On the cover: ‘Piano and Metronome’ by Michael Craig-Martin
What inspired Piano and Metronome?
I wanted to make a work that played with the most basic conventions of how we read pictures. We assume the musical relationship between the piano and the metronome. We also assume the spatial relationship of the two objects. We know the piano is enormous in comparison to the metronome, yet in my print this size relationship is reversed. We therefore tend to read the metronome in the foreground close to us and the piano far away. However as there is no direct perspectival space in my picture we may be jumping to conclusions. Perhaps it’s just a very small piano.
You seem particularly fascinated by manufactured objects, from metronomes to iphones – what’s the appeal?
The manufactured objects we make more or less define the world we live in, and seem to me to provide an accurate picture of ourselves and our times.
‘Takeaway coffee’, ‘Memory stick’ and ‘Long-life battery’ from ‘Objects of our time’ at the Alan Cristea Gallery
Do you think the fetishisation of products is a particularly modern phenomenon?
It depends on what you mean by modern. The fetishisation of products occurs with mass production, and in terms of human history, that’s comparatively recent. We have come regard these things almost exclusively as products. I have tried to look at them simply as objects.
How do you think future generations will view the objects of our time?
With amusement, curiosity and sometimes disbelief.
What has had the greatest impact on you and your work recently?
Having the sculpture show at Chatsworth this past Spring [Craig-Martin installed 12 large-scale sculptures of commonplace objects in the gardens of the English stately home], the combination of the sculptures in the gardens, the installation in the house, and the selection of Old Master drawings. It involved me in many things that matter to me.
People credit you with changing the art world – do you agree?
Flattering but absurd. Whenever I have been in a position of influence – teacher, curator, trustee – I have always approached things from my point of view as an artist, which I have found is usually different from other people’s. I believe that sometimes I have made a positive impact, but the big changes that have occurred in the art world over the last 25 years, some good, some dreadful, would undoubtedly have happened without me or any other individual.
Michael Craig-Martin and his sculptures at Chatsworth house earlier in 2014
Do you think that the art world has been negatively skewed by the gigantic sums commanded by a handful of artists?
Extreme prices at the top of the art world have impacted on the price of all works of art. Great works have always been highly valued and often highly priced, so this is not new. But today the price of things has become for many people their principal, sometimes only topic of conversation. People seem to have forgotten that the market is just the market. Price is only one, comparatively banal, measure of the value of a work of art.
You’ve described yourself as a radical – can you define that? What are you kicking back against?
It is only possible to be radical in relation to an orthodoxy. It was still possible to think of oneself and one’s work as radical when I was a young artist, but today, as there is no longer an orthodoxy, the term has lost its meaning.
What news story of the quarter particularly grabbed your attention?
I am more or less a news junkie and so was interested in all the news events of the quarter – except perhaps the World Cup! The Scottish Independence referendum brought into question the whole method of governance in the UK and will continue to have great impact on the future of the country and its relation to the world, particularly to the EU.
What’s next for you?
I have a very large painting show opening at the Himalayas Museum in Shanghai in January and a big event coming up in Dallas in April. I have never been busier and have a sense clarity and command with the work I’m doing. About what’s next for me – I’m as curious as anyone.
Michael Craig-Martin is represented by the Alan Cristea Gallery, you can see more of his work at alancristea.com and michaelcraigmartin.co.uk
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