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Piper made this construction after seeing an exhibition of reliefs in Paris by Cesar Domela, an associate of De Stijl, the Dutch modernist group.

Piper first exhibited his constructions in London in 1935. One critic said they were made ‘from hunks of cable, rods, drums, ribbed lavatory panes, strips of perforated bluebottle-metal, etc.’ To him they suggested ‘underground wiring diagrams, or nightmare relief maps such as a neat and gifted electrician might improvise in sleep’. Rational diagrams appealed strongly to Modernist artists but these shapes probably recall nautical objects such as masts, buoys and floats.

February 2010