Catalogue entry

T02321 TABLE 1978

Not inscribed
Acrylic on cotton duck and calico, 83 1/2 × 63 × 3 3/4 (212.1 × 160.1 × 9.6)
Purchased from the Waddington Galleries (Knapping Fund) 1978
Exh: Recent Works by Michael Moon. Waddington Galleries, November–December 1978 (no catalogue)

The technique of casting from objects in his studio, the tools of the trade, had been developed by Moon since 1976. A full description of the process used to make ‘Drawing’ 1976 (T02073) can be found in The Tate Gallery 1976–8: he used a similar process for ‘Table’. This work consists of four superimposed layers of canvas taken from the surfaces of his studio table.

Moon's interest in earlier art, particularly Cézanne, Bonnard and Cubism can be found in this work. He is concerned not only with the method of production and the nature of the objects but also with specific compositional problems. He descibes the largest panel of ‘Table’ as having the slight perspectival feeling of an up-tilted plane similar to Bonnard. The superimposition of further planes and their compositional arrangement he likens to Cubist works.

In his earlier ‘strip paintings’ (cf. T01255, ‘Untitled’ 1970) Moon had made careful gradations of colour over a surface. He returns to this here in the two uppermost panels where he covered the underside of the table with pigment which ranges from red to orange. He used the underside both because he wanted ‘clean’ pulls from the surface and because he was interested in the spatial ambiguity which results from upturning the table and applying it to the surface of the painting. (At one time he had planned to indicate the legs of the table projecting from the work). The other panels are cast from the table top and bear the traces of earlier workings and earlier castings: Moon says that this gives them a ‘lived-in-feeling’. The largest panel is made up of a number of the table panels; they are not joined together in a precise way, but the overall shape is important.

This work was shown alongside a group of similar pieces which Moon feels is mid-way towards a return for him to painting. He found that the strip paintings had become systematic and mechanical and used the casting method as a way to make objects. His increased interventions in this work (by applying colour and superimposing casts), he would like to think might eventually lead him back to facing a blank canvas again. He works entirely from the objects around him, taking a cast and superimposing the results loose on the wall before making stretchers for the work and putting it together. He emphasises that his current work is concerned with objects that are ‘charts of an activity’, and is happy to incorporate chance occurrences when the canvas is stripped from the object.

This information was drawn from a conversation with the artist on 20 November 1980. The entry has been approved by the artist.

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1978-80: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1981