whose paintings Barker had seen at the Robert Fraser Gallery, marked the beginning of the use of chrome plating. Included in ‘118 Show’, Kasmin Gallery, London.

1965

Tutor at Maidstone School of Art.

1966

First visit to New York. Cast Coke with Teat, a first in a series of Coke bottles. Included in ‘New Idioms’, Robert Fraser Gallery, London.

1967

Included ‘Tribute to Robert Fraser’, Robert Fraser Gallery, and in ‘Englische Kunst’, Galerie Bruno Bischofberger, Zurich.

1968

One-man show at the Robert Fraser Gallery. Included in ‘Works from 1956 to 1967 by Clive

1969

One-man show at the Hanover Gallery. Included in ‘Pop Art’, Hayward Gallery, London, and in ‘Young and Fantastic’, ICA, London. Cast the life mask of his friend Francis Bacon

1970

The Tate Gallery, London, purchased Splash (1967). Included in ‘British Sculpture out of the Sixties’, ICA, London,

1971

First references to Classical Greek sculpture. Second visit to New York. First show at Baukunst Galerie, Cologne.

1973-74 War Heads, series of six gas masks and skulls. 1973

Included in a group shows at Baukunst-Galerie, Cologne.

1974

One-man show at Anthony d’Offay, London.

1976

Mannheim Kunsthalle purchased Portrait of Madame Magritte (1970-73).

1977

Included in ‘British Artists of the 60’s’, Tate Gallery, London.

1978

Made a series of twelve bronze and brass studies of Francis Bacon. ‘One-man show’ at Felicity Samuel Gallery, London. The Arts Council purchased Study of Francis Bacon, No.1 (1978).The Aberdeen Art Gallery purchased Study of Francis Bacon, No.6 (1978).

1980

The Imperial War Museum, London purchased German Head ‘42 (1974).

1981

Made a group of portrait heads of friends, including Eduardo Paolozzi and Marianne Faithfull. Included in ‘British Sculpture in the 20th Century’, Whitechapel Art Gallery, London.

1981-82 Retrospective exhibition at Sheffield City Art Galleries, touring Stoke, Eastbourne and Cheltenham. Graves Art Gallery, Sheffield, purchased Helmet (1973).


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Mappin Art Gallery, Sheffield purchased Way Out (Brown Exit) (1963-64). The Imperial War Museum acquired the War Heads (1973-74) series. 1983

One-Man show of War Heads at Imperial War Museum, London. Included in ‘BlackWhite’ at Robert Fraser Gallery, London.

1984

Included in ‘British Pop Art’ at Robert Fraser Gallery, London.

1985

Exhibition of Boxes, a series of thirty-five sculptural scenes placed in wooden boxes (executed 1972 -85) at Wolverhampton Art Gallery.

1986

The Contemporary Art Society purchased Study of Francis Bacon, No.7 (1978), for Ferens Art Gallery, Hull. Included in ‘Forty Years of Modern Art 19451985’, Tate Gallery, London.

1987

One-man show of Barker’s portrait drawings (executed 1983-87) and sculptures, at the National Portrait Gallery, London. Included in ‘Pop Art U.S.A.-U.K.: American and British Artists of the ‘60s in the ‘80s’, Odakyu Grand Gallery, Tokyo, touring Osaka, Funabashi and Yokohama.

1988

The National Portrait Gallery, London, acquires the gold leaf version of Life Mask of Francis Bacon (1969).

1990

Returned to Classical Greek subject matter.

1991

Included in ‘Pop Art’, Royal Academy of Arts, London, Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid and Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal.

1992

Commenced a group of still-lifes presented on cast iron tables. With Gold Coke returned to the theme of the Coke bottle.

1993

The City of Luton commissioned Elephant for Luton. Included in ‘The Sixties Art Scene in London’, Barbican Art Gallery, London.

1995

Returned to the subject matter of Cubism with two Cubist still-lifes.

Included in ‘Post-War to Pop’, Whitford Fine Art, London. 1996

The Berardo Foundation acquired Homage to Soutine (1969) for the Sintra Museum of Modern Art, Lisbon.

1997

Included in ‘Pop Art’, Norwich Castle Museum, in ‘Les Sixties: Great Britain and France 1962-1973, The Utopian Years’, Brighton Museum and Art Gallery, and in ‘The Pop ‘60s: Transatlantic Crossing’, Centro Cultural de Belem, Lisbon.

1998

Further reference to classical sculpture is found in Helmets; a new series of still-lifes incorporates fruit, shells and breads. Box Camera and Flash anticipated a group of eight camera sculptures executed in 1999. Space Pilot X-Ray Gun, Dalek, Darth Vader and Light Sabre highlight Barker’s love of the science fiction series ‘Dr Who’ and ‘Star Wars’. Included in ‘Modern British Art’ at Tate Gallery, Liverpool.

2000

With The Last Coke Bottle, Barker drew a line under this seminal subject of his visual vocabulary. One-man show at Whitford Fine Art, London.

2001

Commenced Alphabet and a new series of still-lifes. Showed in ‘Pop Art: U.S./U.K. Connections 19561966’, The Menil Collection, Houston (Texas). The Berardo Foundation acquired Fridge (1999) for the Sintra Museum of Modern Art, Lisbon.

2003

One-man show at Whitford Fine Art, London to coincide with the publication of a catalogue raisonné.

2004

One-man show at Arte e Arte, Galleria d’Arte Moderna, Bologna. Showed in ‘Pop Art UK: British Pop Art 1956-1972’, the Galleria Civica and the Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Modena, and in Art & the 60’s. This was Tomorrow, Tate Britain, London.

2005

Showed in ‘British Pop’, Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao, Bilbao.

2006

One-man show at Whitford Fine Art. One-man show at Galerie Markus Winter, Berlin.


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2008

Showed in ‘Post-War to Pop’, Whitford Fine Art., London. Included in ‘Triptyque: Art Contemporain Angers, France. Exhibited at the ‘Summer Exhibition’, Royal Academy of Arts, London.

2008-09 Included in ‘Supermarket Pop: Art & Consumerism’, Wolverhampton Art Gallery.

2010 2011

2013

2008-10 Included in ‘Unpopular Culture Grayson Perry selects from the Arts Council Collection’, touring exhibition, UK. 2009

Present iconography contemplates and investigates the outcome of mass-consumerism of the heyday of Pop. One-man show at Whitford Fine Art, London.

Front cover: Boxing Gloves 2 (cat. no. 11)

All artworks ©Whitford Fine Art Text ©Marco Livingstone Edited by An Jo Fermon Exhibition management by Gabriel Toso Photography of cat 1, 3-4, 6, 8, 11, 13 and cover by Mario Bettella Photography of cat 2, 5, 7, 9-10, 12 by the late Miki Slingsby Produced by Artmedia Press Ltd • London

Showed at ‘Pop Protest: Art for and Anxious Age’, Wolverhampton Art Gallery. The Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide acquired Coke with Two Straws (1968). Shown in ‘Snap, Crackle and Pop’, The Lightbox Gallery, Woking. Included in ‘New Situation: Art in London in the Sixties’, Sotheby’s, London. Included in ‘When Britain Went Pop! British Pop Art: The Early Years’, Waddington-Custot, London.

In recent years, Barker’s work has become contemplative, reflecting on history, transience and death. Clive Barker lives and works in London.



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CLIVE BARKER

WHITFORD F I N E A R T 6 DUKE STREET ST. JAMES’S LO N D O N S W 1 Y 6 B N TEL.+44(0)20 7930 9332 FAX.+44(0)20 7930 5577 info@whitfordfinear t.com w w w. w h i t f o r d f i n e a r t . c o m