Thérèse Oulton



In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Thérèse Oulton born 1953
Monotype on paper
Image: 760 × 570 mm
Presented by Garner H. Tullis and Pamela Auchincloss 1988

Catalogue entry

P11198 Untitled 1987

Monotype in oil paint 760 × 570 (30 × 22 1/2) on heavy handmade paper, same size; printed by Garner Tullis at Garner Tullis Workshop, Santa Barbara
Inscribed ‘Thérèse Oulton’ b.r.
Presented by Garner H. Tullis and Pamela Auchincloss 1988
Lit: Phyllis Plous, ‘Monotype Today’, in Collaborations in Monotype, exh. cat., University Art Museum, Santa Barbara 1988, pp.16, 21, 42; David Cohen, ‘Thérèse Oulton's Printmaking’, Print Quarterly, vol.6, no.4, Dec. 1989, pp.421–39, fig.192

P11198 has a pronounced central division. In the area to the right the paint has been harshly worked with etcher's scrim, allowing areas of white paper to show through. By contrast, the area to the left has a rich pattern made up of discrete brushstrokes in a range of colours, including russet, red, orange, green, blue, grey, brown and black. A different type of patterning, with different qualities of brushstrokes, fills the lower third of the image.

This monotype was made towards the end of Oulton's fortnight of working at the Garner Tullis Workshop in Santa Barbara in February 1987 (for details, see previous entry on P11197). During the greater part of her period there she had used a direct press, but in the last few days she experimented with offset printing. In all, four or five prints, including P11198, were produced using an offset press (see, for example, ‘Untitled’, 1987, repr. Santa Barbara exh. cat., 1988, p.43 in col.).

Like P11197, P11198 was developed from earlier work. In 1985–6 Oulton stayed in Vienna and exhibited there a series of works in which she developed particular aspects of the compositions and use of paint found in the work of such painters as Caravaggio and Rubens. One of these, ‘Taking Sides’, 1986 (repr. Thérèse Oulton, exh. cat., Galerie Krinzinger, Vienna 1986, pl.VII in col.) was the inspiration for P11198 (its title, according to the artist, refers to ‘the impossibility of taking sides’). Like P11198, the painting is also bisected vertically, and in conversation with the compiler on 24 February 1994, Oulton explained that to divide a work down the middle or diagonally, rather than, say, using the proportions of the Golden Section, was expressly ‘anti-classical’. It was a compositional strategy that sprang directly from her study of the asymmetrical structures of Mannerist and Baroque art.

When working on her monoprints, Oulton called on her memories of past work. However, she could not use the textural qualities of paint that had been central to the way in which she conveyed the qualities of, say, glass or flesh, in her oil paintings. In conversation she explained, ‘Oil paint has described for so long, that that is what it does. You put oil paint down and it is already descriptive. Oil paint on paper and imprinted at enormous pressure is not tactile like that’. In P11198 she felt she had ‘chickened out’, and relied on ‘bits of imagery left or memories of works’. The oval shape at the bottom left of the print, for example, was probably a ‘remnant of a mirror or a glass’. P11198 was not, she felt, one of the more successful prints of its type.

The artist has approved this entry.

Published in:
Tate Gallery: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions 1986-88, London 1996

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