Patrick Caulfield

Pink Jug


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Patrick Caulfield 1936–2005
Screenprint on paper
Image: 761 × 597 mm
Purchased 1999


Pink Jug is a screenprint featuring a stylised image of a jug set against a dark grey background. A thick, smoothly curving black line represents the upper half of the vessel’s right side and the opening and lip at the top of the jug. The bottom half of the jug and its handle are rendered using blocks of black ink. Between these two areas is a thin line of the same grey hue that comprises the work’s background. A large, pale pink, triangular form with curving sides cuts across the middle of the jug, and slightly below the black line depicting the top of the object is a much smaller but similarly shaped dark pinkish-red section. A small patch of white can also be seen towards the tip of the jug’s lip and may represent a patch of bright light. The remainder of the jug’s exterior and opening are depicted using the same grey tone that comprises the print’s background, and along the top-left portion of the jug’s main body there is no line present to separate the background grey from that of the object, such that they bleed directly into one another. All of the colours in this work are completely unmodulated and the pink and red sections and the black handle each have one uneven edge, potentially evoking torn paper. Surrounding the image is a thin, pale grey border, in the bottom-right of which the artist’s signature and the letters ‘HC’ are written in pencil.

Pink Jug was designed by the British artist Patrick Caulfield in London in 1981. As with all of his prints, Caulfield initially composed the work in the form of an acrylic painting. It was printed in 1982 at Kelpra Studio, a fine art print workshop in London, on white, heavy-weight, machine-woven paper using serigraph inks, which may have been oil-based. Colour was applied at a uniform thickness across the composition. It was published within an edition of eighty by Waddington Graphics, London, in 1982, although the edition number of this particular print is not known. The work is float-mounted on museum board using paper hinges, and has been framed for display by Tate.

The critic Mel Gooding has written that the ‘simple, schematic and direct’ style of Caulfield’s prints from the early 1980s represented a shift from the highly complex compositions in his prints and paintings of the mid- to late 1970s (such as Still Life Ingredients 1976, Estate of Patrick Caulfield, London; Caulfield and Gooding 1998, p.14). Pink Jug is one of a group of four screenprints made by Caulfield in 1981–2, all of which depict jugs in the same stylised manner (see also Water Jug 1981–2, Tate P78306; Brown Jug 1981–2, P78307; and Pitcher 1981–2, Tate P78308). While its title seems to imply that the depicted jug is wholly or mostly pink, this is not suggested by the image, which only shows two areas of pink on a predominantly black and grey object. This discrepancy appears in many of the prints Caulfield made from 1974 onwards (see also Lung Ch’uan Ware and Black Lamp 1990, Tate P79194), and the effect has been discussed by Gooding as follows:

colour bleeds from the surround into the image, a cubist-derived device that Caulfield has continued to use ... to demonstrate the fictitious nature of the printed image, and to show that a single undifferentiated colour may simultaneously serve both decorative and descriptive purposes, can at once magically define image and ground, create the illusion of both a form and of a circumambient fictive space, and assert the objective actuality of the printed plane.
(Mel Gooding, ‘Patrick Caulfield: The Complete Prints’, in Caulfield and Gooding 1998, p.13.)

Caulfield made many prints from 1964 onwards, often collaborating with printers at Kelpra Studio. In 1998 he stated that because his painting process was very ‘slow’, generally resulting in only two or three works produced per year, printing became important for him because it enabled the speedy ‘multiplication’ and dissemination of many works (Caulfield in Caulfield and Robertson, ‘Patrick Caulfield: A Dialogue with Bryan Robertson’, in Hayward Gallery 1999, p.31). Despite this, he also stated in the same interview that ‘I don’t think of a print as very different to a painting, because I make a painting for each print ... I’m not really a printmaker at all. I provide an image and then it’s printed by professional printers’ (Caulfield in Caulfield and Robertson 1999, p.31).

Further reading
Patrick Caulfield and Mel Gooding, Patrick Caulfield: The Complete Prints, 1964–1998, London 1998, p.92, reproduced pp.62, 92.
Patrick Caulfield, exhibition catalogue, Hayward Gallery, London 1999.
Clarrie Wallis, Patrick Caulfield, London 2013.

David Hodge
October 2015

Supported by Christie’s.

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Display caption

Caulfield's simplified, deliberately cartoon-like style makes no claims to a 'realistic' depiction of objects. Instead, through his work, Caulfied invites us to consider the nature of representation. The 'Jugs' have been radically reduced to a simple black outline, with planes of colour to represent light and shading, and yet they remain distinctly recognisable.

Gallery label, August 2004

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