Richard Artschwager

Interior I


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Richard Artschwager 1923–2013
Etching on paper
Image: 227 × 250 mm
Purchased 1986

Display caption

Interior I plays with our expectations about particular types of media: it was based on a magazine photograph, but the exaggerated brush-strokes on the surface echo painterly gestures. Interior II relates to a series of drawings in which Artschwager presented the same six objects (a basket, table, door, window, mirror and rug), each time varying their surface, appearance and scale. In this work, the perspective has been exaggerated, so that the basket seems much larger than the door or table.

Gallery label, August 2004

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Catalogue entry

P77154 Interior I 1977

Etching 227 × 250 (9 × 9 7/8) on wove Arches paper 597 × 532 (23 1/2 × 21); plate-mark 227 × 250 (9 × 9 7/8); printed by Patricia Branstead at Aeropress, New York and published by Multiples, New York in an edition of 45
Inscribed 'Artschwager ‘77’ below image b.r. and ‘13/45’ below image b.r.
Purchased from Marian Goodman Gallery, New York (Grant-in-Aid) 1986
Lit: rint Collector's Newsletter, vol.8, no.3, July–Aug. 1977, pp.78–9, as ‘Untitled (Etching)’

P77154 depicts ornate furniture and fittings, which are seen from behind the armchair at the bottom right of the image. It is printed in black, but the brushed texture across the whole image gives the work a grey tonality. On publication, P77154 was described in the Print Collector's Newsletter in the following way:

Rhythmic brushstrokes were applied in an allover pattern to the plate. Working from light to dark in six to eight layers of openbite, Artschwager then drew his image, following a magazine photo of some highly elegant interior, freely exaggerating its interior rhythms of light and dark to capture the painterly values contained. The subject of the print becomes light and shade, and photo, painting, and print equal means to illustrate.

Artschwager confirmed that the image was based on a photograph, but he was unable to identify its source. In a letter to the compiler postmarked 17 May 1993, he wrote, ‘I suspect the New York Times magazine, date unknown of course. It might even be a composite of more than one image’. In a conversation with the compiler in New York on 2 April 1990 the artist said he chose to have a wide margin around the interior in P77154 because he ‘wanted a vacuum surrounding the very compacted image’.

P77154 was the first of a group of three etchings to be completed (see entry on P77155). It was published as ‘Untitled (Etching)’ and there are twelve artist's proofs in addition to the numbered edition. Artschwager confirmed in his letter that ‘Untitled (Etching)’ and P77154 are the same print, but was unsure about the correct title for the work. At the time of acquisition P77154 was known as ‘Interior I’ and it has been decided to retain this title. The ornate interior and overall surface texture give P77154 a different appearance to the other two prints of the group and relate it closely to several paintings of the same subject that Artschwager made on textured surfaces in the early and mid-1970s (see, for example, ‘Untitled’, 1973, a work painted in acrylic on celotex, repr. Richard Armstrong, Artschwager, Richard, exh. cat., Whitney Museum of American Art, New York 1988, no.76). The other etchings of the group, ‘Interior II’ and ‘Interior III’, are based on images from a set of fifty-three drawings made in 1974 (see entry on P77155).

The artist has approved this entry.

Published in:
Tate Gallery: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions 1986-88, London 1996

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