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Tomorrow, And Tomorrow, And Tomorrow (K) is a free-standing, principally bright red ceramic sculpture that sits directly on the floor. This low, curving and seemingly organic object gives the impression that it has been squeezed out from an enormous tube. The work has a visceral quality and its shape – a continuous loop that bends in on itself – suggests intestinal foldings. The smooth, glazed sides and upper curves are shiny and vibrant red speckled with dark red spots. Red fades to orange and then yellow in deep furrows where the form folds.
Tomorrow, And Tomorrow, And Tomorrow (K) is one of a group of works in earthenware clay that the artist starting producing in 1999. Known particularly for his sculptures in a range of vernacular materials including wood and steel, Deacon briefly experimented with clay in 1978–9, when he accompanied his then wife, the ceramicist Jacqueline Poncelet (born 1947), to America. Lacking the facilities to make sculptures
, he made clay pots and the series of drawings It’s Orpheus When There’s Singing, including It’s Orpheus When There’s Singing #7 1978–9 (T04859). His works in ceramics of the late 1990s were prompted by an invitation from curator Julian Heynen to collaborate with the artist Thomas Schütte (born 1954) on a room for the 1999–2000 am horizont exhibition at the Kaiser Wilhelm Museum, Krefeld, Germany. Schütte, with whom Deacon staged a joint exhibition at the Lisson Gallery in London in 1995, suggested they work in clay. Deacon produced five large, floor-standing sculptures for this exhibition. All of these works bear the title Tomorrow, And Tomorrow, And Tomorrow (arranged from A to E). In 2000–1, Deacon made seven further sculptures for the same series, including Tomorrow, And Tomorrow, And Tomorrow (K). He used the specialist studio of Niels Dietrich in Cologne to produce all the works in ceramic. The hand-builder was Anna Zimmerman.
As a bulbous, self contained and low-lying sculpture, suggestive of solidity but hollow, T12266 is reminiscent of Deacon’s earlier work Struck Dumb 1988 (T05558), which, made in welded steel, required entirely different techniques. The artist has explained of his sculptures in clay: ‘All of them basically begin with a small lump which is pushed, pulled, squeezed, twisted, rolled, poked, carved etc. ... The resulting sculptures are very much unitary objects, although not lumps, and I find the question of their identity compelling. The contrast between this unity and the very open structure that recent wooden pieces have had has been particularly important.’ (Quoted in Wallis, p.74.)
The works in the Tomorrow, And Tomorrow, And Tomorrow series are each distinctive. Their colours include bright blue, brown, orange and white with speckles. Tomorrow, And Tomorrow, And Tomorrow (h) 2000, closely resembles T12266, but is olive green. The other forms vary but all the sculptures are free-standing and involve curving and coiling shapes. Deacon drew a plan and cross section for T12266 to determine its proposed floor shape and its upper curve. Small clay studies for it take the form of continuous loops that appear squashed in comparison with the finished work and suggest hand-like shapes (reproduced in Richard Deacon. The Size of It, exhibition catalogue, Arabako ARTIUM de Álava, Vitoria-Gasteiz 2005, nos.14–5 p.90).
Deacon’s ceramic works are generally highly finished. The upper curves of T12266 have a high fired glaze, while the yellow areas in the folds of the form have a more textured and pitted finish. The artist’s choice and application of glazes was made to create the sense of a glowing object in which the colour appears to emanate from within. Its vibrant and sensual deep red to orange surface allows the object to assert its presence while reflecting and drawing in its surroundings. Deacon has commented: ‘One of the ways I intend you to experience my work is as if you are in front of another person and in terms of a relationship to particular bodily sensations’ (quoted in Thompson, Tazzi, Schjeldahl and Curtis, p.27).
The title, Tomorrow, And Tomorrow, And Tomorrow, is drawn from the opening line of a speech from the tragedy Macbeth by William Shakespeare (1564–1616), made when Macbeth hears of his wife’s death and laments on the pointlessness of life. Language plays an important part in Deacon’s work, but his titles are not intended to describe or explain his sculptures, rather to have resonance in conjunction with them. The phrase ‘Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow’ suggests the passage of time, and is thought to allude ‘to the artist’s anguish of how the work of art is “situated” in time’ (press release for Richard Deacon: Tomorrow, And Tomorrow, And Tomorrow, L.A.Louver, Venice, California, October–November 2000, http://www.lalouver.com/resource/deacon_bio/Tomorrow.pdf
, accessed 16 June 2010).
‘Interview: Pier Luigi Tazzi in conversation with Richard Deacon’, in John Thompson, Pier Luigi Tazzi, Peter Schjeldahl and Penelope Curtis, Richard Deacon, London 2000, pp.7–33.
Clarrie Wallis, ‘Richard Deacon’, in Judith Nesbitt and Jonathan Watkins (eds), Days Like These, London 2003, pp.74–9, reproduced p.77.
Vikki Bell, ‘Richard Deacon. Sculpture, Dundee 2001’, in Katrina M. Brown (ed.), Richard Deacon: Sculpture, exhibition catalogue, Dundee Contemporary Arts, 2001, pp.9–15, reproduced pp.14 and .