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Keith Milow b. 1945
T01213 1 2 3 4 5 6 ... ¿ 1970
Resin, crayon and fibreglass, 42 x 84 x 4 (106.5 x 213.5 x 10). Purchased from the artist through Nigel Greenwood Inc. Ltd. (Gytha Trust) 1970.
Exh: Nigel Greenwood Inc. Ltd., May 1970 (6); City Art Gallery, Leeds, April–May 1972 (22, repr.).
Lit: Richard Morphet, Improved Reproductions: Notes in Progress on Keith Milow, commentary published by Nigel Greenwood Inc. Ltd., May 1970; Anne Seymour, ‘Choice states . . .’ (notes on Milow’s work and statement by Milow based on conversations with Anne Seymour), in Studio International, CLXXXIII, 1972, pp. 112–15 (repr.).
T01213 is the sixth and last in a group of works entitled ‘Improved Reproductions’. Milow began work on the group in January 1970 and had completed it by April. The ‘Improved Reproductions’ fall into two series, A and B, each of which was originally conceived as containing six works. Series A (support, canvas; principal media, paint and canvas) contains two works only, one with partial resin overlay. No. 1 was destroyed and Milow decided not to make Nos. 4–6. Series A was left definitively incomplete in February 1970 before Series ¿ was begun. Series ¿ contains four works, nos. 2, 4, 5 and 6; nos. 1 and 3 were destroyed by the artist.
All six ‘Improved Reproductions’ represent and comment upon an earlier work by Milow made in 1969 and entitled. # This work is in polyester resin, pigment, metal powder and acrylic on cut and folded canvas, and measures 42 x 84 x 4 in. (private collection). In the conversation with Anne Seymour (loc. cit.) the artist explained that this title ‘is unpronounceable, but… refers to what I considered the major influences on the picture, beside myself (Anthony Caro, Richard Smith, Richard Hamilton, Robert Morris, Joseph Beuys)’. To make this work of 1969, Milow first copied in paint on a rectangular canvas the photograph (reproduced in the catalogue of Caro’s retrospective at the Hayward Gallery, London, in 1969) of'Piece LXIII’ by Anthony Caro. He then cut the canvas, from its top edge, into sixteen vertical strips of equal width; the cuts terminated the same distance from the bottom edge of the canvas as their own width. (In the interview with Anne Seymour, loc. cit., Milow observed: ‘that it was a picture of a Caro sculpture which was cut up… wasn't a political statement in any way. I was treating the object as a device rather than something that exists with its own area of reference; although I think once it is known that the source is a Caro it makes one look at the piece very differently’). Each strip was then carried leftwards and attached by its top right corner to the right edge of the preceding strip at the highest point possible, producing a parabolic curve. Finally, the surface was painted all over with several coats of translucent resin, into some of which yellow and pink pigment and lead powder were introduced. Held in suspension by the hardened resin, the pigmentation largely effaced the depicted image, to which the highly reflective surface provided a further barrier.
In a statement on T01213 written for the Tate Gallery in June 1972, the artist explained that the group of ‘Improved Reproductions’ ‘was intended to display this work [of 1969] as having a role as subject in a schematic and progressive restatement of itself. The series was a narrative culminating in a “ghost” version [T01213] of the original.
‘This version was an attempt to imitate the original in format, structure and subject, the differences being that it was monochromatic, drawn, not painted, and made from clear resin and fibreglass instead of the canvas and coloured resins of the original…’
‘Before each strip was folded the fibreglass was coated with resin and allowed to harden slightly before folding to achieve the required stiffness in the fold. This was done horizontally.’
‘To achieve rigidity required bracing as had been the case in the original. Instead of using aluminium I made a triangular section of clear resin and fibreglass placing it on the back of the work wherever the aluminium section of the original occurred regardless of the fact that they were now visible.’
Five of the six ‘Improved Reproductions’ are reproduced in the catalogue of Milow’s Leeds retrospective of 1972; the only one not reproduced there, ‘ 1 2 3 456... A’, is reproduced in the Milow/Seymour interview.
Published in The Tate Gallery Report 1970–1972, London 1972.