Room 1

Deacon studied at Saint Martin’s School of Art, concentrating mainly on performance-based work. Two years after graduating, his sculptural activity had turned towards object making, and it was this that he developed when he subsequently went on to study at the Royal College of Art. In 1978 Deacon spent a year in the United States where he made a series of nine drawings (five of which are shown here) based on Rilke’s Sonnets to Orpheus. These drawings were important for his subsequent practice because of both their curvilinear forms and their underlying theme of ‘resonance’. Deacon developed variations on the ‘hollow enclosure with an opening that seemed to be able to stand for either a mouth or an ear – or for his [Orpheus’s] musical instrument’. The final drawings resemble parts of the body: eyes, ears, mouths, all associated with perception and communication, key concerns for Deacon.

Richard Deacon, 'It's Orpheus When There's Singing #7' 1978-9

Richard Deacon
It's Orpheus When There's Singing #7 1978-9
Pastel and pencil on paper
support: 1117 x 1470 mm
Presented by the Weltkunst Foundation 1986© Richard Deacon

View the main page for this artwork

Untitled #1 1976
Fibreglass and reinforced polyester
1115 x 2200 x 1190 mm
Private collection

Untitled #1 1977
Wood
1225 x 2145 x 1020 mm
Private collection

It’s Orpheus When There’s Singing #4 1979
Graphite and crayon on paper
1070 x 1420 mm
Private collection

It’s Orpheus When There’s Singing #5 1978–9
Graphite on paper
1070 x 1420 mm
Kunstmuseum Winterthur

It’s Orpheus When There’s Singing #7 1978–9
Pastel and graphite on paper
1117 x 1470 mm
Tate

It’s Orpheus When There’s Singing #8 1979
Graphite, crayon and oil pastel on paper
1065 x 2135 mm
John and Pamela Lifton-Zoline

It’s Orpheus When There’s Singing #9 1979
Graphite and crayon on paper
1055 x 2125 mm
Private collection

Untitled 1980
Galvanised steel and concrete
1380 x 3740 x 1380 mm
Private collection