Dóra Maurer

Seven Foldings

1975, published 1978

Not on display

Dóra Maurer born 1937
Drypoint on paper
Image: 578 × 400 mm
support: 701 × 500 mm
Purchased 1985

Catalogue entry

Dóra Maurer born 1937

P77124 Seven Foldings 1975, pub. 1978

Drypoint 578 x 400 (22 3/4 x 15 3/4) on Zerkal Büttenpapier 703 x 503 (27 5/8 x 19 3/4); plate-mark 703 x 503 (27 5/8 x 19 3/4); printed by the artist and published by Griffelkunst Editions, Hamburg; unlimited edition
Inscribed ‘Maurer 1975' below image b.r., ‘E.d'A' below image bottom centre and ‘Lemezhajtas' below image b.l.
Purchased from the artist (Grant-in-Aid) 1985

This entry is based on letters from the artist dated 20 January and 14 February 1988 except where otherwise stated.

Trained as a graphic artist, Maurer worked almost exclusively in the field of print-making in the period 1957-68 during which she experimented with unorthodox methods of etching. In the late 1960s she became interested in the representation of actions and motions, and made a number of short films. She writes that in her graphic work she approached the theme of recording actions over a period of time in two distinct ways:

The one was connected with traces, paths of human and animal processes in physical and mental behaviour/aspects ... The other method was more formal, more ‘graphic': it came out of the idea that the graphic plate should no longer carry the image on its surface passively, serving only the multiplication of a picture, but it should be the object of actions in continuous change.

Following this second approach, Maurer developed a number of new techniques. She took prints from the damaged surfaces of plates she had let fall to the ground. She also experimented with dropping acid onto the plate, documenting the process with a series of photographs. In a letter to the compiler Maurer described these steps as ‘vehement actions'. She later sought to articulate the process of change in a more ‘geometric way', using ‘minimal gestures'. She cut into the plate or folded it and then took ‘phase-prints' of each of the stages. In making P77124, Maurer folded the plate seven times before taking any prints, but the idea of the passage of the time taken to produce the foldings is still implicit in the image, or, in the artist's words, may be ‘imposed' upon it. She did not, therefore, intend it to record the process of its making as directly as other related works of the period.

The origins of the idea of displacement through folding lie in ‘Earmarks', an artist's book of ten pages Maurer published in 1974. In this she folded the top right-hand edge of the metal plates diagonally, in the manner of someone bending the corner of a page to mark his or her place in a book and, taking a print of each stage, folded the plate completely. She writes that the foldings were random rather than exact. She explored this theme in other media including a 16mm experimental film called ‘Timing', made in the period 1973-80, which shows a canvas being folded seven times (see Maurer Dóra: Munkàk/Arbeiten 1958-1983, exh. cat., Ernst Múzeum, Budapest, Museum Moderner Kunst, Vienna 1984, p.17).

In 1974 Maurer made a series of paintings combined with pieces of coloured glass called ‘Shifts'. In the following year she made a series of wooden squares or rectangles made up of separate, diagonally oriented slats, either randomly or progressively moved out of their geometric alignment. Closely related to these objects were a number of drawings and prints in which the outline form of the folded plate was left blank or filled with a network of lines. ‘Seven Foldings' differs from these other prints in its strong textural quality. Maurer roughened the plate surface by rubbing it with emery paper in order, she writes, ‘to give the surface a heavy object- character'.

With the sequence of seven foldings and the progressive displacement of the rectangle, Maurer sought in this print to present a systematised record of a process of change in time and space. Marta Kovalovsky has written that, in such works, Maurer

discloses no final result but a process ... The basic situation and its ‘displaced' variant are in a dialectical interaction with one another: neither of them can be viewed isolated, only in connection with the other, in the qualitatively new relationship resulting from the interaction.

At the same time, the idea of change is rooted in experience of reality. ‘We are living in time and space', Kovalovsky explained, ‘so we are also ‘displaced' every day. By changing our own position in time and space we change that of other phenomena or objects as well, bringing about a ‘displacement'. Kovalovsky noted a further aspect of this theme: in Hungarian there is a figurative meaning of the verb to displace, that is, to blunder or mess up, ‘a meaning that is not alien to the spirit of Maurer's work' (Gáyor/Maurer, exh. cat., Istvan Király Muzeum, Székesfehérvár, 1976, pp.2-3).

Commenting on the development of her work in the 1970s, Maurer writes, ‘Since about 1972 I have used simple geometric forms and mathematical relations working in series. My intention is to suggest a method of thinking and of being ... I try to find a way to keep a live contact with the world'.

This entry has been approved by the artist.

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1984-86: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions Including Supplement to Catalogue of Acquisitions 1982-84, Tate Gallery, London 1988, pp.417-8

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