Catalogue entry

Craig Kauffman born 1932

T01071 Untitled 1967

Not inscribed
Perspex, 18 3/8 x 56 1/8 x 9 3/8 (46.5 x 142.5 x 24)
Presented anonymously through the American Federation of Arts 1968
Prov: From the artist to private collector, Los Angeles
Lit: Jane Livingston, 'Recent Work by Craig Kauffman' in Artforum, VI, February 1968, pp.36-9

Craig Kauffman began to make factory-produced plastic pictures towards the end of 1963. The earliest of these incorporated relatively complex shapes (for example, what one critic described as 'erotic thermometers') in relief on a flat background, but the total shape of the object gradually became a dominant concern. However it was not until 1967 that he made his first completely regular and symmetrical works. His first two series of this type were both rectangular with rounded corners, swelling out from the wall in two stages, culminating in a long narrow rectangular protuberance in the centre which is indented slightly along its outer face. They were identical in format, but different in size, and were cast from vacuum-formed moulds measuring respectively 87.5 x 145 x 21cm and 137 x 193 x 33.5cm. The first (smaller) series of eight was cast in uniformly coloured plastic, but most pieces were afterwards also sprayed from the back to create more complex effects of colour. The other group of twelve was formed in clear plastic and sprayed afterwards in two or more colours. (See the article by Jane Livingston, op. cit., for reproductions and a more detailed account of these).

The work presented to the Tate comes from Kauffman's next series and differs in being much narrower in format: the long central protuberance is the principal feature and the surrounding area has shrunk almost to nothing. This series comprises the Tate's piece vacuum-formed in solid red plastic, one in solid blue and three multi-coloured. One of the multi-coloured works now belongs to the Norton Simon Museum of Art at Pasadena and has the protuberance coloured yellow at one end and pink at the other, with a greenish halo around it and the rest of the surround creamy white. (It is reproduced in colour in the exh. catalogue Craig Kauffman, Pasadena Art Museum, January-March 1970, no.14, with the date 1968).

Kauffman writes: 'It was the last complex organic form before the "Bubble series". Also the mold was crafted in steel by a master metal shaper, at California Metal Shaping Co., over a full scale wooden mock-up which I executed. This is the same method used in making custom auto bodies' (letter of August 1975).

Published in:
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, pp.381-2, reproduced p.381