Tom Phillips

Here We Exemplify


Not on display
Tom Phillips born 1937
Acrylic paint on canvas
Support: 1530 x 2570 mm
Purchased 1974

Catalogue entry


Inscribed, on back of canvas ‘Tom Phillips Here We Exemplify’ and on stretcher Tom Phillips 1968'

Acrylic on canvas, 60 1/4×108 1/4 (153×275)
Purchased from Mrs Jill Phillips (Grant-in-Aid) 1974

Coll: Mrs Jill Phillips, the artist's wife
Exh: Critics Choice 1970 Selection by Norbert Lynton, Arthur Tooth and Sons Ltd., February 1970 (17, wrongly dated 1968–9); Tom Phillips Paintings &c MCMLXV-LXXI, Dartington Arts Society, Dartington, Devon, June 1971 and subsequent tour by Arnolfini Gallery, Bristol, and Welsh Arts Council Gallery, Cardiff (no catalogue); Tom Phillips, Angela Flowers Gallery, September–October 1971 (no catalogue)

Tom Phillips told the compiler (7 May 1975) that the picture consists only of the title which describes how the work was executed. The full title is ‘Here We Exemplify the Perseverative, Additive and Subtractive Modes. Thesis as Object and Artwork as Residue of Process’.

The artist drew out the title in pencil on canvas horizontally several times using 4 inch stencils until the canvas was covered. The procedure was then repeated twice using first 3 inch and then 2 inch stencils. Consequently the smaller size of stencil used the greater number of times the title was written out. Parts of letters which did not overlie parts of other letters were erased.

A different colour coding was given to each of the possible combination of parts of letters overlying parts of other letters. The possible combinations were:

1. medium sized letters over large letters

2. small letters over large letters

3. small letters over medium letters

4. small letters over medium and large letters.

Each of the four possible combinations was painted a different colour using mixed paints. Every twelve inches the top edge of the stencilled letters coincided. Thus the painting was divided into bands. When the artist started painting a new band he remixed the paints from memory without matching them.

The artist painted a second version of the painting which he described as being ‘quite different’ from T01938. The same procedure and words were also used in the lower half of a painting by Phillips belonging to the Peter Moores Foundation. The artist also executed a variant by the same procedures using the words ‘The Message Digests Itself’ on a small canvas c.18×24 in.

This catalogue entry and that for T01933 have been approved by the artist.

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1974-6: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1978

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