Catalogue entry

T03407 Teatro Olimpico 1980

Acrylic on canvas 44 3/4 × 57 1/2 (1137 × 1458)
Inscribed ‘Hayter 80’ b.r. and ‘June 17 80 Teatro Olimpico’ on reverse
Presented by the artist 1982

The architectural shapes used in this painting are taken from two interiors: the auditorium of Palladio's Teatro Olimpico at Vicenza, and the artists' studio at the rue Cassini, Paris, where it was painted.

The artist visited Vicenza for the first time in February 1980, with the particular purpose of seeing Palladio's buildings, which Joseph Losey's film of Don Giovanni (1979) had recently brought to his mind. He made a sketch in the theatre, but it is represented only schematically in this painting, and the detail is not important. In the right hand half of the painting; shown upside down, is the shape of the stepped hemispherical seats and the row of columns behind them. The drawing of the other half of the painting is taken from the large hanging plants and the metal window of his studio. The geometry of these is distorted, and they are shown as they would appear in a concave mirror. In both halves the design was made from a recollection of the subjects, and not copied from them. The artist said in conversation (2 February 1983) that he thought of these two shapes on either side of the canvas as if each was a projection of the other in coordinate geometry.

The reds and the oranges in the painting are fluorescent paint, which Hayter has used in his work for more than twenty years. The purpose is to increase the depth and ambiguities of the space, as well as to reveal the colours beneath, since the paint is translucent. This configuration of space, with a central perspective with orthogonals converging from either side, Hayter had used in prints slightly earlier, such as the large colour etching ‘Serre’ (1979).

This entry has been approved by the artist.

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1982-84: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1986