Technique and condition

The following entry is based on an interview with the artist, Michael Craig-Martin, held on 15th May, 2003, as well as the conservation records held in Sculpture Conservation.

Half-Box (green) consists of two box-like forms placed one above the other and hinged on the longest side. Stacked, they appear as one box, with an isosceles triangle as its area. A cut out handle near the apex of the top surface invites the viewer to pull the upper box up and lower it down in front of the lower box so the sculpture is transformed into another box shape with a diamond shaped area and a sloping top. Similar to 4 Identical Boxes with Lids Reversed (T01153), for Craig-Martin, the original idea was that people were supposed to open and close it. “It was meant to get around the idea of the sculpture being so precious that you weren’t allowed to touch. My thought was to make a sculpture that in order to see it; you had to touch it” (artist interview, May 2003).

The sculpture is made from blockboard. It was cut using a jig-saw and then painted with a very glossy pale green polyurethane paint. In the 2003 interview in Sculpture Conservation, Craig-Martin noted that he specifically bought yacht paint to make the surfaces as perfect as possible, “which I suppose was a new kind of paint to have at that time”. It was a painstaking process as he had to apply the paint with a brush to each surface, one at a time, as the surfaces had to be flat to avoid drip marks. He also erected a polythene tent to reduce dust settling in the slow drying paint. He then polished the painted surface with very fine abrasive papers to achieve a high-gloss, lacquer-like surface.

On acquisition there was damage to the pointed section, some losses and cracks along joints and the paint was scuffed and marked. It was restored in 2005 after consultation with the artist who was happy for us to fill and retouch the damaged areas.

Half-Box should be displayed open but Craig-Martin would also like to see it occasionally closed as, “it’s hard to tell what it actually does if you don’t see that” (artist interview, May 2003). When the box is open, to avoid damaging the paint surface, the fine bottom point should not touch the ground at all.

Bryony Bery / Melanie Rolfe
November 2003 / May 2005