Publication and Exhibition – Late Medieval Panel Paintings II: Materials, Methods, Meanings, Edited by Susie Nash

Late Medieval Panel Paintings II

In January of this year I had the privilege to work with three astounding Art Historians, Nicholas Herman, Anna Koopstra, and Nicola Jennings, on a publication entitled Late Medieval Panel Paintings II: Materials, Methods, Meanings. The book is edited by Professor Susie Nash and published by Paul Holberton, to accompany an exhibition mounted by Sam Fogg and held at the gallery of Richard L. Feigen, New York, from 22nd January to 22nd February 2016.


The book, the second volume in a series on the subject, presents a series of in-depth studies of late medieval panel paintings, as well as one tapestry, made between 1400 and 1530 in Spain, Germany, Austria, France, and the Southern Netherlands. Many of the objects examined are new to scholarly attention, offering steps forward in the discussion and analysis of medieval works of art, and significant insights into the artists and patrons of the period.

Late Medieval Panel Paintings II: Materials, Methods, Meanings

ed. Susie Nash, 2016

300 x 245 mm; paperback

352 pages

ISBN 978-1-907372-91-9

The publication is available through the Paul Holberton website, as well as at the gallery and website of Sam Fogg, and on amazon:






Palmyra is a visualisation of broader and total conflict

Religion is a fundamental shaper of the cultural, social, political, and written and spoken language of a people, and like the distinctions and variances between language itself, religion charts boundaries and confluences at the junctions between societies. To destroy the language of religion, and the art it has created, is to destroy the very history and identity of those who have created us.

It is with the totality of arrogance and the contradictions of denial that over the course of the last year so-called Islamic State made sweeping movements that helped to erase the reasons and desire for us to exist on this planet, but it remains one of the saddest truths that they are not the only group to have done so through the history of accidents that makes up what may be termed ‘human time’. In a recent article in Art Monthly (AM 394) concerned with the naming and nature of this temporal occupation, and the emergence of an ‘anthropocene era’, Jamie Sutcliffe brought into vivid focus the micro-engagement of biological systems, of which the human being cannot be considered an insular, hermetically sealed entity but rather a construct of mutually interdependent ‘species-assemblages’; a collection of billions of cells, organisms, and bacteria without the static form we commonly interpret our bodies as having. We are as much accidents of survival as the visual and non-visual cultures we have spawned – a matter made painfully tenuous with every new moment of destruction. Indeed, destruction appears to me at least to have had as much energy, significance, and substantiality as our concurrent attempts at creation. And what an indefinably beautiful idea creation has proven to be, both biologically and societally. This is what we must protect above all, I believe, but the issue remains thorny, for creation is on the whole inextricably linked to a greater or lesser degree with some form of destruction.

Open Secret – Anthony Caro (1924-2013)

Below is a catalogue entry concerning Anthony Caro’s book edition Open Secret, written for the upcoming publication of an important private UK collection.


Anthony Caro (1924-2013)

Open Secret


Edition of 31 sculptures in four materials: three in stainless steel, three in grey cardboard, 10 in bronze and 15 in brass, plus one artist’s proof of each; accompanied by hand-written poems in German and English by Hans Magnus Enzensberger, and a passage transcribed by Caro from Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice.

Published by Ivory Press, London, UK

27 x 61 x 80 cm approx. (with variations between editions)


The Open Secret series was first exhibited as part of Blood on Paper, an exhibition of artists’ books held at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, UK, between 15/04/2008 and 29/06/2008. It has since been featured at the Whitechapel Gallery, London (25-27/09/2009) and the Lightbox Gallery and Museum, Woking (20/01/2009-21/04/2009), and will travel to Madrid in February 2015 as part of Books beyond Artists: Words and Images, hosted by Ivory Press. Each edition takes the form of a hinged metal case opening to reveal a collaborative portfolio by Caro and the German author and poet Hans Magnus Enzensberger, incorporating text and images.

Anthony Caro was one of the first artists to challenge the orthodoxy of post-war British sculpture. In what Adrian Stokes saw as the superseding of the traditionally predominant sculpting material – stone – Caro embraced the pourable, plastic, and moulded qualities of unrefined metals to redefine the language of sculpted forms. From roots in the iron foundry, he moved through a spectrum of media, incorporating clay, card and paper, brass, bronze and occasionally pigments into his work, forging particularised structural relationships out of planes, corners, curves and tubes in each case.

The Open Secret series provides something of a bridge between two related but divergent veins in Caro’s practice, combining the sense of monumentality and mass of material inherent to his increasingly large-scale installations from around 1974 onwards, and the intimacy and delicacy of poise that characterise the artist’s extensive body of table pieces. The result is a finely tuned spatial balance that incorporates both floating and solid elements in counterpoint, establishing a tactile table-top sculpture whose form is in a state of flux (these ‘books’ are literally made to be touched and opened), with a structure rooted in the solidity of its four-square geometric footprint. This middle ground is shared by certain larger works – Tundra (1975), or Jupiter (2005) for instance – along with many of his ceramic pieces, particularly examples in the Can Co series he created in the mid-seventies, but they are drawn here into a unique and charged state of formal dynamism. This touches on Michael Fried’s famous assertion that Caro’s sculpture always appears to be at the point of disintegration, that is, that through the movement of the viewer literal visual references can be conjured and crushed in consecutive moments.[i] As a result, the attendant connotations are both abstract and vivid; the open, fluid form of these ‘cases’ suggests the opening out of language itself, and the dynamic rather than static qualities of its rippling ‘leaves’ evoke both the turn of phrase and word inherent to the poetic format, and the literal turning of the pages within – an act of almost infinite and lyrical potential fundamental to our delight of the written word. In this respect, the variants of Open Secret are abstracted somewhat from the reality of comprehendible forms, so that they are not based solely on visible references in the outside world but operate, as Ian Barker notes, as ‘vehicles with expressions of feeling’ that touch on literary themes.[ii]

The artist’s choice of materials for Open Secret offers new and fruitful avenues for the interpretation of his wider oeuvre, and draws on tonal, textural, and visual subtleties that diverge from those more commonly associated with his practice. His interest in the materiality of metal in its supposedly pure form (the use of paint to disguise the true nature of metal was almost entirely abandoned early on in his career) seems key here. Each of the edition’s variants acts as an almost elemental substance (especially when seen collectively), with an identity and meaning related to but distinct from their counterparts. None of the selected metals, however, can finally be understood as being pure in an elemental sense– since they are all admixtures of other substances, and quite deliberately chosen as such. Like language, each embodies the consummation of a process of careful measuring and manipulation by experience, craft and the human mind.

Matthew Reeves


[i] Michael Fried, ‘Two Sculptures by Anthony Caro’, in Artforum, vol. 6, no. 6, Feb. 1968, pp.24-25

[ii] Ian Barker, Anthony Caro; Quest for the New Sculpture, London, 2004, p. 95

Malgorzata Bany and studio vit | Etage Projects, Copenhagen, 20 February – 24 April 2015

Etage Projects, Copenhagen

Most objects made by design have at their core an innate repeatability — this often depends on symmetry — regular, even shapes that can be extruded from a flat material or formed in a mould. The handmade, i.e. the irregular, is removed, diminished, or essentialised. Here, colour too is often subdued or graduated.

This joint installation draws from themes common to the field of design. Both collaborators utilise shapes ratified by a sense of ideal proportion, shapes that, like the perfect wholeness of a net diagram, can be equally manifested in two or three dimensions. Both restrict their use of colour to a careful minimum, often relying on the effect of that cast by light from a remote source, leaving mirrored hues, streaked highlights, and colours in shadow. Both reflect on the emotive content of the unquantifiable in the making of an object — inconsistencies of tone, the presence, movement, and shape-making properties of light, a given material’s catchlights and reflective potential.

It has been said of Gothic architecture that it is an architecture of emotion — that the science of geometry is second to an invocation of a spiritual essence within an imagined celestial interior. That geometry can hang in suspension within a diffused architecture, a space of emergent boundaries and dissolvable shadows, is a point of focus for both Bany and studio vit. Bany in particular, embraces fields of shape and space that share a close connection to Gothic buildings and their attendant environments of objects – altarpieces, quatrefoils, screens, lancet windows. Repeated circles with stucco pigments are arranged in a close tension, nestled and symmetrical, or running in parallel with extended bases and hard right-angle corners suggestive of digitized limestone. Often, her titles play on architectural terminology particular to medieval sites; an apse becomes a semi-circular space seen from directly overhead. This is paired with an equally pronounced interest in the role of the domestic arts, and her fan-like supports and calligraphic brushstrokes also draw strongly on the aesthetics of Japanese interior design. Pulling at such diverse conceptual strands, her collections of shapes evoke a purified language of abstract symbols.

Malgorzata bany

Studio vit take an approach to the geometry of shape and mass that pertains to classical Euclidean theory, the cone, cube, cylinder and sphere dominant juxtapositions in their output. Nevertheless, the aesthetic delicacy and balance of their products draws on the emotive properties of harmonious or imbalanced forms that break the strict ratios of classical proportion. When seen together, their Cone lights become a series of moveable combinations, each of the two forms they comprise interacting with its partner in a singular and divergent counterpoint. As with Bany’s painted surfaces, these combination objects rely on the defining properties of light. They are dense, silky, or rigid triangulations in daylight, emitters of spectral and explosive radiance when alight.

studio vit

With all these works, context is acutely variant. As proportion, light, and formal and spatial relationships are key elements of their production, so too are they defining of the works’ reception within a given space. As with objects of design, they deepen our relationship with a surrounding environment, but as works of a unique nature, they offer and develop repeated forms in un-repetitious and unrepeatable arrangements.

Publication – Ron Haselden | Papillon de la nuit – domobaal editions 2014

This summer sees the publication of On the construction of Papillon de la nuit, a collection of my notes and related photographs and stills concerning the creation and reception of Papillon de la nuit, a monumental sculptural installation in the Brittany countryside by Ron Haselden, one of Britain’s foremost site-specific sculptors. Limited to a run of 200 copies, the publication is available via the DOMOBAAL website.

book display

28 pages, 16 colour photographs, one of which is included as a full-bleed scored and folded A4 loose insert.

domobaal editions – 2014

ISBN 978 1 905957 53 8

Wonders of the Medieval World | Richard L. Feigen and Co., 34 East 69th Street, New York | 29 January – 17 March


Richard L. Feigen and Co., one of New York’s most influential, longest running, and prestigious commercial galleries, representing the likes of James Rosenquist and the estates of Joseph Cornell and Ray Johnson (for which no end of blogs could be penned), has collaborated with Sam Fogg, London’s leading gallery for Medieval Sculpture, Manuscripts, and Works of Art, on an exhibition of twenty two unique, remarkable, and important objects from the Medieval period. Do, if you are New York bound this Spring, visit the gallery, which is open 10am – 6pm Monday to Friday.

TREASURE – featured in Art In Print Jan/Feb 2014

Do pick up a copy of the January – February 2014 edition of Art in Print, which includes Adam Bridgland’s 2013 portfolio TREASURE in its Selected New Editions section.

Adam and I worked on this portfolio, which reuses and reworks reclaimed photographs and postcard imagery from across the twentieth century, for the artist’s solo exhibition at the Idea Store, Whitechapel, last summer, and it was soon after acquired by the department of Prints and Drawings at the British Museum, London.