Marc Camille Chaimowicz

Folding Screen (Five Part)


Not on display

Marc Camille Chaimowicz born 1947
Photographs, gelatin silver print on paper and acrylic paint on wood
Object: 2240 × 1170 × 25 mm
Purchased using funds provided by the 2019 Frieze Tate Fund supported by Endeavor to benefit the Tate collection 2020


Folding Screen (Five-Part) 1979 consists of a series of five self-supporting decorative panels that, connected by hinges, together form a domestic-style folding screen. Upon each of the painted panels is pasted a series of photographs. These black and white images are occasionally hand-tinted with brushmarks in gentle pastel hues. They are arranged in clusters and illustrate a series of couples in domestic interiors. Each panel is decorated with regular abstract designs reminiscent of fabric or wallpaper patterns, creating a visually rich and precisely rendered object.

In his work Chaimowicz typically brings together various media, such as sculpture, painting, drawing and photography, with elements from the decorative arts. In the 1970s he was one of the first artists to merge the realms of performance and installation art. His work combines a sensitivity to the personal and the everyday with a highly developed use of tableaux, where he deliberately does not draw a distinction between his working process, the finished object and day to day life. Folding Screen (Five-Part) sets up oppositions and traces narratives in a dense play of shifting viewpoints. The photographs of couples sitting together, talking and caught in private domestic moments, are intersected by images of a single male, an empty landscape and the screen itself, blank, before any adornment or decoration. This juxtaposition between the images reinforces a sense of dialogue between immateriality and materiality, presence and absence, that is typical of Chaimowicz’s practice.

The work could be seen to relate formally to later installations by the artist, including T, Diptych: London, H.C.<―>Amsterdam, D.A. 1980, Triptych No 2 1981 and Vienna Triptych, Leaning … and Surrounded by Chorus Girls and Sentinels 1982 (Tate T13255). Each work engages the panel format as a matrix for the display of photographs, thus challenging the conventions of hanging artworks on a wall. Curator Catherine Wood has written that ‘Chaimowicz’s approach to painting, not unlike [the Polish artist Edward] Krasínski’s, spreads from the discrete canvas, virus-like, to camouflage walls, furniture fabrics and sculptures’. She has further explained how, in these works, ‘The artist recalls his own living space in Approach Road, London … an early site for his décor-installations, wallpaper, furniture and curtain, within which he performed early work such as Table Tableau 1974’ (Catherine Wood, ‘Painting in the Shape of a House’, in Tate Modern 2012, pp.20–21).

The panels in Folding Screen thus occupy an ambiguous position between abstract painting and interior décor, between painting and object, that enables Chaimowicz to dissolve the boundaries of ‘fine art’ in relation to applied art and interior design. Such work deliberately defies straightforward categorisation in the artist’s pursuit of the beautiful, and is characterised by his reluctance to elevate his working process above the routines and objects of everyday life.

Further reading
Marc Camille Chaimowicz 19861990, exhibition catalogue, Museé de Cosne, France 1995.
Marc Camille Chaimowicz, exhibition catalogue, Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen, Düsseldorf 2005.
Catherine Wood (ed.), A Bigger Splash: Painting after Performance, exhibition catalogue, Tate Modern, London 2012.

Nathan Ladd
October 2019

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