Richard Deacon

Muzot #1


Not on display

Richard Deacon born 1949
Part of
Aquatint and lithographic crayon on paper
Image: 644 × 641 mm
Purchased 1988

Catalogue entry

[from] Muzot 1987 [P77252-P77255;complete]

Portfolio of four prints, various media, various sizes; printed by Peter Kneubühler, Zürich and published by Margarete Roeder Editions, New York in an edition of 25 with 1 trial proof, 2 printer's proofs and 3 artist's proofs
Each inscribed 'R.D. ‘87’ on back b.r. and ‘5/25’ on back b.l.
Purchased from Margarete Roeder Gallery, New York (Grant-in-Aid) 1988
Exh: Natural Order: Recent European Sculpture from the Tate's Collection, Tate Gallery Liverpool, July 1992–Jan. 1993 (no number, repr. p.14)
Lit: ‘Prints or Photographs Published’, Print Collector's Newsletter, vol.18, Nov.–Dec. 1987, p.176, repr. Also repr: Richard Deacon: Sculptures and Drawings: 1985–1988, exh. cat., Fundación Caja des Pensiones, Madrid 1988, p.94 (col.)

P77252 Muzot 1

Aquatint and lithographic crayon 644 × 641 (25 3/8 × 25 1/4) on Zerkall-Bütten wove paper 644 × 641 (25 3/8 × 25 1/4)

This portfolio consists of four prints which are all printed in black ink. Each image is dominated by an irregularly shaped, curvilinear form. In P77252 a network of intersecting straight and curving lines is overlaid by a bi-polar pendulous shape. This image is related to the series of drawings entitled ‘It's Orpheus when there's singing’ (T04859, see earlier entry in this volume). P77253 depicts a similar shape, represented as two ovoid forms linked by a curved strip against a black background. P77254 and P77255 are printed on beige, plastic canvas laminate with wood grain, a material which relates to Deacon's use of patterned plastics - linoleum and vinyl - in such sculptures as ‘Out of His Own Mouth’, 1987–8 (repr. Richard Deacon, exh. cat., Whitechapel Art Gallery 1989 [p.64 in col.]). In a fax to the compiler dated 28 November 1994 Deacon added, ‘In 1973–74 I used a lot of wood grained or otherwise patterned and textured wall papers. ‘Boys and Girls’, 1982 [repr. Richard Deacon Sculpture, exh. cat., Orchard Gallery, Londonderry 1983, front cover in col.] and ‘Art for Other People #2’, 1982 [repr. Richard Deacon, exh. cat., Whitechapel Art Gallery, 1989 [p.26] in col.] have strongly patterned vinyl surfaces, as does ‘Back of My Hand #1’, 1986 [repr. Richard Deacon, exh. cat., Bonnefantenmuseum Maastricht, 1987, fig.18 in col.]’. In P77254 concentric curved lines define the contour of a biomorphic ear-like shape. This motif relates to Deacon's sculptures which employ laminated wood, for example, ‘Untitled’, 1987 (repr. ibid., [p.52–3]). In P 77255 a solid black biomorphic shape occupies the centre of the image.

P77252-P77255 were the first prints Deacon had made since leaving art school. Margarete Roeder, an old friend and publisher of the portfolio, had suggested the project to the artist, who was interested in making prints again. Deacon worked on the images at Peter Kneubühler's print studio in Zürich. Deacon has described Kneubühler as ‘an exceptional printer’ (letter to the compiler, 1 October 1994). In reply to a questionnaire from the compiler, Deacon wrote on 11 July 1993, ‘I began to work on the plates on 29 June’. When asked whether or not a drawing reproduced on the private view card for the exhibition Richard Deacon: Prints and Drawings held at the Lisson Gallery, in early 1988 was a preparatory drawing for the ‘Muzot’ portfolio the artist replied, ‘The drawing on the Lisson Gallery card comes from a notebook drawing executed at the time I arrived at Peter Kneubühler's to work on the plates’. This drawing consists of two vertical strips, each divided into three compartments. Each of the six partitions contains the following biomorphic shapes: top left contains an ear-like form similar to that in P77254 but inverted and reversed; top centre contains a form which relates to the space contained within the ear-like shape of the above-mentioned drawing; top right is similar to the biomorphic shape in P77255; at bottom left, the shape refers to the ear-like form in P77254 and has the same orientation; bottom centre closely relates to the upended U-shape in P 77253 and at bottom right the image is similar to the biomorphic shape in P77255. According to Margarete Roeder Gallery's documentation sheet, the trial proofs for P77252-P77255 were completed on 10 July 1987 and the prints were signed in the following September.

The title of the prints refers to the Château de Muzot, a small castle near Raron in Switzerland. The Austro-German poet Rainer Maria Rilke spent much of the last seven years of his life in Switzerland and in 1922 wrote Sonnets to Orpheus while staying at the Château de Muzot. This collection of fifty-five poems was the inspiration for a number of Deacon's works executed between 1979 and 1987, including the drawing ‘It's Orpheus when there's singing #7’, 1978–9 (T04859, see earlier entry in this volume for a discussion of Deacon's interest in Rilke) and the sculpture ‘For Those Who Have Ears, No.2’, 1983 (T03958, repr. Tate Gallery Acquisitions 1984 – 6, 1988, p.132). Deacon explained the relationship between these earlier works and the ‘Muzot’ portfolio (letter to the compiler, 11 July 1993):

The prints hark back, particularly Muzot 1, to my drawings ‘It's Orpheus when there's singing’ but they are also slightly elegiac in tone. There is for example a sense of absence in M2 and M4 could be said to be switched off. Muzot seemed a natural title; I was in Switzerland, Muzot was the place where Sonnets to Orpheus was written and where Rilke died; my interest in Rilke's poetry was coming to an end. In some senses the prints are a fond farewell.

Deacon explained that the ordering of the prints was based on aesthetic reasons and was not sequential:

The sequence of numbers is not the sequence in which the plates were made - in fact it is reversed 4,3,2,1, though there were overlaps. The Lisson Gallery drawing may well have been to do with sorting out sequence. I don't believe that the plates influenced each other very much. I worked directly on the plates. M3 and M4 are made from shaped plates which I cut. This was a decision I'd made before starting at Kneubühler's. The way I wanted to use the shaped plates was to print on a surface in such a way as to produce something that was combined differently from image on a support, more like an object. The wood grain toile cirée which I brought with me from London seemed ideal for the purpose.

Deacon added (letter to the compiler, 1 October 1994):

10 years previously the last prints I had made were linocuts using shaped pieces. This was partly based on a misunderstanding of the wood block process, and enabled several colours to be printed, at once. Cutting the copper plate was a natural extension of that and a continuation of studio work involving cut sheet metal: Toile cirée I had not used before, but I brought it to the printing on the first day as a possible ground. Kneubühler had printed some of Judd's woodblocks and I was interested in their surface. The toile cirée had a surface that was material and, because of the shaped plates, put the ground and the image on a more equal footing.

This entry has been approved by the artist.

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


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