P11201 Kronos 1985
Monotype 1540 × 1115 (60 1/2 × 40) on BFK Rives wove paper, same size; printed by Garner Tullis at Garner Tullis Workshop, Santa Barbara
Presented by Garner H. Tullis and Pamela Auchincloss 1988
‘Kronos’ depicts a single form, printed in black, which can be read as a torso or a back. It is one of approximately twenty-five monotypes Tucker made in early 1985 in Emeryville, Santa Barbara, California, at the invitation of Garner Tullis. They are related to five large plaster sculptures entitled ‘Gods’, which were made between 1985 and 1986 and were exhibited at the Tate Gallery in 1987. The sculptures, also large quasi-abstract forms, are slightly twisted or incline from the vertical axis. Three of the ‘Gods’ were made in 1985, including one entitled ‘Kronos’. The plaster version of ‘Kronos’, later cast in bronze, is reproduced in Dore Ashton, William Tucker: Gods. Five Recent Sculptures, exh. cat., Tate Gallery 1987, p.11 (col.).
In a letter to the compiler postmarked 27 April 1993, Tucker said that the monotypes were not studies for particular sculptures. He made them just after completing the first models for the ‘Gods’ sculptures in order to explore ideas. ‘I had an idea, some small clay models, but no drawings. I wanted to make sculptures that could not be drawn in advance, would have no front or back, no “good” views. The monotypes were an opportunity to test these ideas, quickly, intuitively, and at a larger scale in relation to my body.’
According to Tucker, printmaking is marginal to his work, although he said he enjoyed the opportunity ‘to work large, and fast, with no editing or revision, which always seemed to be an issue with etching or litho’. Monotype printmaking, he explained, represented ‘as direct and physical an experience as working in plaster; a connection with the body, rather than the eyes’. This way of working related to a shift in his art in the early 1980s, when he began modelling in clay and plaster after twenty years of making constructions in steel and wood.
He intended the ‘Gods’ series to be open-ended in their imagery. ‘“Kronos” [the sculpture]’, he wrote, ‘is not necessarily a torso, or if it is a torso, it is also a fist, a tree bole, etc. etc. ... There is no “subject”’. He titled the works after they were finished and gave them the names of pre-Olympian Greek deities, for which ‘there were no traditional images, suggesting at once a connection with the Greek obsession with the body, but at its dark “cthonic” source’.
In the 1987 Tate Gallery catalogue Ashton wrote of the ‘Gods’ sculptures: ‘In their ancient titles, in their very shape, they tell of Tucker's will to pull up full-bodied presences from a consecrated clay that offers timeless resistance’ (Ashton 1987, p.8). For Ashton, the sculptures ‘embody movement. They express movement, but they are visibly immovable’ (ibid., p.13). Regarding the ‘Kronos’ sculpture, she wrote, ‘when Tucker gives a few crucial visual directions, as he does in “Kronos” where a fold near the base prompts associations with the torsion of flesh, a complex being (or becoming?) is conjured’ (ibid., p.16). There is no indication of torsion in P11201 but the shaded areas on the upper and lower right-hand sides of the central form suggest a three-dimensional, fleshy solidity.
In a letter to the compiler dated 27 March 1993, Pamela Auchincloss, the co-donor of P11201, suggested that Tucker's monotypes of 1985 were partly inspired by Rodin and Matisse, particularly the latter's series of ‘Back’ reliefs made between c.1909–10 and 1930. She wrote, ‘the shapes of the sculptures certainly share these references’.
In his letter Tucker wrote that the title of P11201 was given by Garner Tullis. On completion of the group, the monotypes were divided between the artist and printer. Tucker made a second group of monotypes with Tullis in 1987, to which another print in the Tate Gallery collection, P11213, belongs. He characterised this later group as ‘mostly torsos, much smaller and denser images [which] use colour (of a kind)’.
The artist has approved this entry.
Tate Gallery: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions 1986-88, London 1996