Catalogue entry

William Tucker b. 1935

T01378 Karnak 1965

Not inscribed.
Painted fibreglass, 21½ x 53¿ x 52 (54.5 x 136.5 x 132).
Presented by Alistair McAlpine 1971.
Exh: Rowan Gallery, May 1966 (7); The Gregory Fellows, Leeds City Art Gallery, November–December 1969 (8); The Alistair McAlpine Gift, Tate Gallery, June–August 1971 (42, repr. in colour).
Lit: Richard Morphet, in catalogue of The Alistair McAlpine Gift, 1971, pp. 89–105.

T01378 is one of an edition of three, one of which is in the collection of the Waddington Galleries, London.

As the ‘Meru’ series was not alone in showing, Tucker is keenly interested in the assertion and disruption of symmetry. In ‘Karnak ‘, the actual symmetry of a grid is opposed to the inverted symmetry caused by the central bend. In the device of the bent-up plane (which looks back to works like ‘Unfold’), Tucker accentuates the sculpture’s fundamental relation with the ground, the more clearly in ‘Karnak’ because the grid is open. Coincidence with the flat ground has a neutral, unheroic quality which (by contrast with some sculptors’ deployment of forms in space) is shared by the simple action of bending part of a plane upwards (as in ‘Karnak’) or of stacking units into a pyramid (as in ‘Meru/Union’). Works of 1965–6 such as ‘Karnak’, ‘Thebes’ and ‘Memphis’ mark the culmination of several years’ use by Tucker of strong colour. His aim was that, while necessarily interacting with a sculpture’s other properties such as form and volume, colour should itself be a pure constructive element that could be deployed in large blocks. Developing its dual role, he created in ‘Karnak’ a sculpture that was at once both plane and volume. After 1965/6, colour’s role as articulator of form is more directly played by order and number.

Published in The Tate Gallery Report 1970–1972, London 1972.