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 and Paintings Conservation.

The work is a single unit, comprising a stretched canvas and metal rod. The painted image on the canvas extends over the canvas and carries on beyond it in the form of square section steel rods, the same thickness as the painted lines. Holes have been drilled into the canvas and stretcher to allow the rod to be inset. The work has a custom made wall bracket 410x 380mm which is 175mm deep. It is screwed on the wall and a split batten holds the diagonal stretcher at the back of the canvas.

The artist made an actual size drawing with tape on paper and gave it to an assistant who bent the metal in a vice so as to match the tape lines, ‘I would draw in the line that was the exact size of the line he was using’ (artist interview 15/05/03). Sections of the steel rod were cut, brazed together and painted black. The canvas is cotton duck and was primed with an acrylic gesso. The panel was painted black and tape was used to create the outline of the image. The tape was sealed and green and red paint was then applied over the whole panel. The tape was then removed to reveal the black paint lines underneath. ‘Whatever colour the line is, the whole of that area has been coloured, not just the line” (artist interview 15/05/03).


The title and date of the art work and the artist’s signature are on the top edge of the back of the canvas.

The metal appears in fairly good structural condition but two sections have become detached from the right side of the stretcher, possibly due to wood shrinkage in the stretcher. The white powdery accretion is acidic and has caused the paint to become detached and to flake off in many areas, also revealing the grey undercoat used. In several other areas, the metal is bare. The canvas and support are in good condition but both are slightly dirty. In 2002, the white accretion was brushed off and loose parts were re-adhered.

Bryony Bery
August 2003