Art For Other People #14 1984 is a sculpture comprised of curving bands of brass with foam sandwiched in between. The work is held together by exposed chrome rivets and screws. The form of the sculpture is suggestive of a skeletal armature and foregrounds the relationship between interior and exterior. The work is part of an ongoing series entitled Art For Other People, which was begun in 1982 and now consists of over fifty sculptures in a variety of materials, including brass, suede, galvanised steel and marble.
Deacon is acknowledged as a leading figure among the generation of British sculptors whose work first received international acclaim in the early 1980s. Born in 1949 in Bangor, Wales, he made performance-based work while at St Martin’s School of Art in London (1969–72) but gradually became dissatisfied with it and began to condense his ideas into objects exploring the relationship between the literal and the metaphysical. An emphasis on the manufacture of his sculptures derives from his longstanding interest in language and poetry; by emphasising the built quality of his sculptures, Deacon points to their own syntactical nature. His constructions are often of an unexpected scale, ranging from the domestic to the monumental, and he has consistently examined the ‘continuity between the world and materials’ (quoted in Tromp 1999, accessed June 2006). Throughout his career, Deacon has worked with a diverse range of materials, including laminated wood, polycarbonate, leather cloth, stainless steel and, most recently, clay.
Most of Deacon’s small-scale work forms part of the Art For Other People series. Many of these objects were completed between larger projects and seem to constitute a distinct body of work. However, the artist has often chosen to install them in exhibitions alongside prints and drawings, as well as medium-sized and large-scale sculptural works. Interviewed in 1999, Deacon maintained that these works are ‘intended to be non-contextually determined, so that you could take them anywhere [and] they could function anywhere’ (quoted in Tromp 1999, accessed June 2006). Though varied in character, these sculptures are united by their scale, their impromptu appearance and similarity of finish.
The Art For Other People series is also represented in Tate’s collection by Art For Other People #6 1983 (Tate T13212), Art For Other People #12 1984 (Tate T13211) and Art For Other People #24 1987 (Tate T12238).
Ian Tromp, ‘Undetermined Pleasure and Unnecessary Beauty: An Interview with Richard Deacon’, Sculpture, vol.18, no.9, November 1999, http://www.sculpture.org/documents/scmag99/nov99/deacon/deacon.shtml, accessed June 2006.
Clarrie Wallis, Richard Deacon, exhibition catalogue, Tate Britain, London 2014.
Richard Deacon: On the Other Side, exhibition catalogue, Kunstmuseum Winterthur, Düsseldorf 2015.