Vivid visions of everyday objects by Michael Craig-Martin

Michael Craig-Martin is an Irish contemporary conceptual artist and painter. Throughout the 60’s and 70’s he made conceptual art in various forms, maintaining an elegant restraint and conceptual clarity. He’s known for his very conceptual piece, An Oak Tree, and for fostering the Young British Artists. Today, he is revered for his painted works and line drawings of everyday objects in vivid, unexpected colour palettes. They excite us a lot.

Michael’s path to painting came in a round-about way. He studied it at art school in the 60’s, but stopped to make more sculptural installation works. He started making wall drawings in to 70’s and 80’s, eventually wondering if he could transfer what he was creating on the wall onto canvas. By the time the 90’s swung around, Michael had established an iconic, ever-expanding visual vocabulary of images that continue to provide the foundation to his work.

Michael’s work is instantly recognisable in its boldly outlined motifs and luridly vivid colour palettes. The work appears digital at a first glance but, amazingly, every piece is hand rendered. Using an assemblage, collage-like technique with paint rollers, tape and paper as a stencil, he applies paint in many layers to his walls and canvases. In one painting there can be between 20-30 colours, with five to six coats of paint for each colour. Sometimes it will take 40 coats of paint applied, in order to achieve the maximum flatness desired!

The works exploit the simplest, over-looked everyday objects to create something that is not so simple. Chairs, filing cabinets, ladders, books, light bulbs and tables fill his pieces in clustered, balanced compositions. Applied in intense colours at their highest intensity and purest forms, the effect is arresting and a new beauty is brought to these simple forms.

See more from Michael Craig-Martin on his website.


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