Aug 2, 2012

more on Minimal

I've spent quite a lot of time in this blog doing what I always do, being pre-occupied with what I'm doing right now, but I bought a new scanner a little while back and have had some fun digging up old slides and prints from the very early days. News of the Heide Minimal show had me ferreting about in the photo draw,  finding a few golden oldies and jogging the memory. While letting smoke bombs off, Sydney 1970, Brisbane 1971, Melbourne, McClelland Gallery 1972, I was busy doing things like these domes, my first commission, for Monash University 1969-70, aptly called Two domes.

Like many sculptures in this country, this work eventually wound up at the tip. Damage caused by ride-on lawn mowers had put so many dints in them that they looked pretty bad. They have been replaced by another work that was designed at the same time but so far I've not got round to taking a picture of it. 

To round this little set off, here are a couple of my favourite works from my very first show in 1967, Clive Murray-White's Coloured Balls, above is Fragments of a larger System, 1967, apart from it being what I think of as a thesis work containing the idea I've worked on ever since, it was not for sale, anybody who liked it could go down to the hardware store and get their own. You can get your version too if you like. It did throw up an interesting little side issue, when the National Gallery of Victoria wanted it, they were quite happy to pay for it and got quite distressed that they couldn't buy it from me, a compromise was reached, I would go to the hardware store, buy them 4 pipes and charge them exactly what they cost on the day, everybody was content! I think the issue had something to do with "authenticity".

In today's language the whole show would have been seen as an installation, a term that wasn't used 'til many years later. Whilst we're on the topic of terms, even minimal and conceptual weren't in our vocabularies back then, the smokeworks were usually called examples of "environment art" and for items like the pipes the term "Duchampian" was often used! Above is another work from that show, Ball, 1967. (The dictionary definition of ball) These works bring up a few interesting historical questions, my personal view is that the argument about the rise of this kind of art has not been accurately recorded in this country, could even say it may have been stridently highjacked by a few over enthusiastic Sydneysiders. Researchers into the history of Australian art would do well to look very carefully at 2 Melbourne galleries from the 60's, The Argus and Pinocotheca.

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