Phillip King b. 1934
T01360 Call 1967
Painted steel, 174 x 180 x 216 (441 x 457 x 549).
Presented by Alistair McAlpine 1971.
Exh: National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, 1970; The Alistair McAlpine Gift, Tate Gallery, June–August 1971 (23, repr. in colour).
Lit: Anne Seymour, in catalogue of The Alistair McAlpine Gift, 1971, pp. 65–71.
The sculpture is in an edition of two: it comprises two steel blocks and two steel columns, painted in three reds, and three greens. King first made ‘Call’ in fibreglass in 1967. However, the fibreglass surface, due to its broad area and geometrical form, became distorted and marked. King remade the work in steel in 1969, on this occasion in an edition of two. The versions of Call’ in steel were the first steel sculptures that the artist made on his own. The artist told the compiler (conversation, 27 April 1972) that his decision to work the steel himself for his sculptures came as a result of his visit to Japan: he learned there to handle steel as it was used in the shipbuilding industry; this gave him greater knowledge both of the qualities of steel and of the problems of handling the material.
He had taken a long time to work out the colours and positions of the pieces of the original ‘Call’. He first conceived that the sculpture would comprise the two boxed pieces. He introduced the two columns because, as he explained, he wanted to ‘raise the dialogue between these two forms’; he planned to lay one column on the floor, and one upright on the wall. He then decided to place the columns in the space of the other two pieces.
The artist considers that T01360 is an environmental work: the scale and position of the individual pieces allows the colours to ‘bounce’ from column to column, box to box. None of the pieces arc self contained but relate together to establish the space of the sculpture. The position of the boxes and columns is determined by the artist. The edges of the pieces are bevelled and constructed both to trap the colours and also to throw out light. Red and green were deliberately chosen as contraries, so that there would be the continual play of colours to their respective shadows. The columns provide the main effect of lighting. The artist told the compiler (conversation 1971) ‘“Call” relies on colour and light. If you take the columns down the colour seems to go down. They act as modulations not as verticals in an upright mass.’
Published in The Tate Gallery Report 1970–1972, London 1972.