View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms
London is a portfolio of eleven prints made by eleven artists based in London. It was commissioned by Charles Booth-Clibborn and published under his imprint, The Paragon Press, London. The images were printed and editioned at Coriander Studio, London. The portfolio was produced in an edition of sixty-five, the first forty of which are portfolio sets and the remainder are the artists' copies. A further fifteen sets were produced for artists and collaborators. Tate's copy is number five in the edition. The title and colophon pages were designed by Phil Baines using his own typeface. The portfolio is contained in a black buckram-covered wooden case bearing the title in yellow. London is the second group portfolio published by The Paragon Press since its inception in 1986. It was conceived as a portable group exhibition containing work by emerging artists of the same generation. There is no particular common theme. Factors linking some of them are studying art at Goldsmiths College, London in the late 80s (where they were taught by Conceptual artist Michael Craig-Martin, born 1941), working with Jay Jopling (who later opened White Cube Gallery in London) and being exhibited at the Saatchi and Karsten Schubert Galleries in London. Booth-Clibborn had already collected work by a number of the participating artists, few of whom had done any printmaking before embarking on the project. Most chose to work with screenprinting, with the exception of Langlands and Bell, whose image is embossed. Screenprinting is ideally suited to reproducing appropriated and photographic images. Its adoption reflects a characteristic use by young British artists (the group to which most of the London artists belong) of objects or images appropriated from everyday life. Individual prints vary in size, the type of paper used and the orientation of the image.
Hirst's image, Untitled, is an eight-colour screenprint in portrait orientation on 300gsm Somerset Satin paper. It consists of a grid of photographic images of rocks against a salmon pink background. It has been partially varnished so that the background is glossy and the rocks are matt. Hirst 'bought the stones on the King's Road in London and laid them on a sheet of pink paper in a form which reminded him of an illustration from a school geography text book' (Contemporary British Art in Print , p.48). It was Hirst's first print. The grid is an important component in Hirst's work, used as a structure for organising. His famous Spot Paintings, begun in 1988 and still being made, consist of a range of different coloured spots laid out in grid formation. Hirst has also arranged organic and inorganic matter of various types in rows on medicine cabinet shelves. Forms Without Life 1991 (Tate (T06657) is a glass-fronted cabinet containing rows of exotic sea shells.
Contemporary British Art in Print: The Publications of Charles Booth-Clibborn and his Imprint The Paragon Press 1986-95, exhibition catalogue, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh 1995, pp.19 and 46-51, reproduced (colour) p.49
Damien Hirst, exhibition catalogue, Institute of Contemporary Arts, London 1991
Jeremy Cooper, no FuN without U: the art of Factual Nonsense, London 2000, pp.39-41, reproduced (colour) p.40