No, Daphne, No! and Charm - Flower - Ring (see Tate T05213) belong to a collaborative body of work produced by Rainer and Brus under the collective title Deepening with Clouding Over. This comprises 74 drawings and an edition of five etchings (see Tate P77235-9) made the following year. All works in this group are based on a series of botanical prints of the type known as nature prints. These were produced during the mid-nineteenth century by the direct impression of such specimens as plants, butterflies, feathers and fossils into a soft metal in order to replicate their structure. The technique was made redundant by the development of photography in the 1890s. The nature prints used for the drawings and related etchings all come from a ten volume work published in Prague in 1873 titled Physiotypia Plantarum Austriacarum by Constantin Freiherrn von Ettingshausen and Alois Pokorny, which depicts predominantly Austrian meadow and marsh plants. Rainer has collected old prints from various sources for many years and has been drawing and painting over other artist's works since around 1960 (see Tate T06778).
No, Daphne, No! is based on a print from the plant Prunella vulgaris Linn., known commonly as 'self heal'. In all the works in this series Rainer contributed first, usually making dark semi-obliterating marks in pencil or crayon. Occasionally, as on this print, he made pale circling pencil lines which cover most of the page without concealing the original image. He then passed the prints on, in batches, to Brus, who added bright colours and titles. Here Brus drew the outline of a head, its mouth in the bottom left hand corner, in black felt-tip. He added the red and brown streaks over the lower half of the face, daubs of green on the upper part of the image, and a touch of blue to one flower. The title words 'Nein, Daphne, Nein!', also added by Brus, refer to the figure of Daphne in Greek mythology, who was transformed into a laurel tree in order to escape the amorous advances of the god Apollo. The image could thus be seen as a representation of metamorphosis. Brus has been making 'Imagepoems' (Bilddichtungen) since 1970, in which he combines image with text to make associative rather than literal connections. Rainer and Brus had not previously collaborated, although both had made work with other artists. They subsequently worked together, both drawing and painting, on a series of black and white photographs. Both artists live and work in Austria, Brus in Graz and Rainer in Vienna.
Nouvelle Biennale de Paris 1985, exhibition catalogue, Grande Halle de la Villette, Paris 1985, pp.122-3
Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions 1986-88, Tate Gallery, London 1996, pp.581-2
Günter Brus Arnulf Rainer: Vertiefung mit Bewölkung, exhibition catalogue, Kunsthalle Hamburg, Hamburg 1986, pp.73-8 (German text), reproduced (colour) p.31 fig.22
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Technique and condition
An old print of a botanical study, the plant has been impressed onto a soft ground and etched. It is printed on a cream wove, fine surfaced paper in sepia ink.
The print, already foxed, has been drawn over by the artist with coloured crayons, graphite pencil and green watercolour paint.
On acquisition the print was framed in an aluminium L-section frame.