Patrick Caulfield

Red Jug and Lamp


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Patrick Caulfield 1936–2005
Screenprint on paper
Image: 598 × 444 mm
Purchased 2006


Red Jug and Lamp is a screenprint made at Advanced Graphics, a fine art print workshop in London. It was published in an edition of 150 with 15 proofs by Waddington Graphics, London; Tate’s copy is number 132 in the edition. The print is signed by the artist and numbered in the lower right corner in the narrow margin of white around the image.

Red Jug and Lamp was published on behalf of the Serpentine Gallery, London at the time of Caulfield’s solo exhibition there. It is customary for the Serpentine to commission a limited edition work from exhibiting artists, which is then available for purchase through the gallery. These sales help to raise funds for the gallery. The print depicts the white form of a simple table lamp, surrounded by a yellow glow which echoes and extends its shape, set in front of a red jug against a black background. Only parts of the jug can be seen, the neck and pouring lip, the handle and one side of the base. The imagery in Red Jug and Lamp continues a theme which had been predominant in Caulfield’s prints throughout the 1980s and early 1990s. Immediately before this print he had made the portfolio White Ware Prints (1990, P79191P79198), in which a single piece of pottery is juxtaposed with a lamp or other light source. Prior to that he had made a number of prints featuring ceramic plates (Wall Plates 1987, P79185P79188) and jugs (Large Jug 1983, P79184). All these prints share an interest in depicting solid objects using areas of flat colour, and a preoccupation with the representation of light and shadow.

Speaking to Marco Livingstone in the early 1980s the artist explained: ‘Once I got on to shadows, I really went to town; they became compositional elements, in fact more than the objects that the shadows came from. They’re all silhouettes. You accept them as shadows, but they’re not at all as shadows would be.’ (Quoted in Livingstone, p.86, note 50.) He continued: ‘I’m not actually painting from observation of light, I’m making up an idea of how light could appear to be. The angles of light in naturalistic terms could be totally wrong, but they either help the composition of the picture or they help the feeling of light more strongly.’ (Quoted in Livingstone, p.95.)

Patrick Caulfield made his first print, Ruins (P04076), in 1964 at Kelpra Studio, the fine art print workshop established by master printer Chris Prater in the late 1950s. Having chosen the medium of screenprinting for its ability to create immaculately flat areas of bright, saturated colour, Caulfield continued to collaborate with Prater and, from the late 1960s, with Chris Betambeau and later Bob Saich at Advanced Graphics. He produced prints regularly throughout his career, until 1999 when he made Les Demoiselles d’Avignon vues de Derrière (P78309), an homage to Pablo Picasso’s great painting Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (1907, collection Museum of Modern Art, New York). For Caulfield, printmaking was a parallel activity to his painting, allowing him to explore the same subject matter and artistic concerns:

Because I’m such a slow producer of paintings, I regard printmaking as a way of extending the kind of imagery that concerns me, because of its multiplication in editions. I don’t think of a print as very different to a painting, because I make a painting for each print in more or less detail. I’m not really a printmaker at all. I provide an image and then it’s printed by professional printers. It’s a relief to see this work under way.
(Quoted in Livingstone, p.31.)

Further reading
Marco Livingstone, Patrick Caulfield: Paintings, London 2005.
Mel Gooding, Patrick Caulfield: The Complete Prints 1964-1999, Alan Cristea Gallery, London 1999, reproduced no.83.

Michela Parkin
March 2009

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