Tony DeLap

Modern Times II


Not on display

Tony DeLap born 1927
Object: 362 × 610 × 318 mm
Presented anonymously through the American Federation of Arts 1967

Catalogue entry

Tony DeLap born 1927

T00909 Modern Times II 1966

Inscribed 'Tony DeLap 1966' on one end
Acrylic plastic and lacquer, 14 1/4 x 24 x 12 1/2 (36 x 61 x 32)
Presented anonymously through the American Federation of Arts 1967
Prov: From the artist to private collector, Los Angeles
Lit: John Coplans, introduction to exh. catalogue Tony DeLap, Felix Landau Gallery, Los Angeles, April-May 1966 (first edition in aluminium repr. in colour); Alan Solomon, 'Tony DeLap' in exh. catalogue Tony DeLap: The Last Five Years 1963-1968, Art Gallery, University of California, Irvine, January-March 1969 (first edition in aluminium repr.), pp.13-14

Like several of DeLap's other sculptures of this period, this work is anaxial, that is to say without any sense of top or bottom, front or back, or sides. It can not only be placed in four different positions, but combined with one or more other pieces to form a more complex unit in which the positions of each part can be varied at will. As John Coplans has written: 'Thus he has set up a complex situation with infinite variables somewhat similar to that of musical compositions by Cage or Stockhausen.'

The first version of 'Modern Times' was in aluminium and baked epoxy enamel in a projected edition of six, and was made in 1966 as part of a group consisting of one single piece 'Modern Times' and two pairs, 'Triple Trouble', in two parts, and 'Tango Tangles', in two parts. The five pieces were all in different colours, respectively blue, yellow/silver and red/silver, and were meant to be arranged at will in any suitable grouping.

The Tate's sculpture comes from a second series which followed the first, but was made in lacquered acrylic. This series consisted of seven pieces: 'Modern Times II', 'Triple Trouble II', in two parts, 'Tango Tangles II', in two parts, and a further pair 'Mabel at the Wheel' in two parts. 'Modern Times II' is the same size and shape as the first version. It was planned to be in an edition of six, but only three were completed: the Tate's blue one, a green one, and a silver one.

Then later in 1966 the artist made yet a third version as part of a series three times the size of the I and II series. This consisted of 'Modern Times III' in dark metallic brown, 'Triple Trouble III' (two parts) in dark metallic brown, and 'Tango Tangles III' (two parts) in silver. Only one set was made on this scale, in wood, fibreglass and acrylic lacquer.

The artist has written of the titles (letter of 24 May 1973): 'I have long been a fan of the films of Charlie Chaplin. When I first prepared the series of sculptures, they seemed to have many of the characteristics of his films: the pieces are serial in nature, the interval is important, they can achieve multiple positioning, and seem to have some quality of humor. These are some of the reasons I named the pieces after some of the Chaplin films.'

Published in:
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, pp.157-8, reproduced p.157


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