Ciprian Muresan

All Images from Elaine Sturtevant Book

2014

Not on display

Artist
Ciprian Muresan born 1977
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 930 x 1420 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Presented anonymously 2015
Reference
T14498

Summary

All Images from Elaine Sturtevant Book 2014 is a large pencil drawing on paper. The Romanian artist Ciprian Muresan copied all of the reproductions from a monograph on the American conceptual artist Elaine Sturtevant onto a single sheet of paper, and the result is a montage of overlapping images which create apparently contradictory perspectives and depths. Muresan’s drawing adds another layer of reproduction to Sturtevant’s own reworkings or manual ‘repetitions’ (as she referred to them) of iconic works by mostly male twentieth-century artists. Sturtevant engaged with the legacies of pop art in her work, and within Muresan’s drawing a number of iconic works – such as Andy Warhol’s silkscreens of Marilyn Monroe, Jasper Johns’s flag paintings and the image of Sturtevant posing nude with Robert Rauschenberg as Adam and Eve, replicating a photograph that had featured Marcel Duchamp in 1924 – are superimposed, creating a dense tapestry of artistic references.

Sturtevant’s approach removed artworks from their original time and context in order to investigate their conceptual meaning and value and to question what makes a particular artwork from the past relevant in the present. Muresan adds a further layer to this questioning by reflecting on drawing as a mode of production and reproduction. His is a ‘double-appropriation’, resulting not only in layers of images but in layers of interpretation. His own copies are based on reproductions of Sturtevant’s work rather than the originals, and as he has commented, ‘Sturtevant technically knew how to copy the original work; I only copy the “shell”’ (from email correspondence with Tate curator Juliet Bingham, 3 January 2015). Curator and historian Mihnea Mircan has said of Muresan’s drawings: ‘Never employed as an instrument of direct notation, drawing functions for Muresan in equations that enfold this mode of production in a reflection on visibility and loss, on historical suspension and ways in which the past is retrieved or confabulated’ (in Mihai Pop (ed.), Ciprian Muresan: Drawings 2015–2004, Berlin 2015, unpaginated). Whereas the question of authorship was central to Sturtevant’s work, prefiguring the appropriation works of other American artists such as Richard Prince and Sherrie Levine in the 1980s, for Muresan – who was influenced by the works of John Cage – it is not necessarily the author or the mark of the artist that is important, but rather, in the case of these drawings, ‘repetition and addition, accumulation, while working and through work’. (Muresan in email correspondence with Bingham, 3 January 2015.)

All Images from Elaine Sturtevant Book is one of an ongoing series of drawings by Muresan based on artists’ monographs. In earlier drawings he appropriated illustrations from those on artists such as Agnes Martin, Kasimir Malevich, Giotto and Antonello da Messina. The series was prompted by a book in his possession on the Dutch conceptual and performance artist Bas Jan Ader (1942–1975) and the myth that Bas Jan Ader had drawn on the same piece of paper consistently for four years, each time erasing the previous drawing before beginning a new one. In his drawings Muresan does the opposite – rather than erasing, he accumulates all his images on a single page. This ongoing collation of reproductions relates to the artist’s limited access to Western art in communist Eastern Europe as a student. Separated across both time and geography, Muresan’s work can therefore be seen as way of connecting with these artists, as well as creating something new from their work. As he has commented: ‘There is this disconnect between ourselves, our present, and the history that we are supposed to digest.’ (Muresan in email correspondence with Bingham, 3 January 2015.)

Muresan’s diverse practice includes video (see, for example, Choose 2005, Tate T14845), sculpture, animation, installation and photography (see, for example, Leap into the Void, after Three Seconds 2004, Tate P20523). His work shares with other contemporary artists from Eastern and Southeast Europe an affinity for historical issues and a critical approach to ideology. Muresan’s practice is equally concerned with conceptual art, appropriation and the use of irony. Religion, childhood, post-communism, art, film and literary history are the subjects and references that Muresan translates into various media and formal languages, recombining and presenting them anew. Muresan’s practice reflects on the experience of history, the construction of individuality and the confrontation between the memory of the recently overturned communist utopia and the new reality of global capitalism. The work was included in the solo exhibition Ciprian Muresan - Your survival is guaranteed by treaty at the Ludwig Museum - Museum of Contemporary Art, Budapest, from 16 January to 22 March, 2015.

Further reading
Andrei State, ‘The Democratic Device’, in Alina Serban (ed.), The Seductiveness of the Interval: The Romanian Pavilion at the Fifty-third International Art Exhibition, exhibition catalogue, Venice Biennale, Venice 2009, pp.61–8, reproduced pp.62, 66.
Marius Babias (ed.), Ciprian Muresan, exhibition catalogue, Neuer Berliner Kunstverein, Berlin 2010, pp.171–3, reproduced p.175.
Emily Nathan, ‘Strange Days: An Interview with Ciprian Muresan’, Artnet, 20 July 2011, http://www.artnet.com/magazineus/features/nathan/ciprian-muresan-7-20-11.asp, accessed 30 January 2015.

Juliet Bingham
January 2015

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