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T03687 Triptychos Post Historicus or Entrance to the Palace of Light
Mounted coloured photograph in integral frame bearing brass title plate 44 3/4 × 56 3/4 (1137 × 1441)
Engraved inscription on brass plate b.c. ‘Braco Dimitrijevic/triptychos post historicus/or entrance to the palace of light/Tate Gallery 1982/Part One: St Benedetto, looking towards Fusina J.M.W. Turner 1843/Part Two: light bulb installed by Peter Lockwood 1981/Part Three: pineapple’
Purchased from Waddington Galleries (Grant-in-Aid) 1983
Exh: Braco Dimitrijevic ‘Culturescape’ 1976–1984, Gemälde, Skulpturen, Fotografien, Museum Ludwig, Cologne, March 1983–May 1984, Kunsthalle Bern, June–August 1984 (not listed in catalogue, original installation repr. in col. p.61)
Lit: David Brown, Braco Dimitrijevic, Triptychos Post Historicus, exhibition leaflet, Tate Gallery, September 1985 (n.p.)
Dimitrijevic began the extended series of three-dimensional still-lifes to which he has given the generic title ‘Triptychos Post Historicus’ in 1976. Each combines an original work of art (an old or modern master, usually borrowed from a museum collection), an everyday artefact and an arrangement of fruit or vegetables. Dimitrijevic intends ‘Post Historicus’ to suggest a state which might transcend the hierarchies and value systems of recorded culture. In his book Tractatus Post Historicus (Tübingen 1976, n.p.) he gives a clue to the series’ title when he describes his earlier ‘Dialectical Chapel’ works (see entry for T03685 and T03686) as models for a ‘post historical’ society. ‘History was always created by the power structure which selected only certain data (convenient to itself) to be recorded. By “post-historical” I mean a situation which makes possible the co-existence of different qualities.’ In a note to David Brown (May 1985) the artist wrote that ‘post history’ ‘... is the time after history, time of multi-angular viewing, time of co-existence of different qualities’.
The ‘Triptychos’ works generally exist in two forms, as temporary installations in the gallery and in documentary form as photographs, as illustrated here.
The installations for T03687 and T03688 were made in their original, three-dimensional form, and photographed by Dimitrijevic, at the Tate Gallery in 1982. At the same time, he made two other installations. None of these three-dimensional works went on public display at that time but the three-dimensional versions of T03687 and T03688 were remade for a special exhibition of six of the artists' ‘Triptychos’ works, again based around paintings already in the Tate, held in September–October 1985. The leaflet for this exhibition lists these and contains an essay on the ‘Triptychos’ works by David Brown, a chronology for the series (noting that Dimitrijevic first made a work incorporating another work of art-a painting by his father - in 1967) and an extensive bibliography.
Regarding the appropriation of the work of others into his own works, Dimitrijevic has written (note to David Brown, op.cit.):
If there are some people who might object to the fact that I use other works to make mine, they should have in mind that perhaps the stretched canvases that Leonardo would paint on were sculptures by an unrecognised minimal artist. At least in my case there is the full appreciation of the other artist's work with its complete socio-historical, spiritual and material value incorporated.
According to the artist (same note), the ‘Triptychos Post Historicus’ works:
are based on a similar principle [to] the bust pieces [see entries for T03685 and T03686]. One element belongs to high culture, art and history, [the] second part is [an] object of everyday use and [the] third is the element of nature. This is a piece about [the] harmony of culture-nature, [a] portrait of our planet-cosmos in small. All the elements presented on [a] pedestal are like a micro version of what goes on on Earth. It's also about perception and measurement (colour shapes of prints and form and colour in the printing ...) when seen in two dimensions. In a photographic version or in a reproduction one immediately knows the size of the painting in relation to common experience of the apple size. It's also a measure for time; the eternity of art - decay of nature.
The original installation, ‘Triptychos Post Historicus: Entrance to the Palace of Light’, was subtitled:
Part One: ‘St Benedetto, looking towards Fusina’
J.M.W. Turner (exh. 1843)
Part Two: Light Bulb Installed by Peter Lockwood
Part Three: Pineapples
In this installation, or three-dimensional still-life, Turner's painting (Tate Gallery N00534, see Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised edition, New Haven and London, 1984, no.406, repr. pl.411) is surmounted by a bracket from which is suspended a bare light bulb. This is hung, lit, directly in front of the painting. On either side, two plinths are surmounted by real pineapples. The artist told the compiler that he chose the pineapples to represent nature because of their colour and also because he associates them with the Victorian era. The work juxtaposes science and art (the lightbulb ‘illuminates’ a work by the master of painted light).
Dimitrijevic has written (note to David Brown, op.cit.):
Long before science existed there was art as we call it today. Art is about cognition of the world. Mayb the walls of Altamira and Lascaux were the drawing boards of a man who was artist and scientist at the same time. As our civilisation ‘progressed’ the science of Altamira man, from today's point of view, became so simple and unsophisticated so that it became practically invisible. But one quality which is inherent in man, is creative thinking and performing. Apparently art has less to do with things on Earth than science, thus it is less practical and more free. Art deals often with questions that science would eventually prove later. It was not pure coincidence that Turner dealt with problems of light decades before Gebel and Edison. [The] pineapple stands as a symbol of golden era of Queen Victoria's reign-Economy, commerce, India, travel, exotic fruits coming to England.
The Tate Gallery 1982-84: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1986