Robyn Denny

Collage 2 (The Rout of San Romano, Small Version No. I)

1957

Medium
Paper and gouache on board
Dimensions
Support: 559 x 1041 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Presented by the artist 1973
Reference
T01831

Display caption

Denny is best known for the hard-edged abstract style he adopted in 1959. This work is one of several collages he made in 1957 which directly refer to Paolo Uccello's The Rout of San Romano, which hangs in the National Gallery, London. Denny felt that in this painting Uccello had succeeded in arranging realistic subject matter into a virtually abstract composition and that the recognisable motifs are subordinate to the structure of the painting. In this work Denny used collage to replicate and explore the structure he admired in Uccello's painting.

Gallery label, August 2004

Catalogue entry

Robyn Denny b.1930

T01831 Collage 2 (The Rout of San Romano, Small Version No.1) 1957

Inscribed ‘DENNY 57’b.r.
Paper and gouache on board, 22 x 41(56 x 104).
Presented by the artist 1973.
Exh: Tate Gallery, March–April 1973 (not numbered).

T01831 is one of several collages made in 1957 which directly refer to Paolo Uccello’s ‘The Rout of San Romano’ (National Gallery, London). At the time Denny was fascinated with the significance of slogans, and the images created by layers of graffiti whose various meanings had been obliterated by further levels of writing. The Uccello painting was considered by Denny to embody the quality of a palimpsest since he felt that Uccello had organised a realistic subject matter into a virtually abstract composition, whereby the recognisable motifs were concealed within a formal structure. ‘Golem 1’ 1957 (T01523),‘Collage (R.St.R) 1957’, and T1831 are all related to the structures in Uccello’s painting, a reproduction of which was in front of him while he was working.

T01831 is made of roughly torn scraps of various kinds of paper, including tissue, labels, and magazine photographs which have been stuck on board and partly covered by paint which has been allowed to drip down the surface. Denny had a large collection of magazine and newspaper photographs which were sometimes included in his collages. In the case of T01831 he incorporated a newspaper photograph depicting five towers to suggest the pattern of the lances and to echo the mood of chivalry in Uccello’s painting.

Published in The Tate Gallery Report 1972–1974, London 1975.