Dóra Maurer

Stage II

2016

Not on display

Artist
Dóra Maurer born 1937
Medium
Acrylic paint on PVC panels
Dimensions
Overall: 2180 × 5565 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Presented by anonymous donors 2018
Reference
T15449

Summary

Stage II 2016 is an abstract, acrylic painting on PVC in five separate parts, two of which are partially overlaid on top of two of the other parts during installation. The overall dimensions of the work are two metres by six metres. The elements from left to right are three irregularly-shaped vertical rectangles in turquoise, blue and orange respectively, and two curving, bridge-like forms in red. The central blue form partially overlaps the turquoise form to its left, while the orange form is set at an angle and slightly overlaps the larger of the curving red form to its right. The overall effect is one of movement and the work continues Maurer’s earlier explorations into how geometric forms are affected by colour and colour perception, as well as their position and orientation in space.

The overlapping elements in Stage II have been painted so as to give the illusion of transparency, with the underlying forms appearing to show through and affecting the colour of those on top. This sense of layering and intersecting shapes, as well as their irregular forms and dynamic placement on the wall, lends the work a three-dimensional presence and a feeling of movement. In Maurer’s view, the overall effect is of a stage on which characters are performing, hence the work’s title:

This impression of movement is important for me. Rhythm and movement stand for life, for change, or imply at least the possibility of change. Which is why asymmetry is important to me as a design tool, because it injects life into the picture and stands for vitality. I could never have kept on using the same old shapes and putting them in rows. I can’t be that lacking in humour, I’d find it much too boring.
(Quoted in Dóra Maurer Snap-Shots, exhibition catalogue, Museum Ritter, Waldenbuch 2014, p.59.)

Colour and mathematical relationships had been at the heart of Maurer’s practice since the 1970s when she developed her series of ‘displacements’ – works in which she used grids to explore the variations made possible by often minimal shifts in colour or form (see Displacements [System Drawing] 1972, Tate T15450, and Displacements, Step 18 with Two Random-Quasi-Images 1976, Tate T15451). Her interest lay in seeing how something that is displaced appears in a new form or pattern and the transformation that necessarily takes place. Motion has always been linked in her practice with change (including existential change) – whether materials (drying), natural phenomena (wind), changes of place (falling, walking) or gestures (destruction) – and later with minimal displacements such as shifting a band of colour on a plane. In 1982 she created the painted environmental work Space Painting Quasi-Image Buchberg Project, an illusory spatial arrangement of overlapping and intersecting lines for the twelfth-century tower room of Buchberg Castle (Schloss Buchberg) in Austria. In 1983 she produced a film based on the filmed documentation of the painting this environment, Space Painting, Buchberg 1983 (Tate T15453). The filming of the Bauchberg project highlighted to Maurer the changing relationship between colour and light, revealing to her that colour sensitivity is time-based. While trying to film the various phases of the work using a small Super-8 camera, she found that she repeatedly had to switch colour filters as the day progressed and the light conditions changed. The work opened up new possibilities to move away from her use of standard colours without completely abandoning her system. It also gave her the experience of the affinity between the walls of a space and the essentially flat, frontal forms that could be ‘pulled over’ their surface. The idea of projection as an alternative way of transforming colour, light and space also occurred to Maurer during this project. From the second half of the 1980s, this notion led to the perspectival and projected Quasi-images and then to her use of painted PVC as seen in Stage II.

Further reading
Dieter Ronte and László Beke (eds.), Dóra Maurer, Works 1970–1993, Budapest 1994, reproduced pp.109, 121, 126–9.
Dóra Maurer, exhibition catalogue, Ludwig Museum, Budapest 2008, pp.9–10.
Dóra Maurer, Traces 1970–1980, exhibition catalogue, Bunkier Sztuki, Krákow 2011, reproduced pp.51, 57, 80–81.

Juliet Bingham
April 2018

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