Barry Martin

Movement Collage


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Barry Martin born 1943
Printed papers and ink on paper
Support: 233 × 201 mm
Presented anonymously 2002


This early collage demonstrates Martin’s engagement with representations of movement. The various collaged elements are found images from magazines. A torn piece of blue paper covers the centre of the composition and images radiate from the centre.

Viewed clockwise from the top right hand corner is a man in a business suit and hat clutching a slim dossier of papers who turns to wave. He is flanked by a girl and boy, both in school uniforms, who also wave to the viewer. The name of the product this family group is advertising is obscured by tears in the paper and additional fragments collaged on top. Below this, the bottom right of the collage contains images of one of the spacecrafts from the television series Thunderbirds and the cropped wing of an airplane. The nose of another airplane is visible in the bottom left corner. Above it is an illustration of the interior of a boat cabin or camper van, complete with colourfully cushioned seating area and cups of tea on the counter top. This image is positioned so that its sharp perspective leads the eye into the centre of the collage. Above it, in the top left hand corner, a footballer’s legs are visible; his right leg is raised to kick a ball.

All the individual elements of the collage represent types and speeds of movement, human and mechanical. The ripped shape of the blue paper suggests the dramatic motion of tearing. The disparate angles of the various found images give the composition a dynamic movement of its own. The viewer’s eye is drawn first one way, then another, around the images in the picture.

In its use of found imagery, including advertisements, Movement Collage reveals the influence of British Pop Art and particularly collages by Richard Hamilton (born 1922) such as Interior, 1964-5 (Tate P04250). The dense, all over composition and layering of Martin’s work also recalls the work of Nouveau Réaliste artist Jacques Villeglé (born 1926), who used torn street posters in his affichist works (see Jazzmen, 1961, Tate T07619). Like Hamilton and Villeglé, Martin exploited the sculptural potential of two-dimensional media. He has described his work of the early 1960s, saying: ‘I already considered the painted surface to be an objective force in itself – a physical factor, already a piece of sculpture, already with its depth away from the wall’ (Martin, p.7). The three-dimensionality of collage signals an intermediate step between Martin’s early painting and printmaking and the mechanical sculptures he began making around the same time as this work.

Further reading:
Barry Martin, exhibition catalogue, Galerija Rigo, Novigrad-Cittanova, Croatia, 2003.
Barry Martin, Light & Movement: Paintings & Sculpture 1960-1974, London: Hilstone Press, 1984.

Rachel Taylor
October 2003

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