Robyn Denny b.1930
T01832 Manman 1957
Inscribed ‘Denny 57’b.r.
Ink on paper, 6¿ x 9 1/16 (16.2 x 23).
Presented by the artist 1973.
Exh: Tate Gallery, March–April 1973 (not numbered).
Lit: Robert Kudielka in introduction to Tate Gallery exhibition catalogue 1973, p.14.
T01832 is a preliminary sketch for ‘ManMan’ (1957). In 1957–58 Denny was including in his collages and paintings not only fragments of numbers or letters but also whole words and phrases. These were usually short and their function was ‘confined to the stimulus of recognition’ giving ‘the spectator a literary key to help him tune into the particular mood of the painting (GO GO, HA HA), or decipher the connotations of a significant form (ManMan). The words and the letters are bait to lure the eye out of the everyday world and into the world of the painting’.
The artist said that during his final year at the Royal College of Art his tutor urged him to paint figurative pictures. He thought of the words ‘man man’ at the time as being the simplest way to denote a person. In this sketch he scrawled out these words several times as if he were writing graffiti, and the words seemed to lose legibility. The slogan was similarly incorporated into the painting and gave the appearance of both representing the figure and graffiti on a wall.
On the back of the sketch is a small woodcut of a man in a chair by Pilgrim Wetton, a friend of the artist.
Published in The Tate Gallery Report 1972–1974, London 1975.