Constructed Works brings together two of Britain's key post-war abstract artists, Kenneth Martin (1905–1984) and Mary Martin (1907–1969). In the first joint public-gallery exhibition since 1971, the show presents a focused body of work by each artist, highlighting the correspondences and differences between their practice. Living and working together, they continually exchanged ideas, although rarely collaborated in their lifetimes.
Foremost among the generation of British artists who 'rediscovered' abstraction during the 1940s, the Martins studied painting at the Royal College of Art, where they met, and worked as designers early in their careers before producing their first abstract paintings. These experiments in abstraction quickly translated into three dimensions, taking the form of abstract relief-sculptures, mobiles and constructions.
They developed their constructions through relationships of simple, harmonic and repeated forms using mathematical progression and rules of proportion. Their interest in modern industrial materials and the possibilities of science and technology imbues their work with a sense of optimism for the future, while also acknowledging the legacy of past technologies, and the importance of the hand-made.
This touring exhibition, organised by Camden Arts Centre, London and De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill, focuses on Kenneth Martin's mobiles from the 1950s onwards and his later Chance and Order series of abstract paintings, alongside Mary Martin's elegant relief-sculptures.
A fully-illustrated catalogue has been produced which brings new perspectives to the Martins' work through specially commissioned texts by Toby Paterson, James Hugonin and writer and art historian Sam Gathercole. Priced £17.50.