Amikam Toren

Urban Landscape Exchange (20 Warwick Av. London W9)


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Amikam Toren born 1945
Masking tape, acrylic paint, plaster and graphite on paper
Support: 275 × 410 mm
Presented by the Estate of Thomas Frangenberg 2019


Urban Landscape Exchange (20 Warwick Av. London W9) 1974 is a small work by Amikam Toren in which a piece of masking tape with flakes of dried paint attached to it is displayed above the caption ‘20 Warwick Av. London W9’. Toren used the adhesive tape to gather fragments of the built environment at the location given in the caption, literally creating a piece of landscape art from the material of the urban landscape itself. This notion of ‘exchange’ described in the title of the work exemplifies the conceptual foundation of Toren’s practice, in which the material subjects of his work are transformed but effectively unchanged (making a still life painting from the materials of the still life or, as here, a landscape from the actual fabric of the landscape). Beyond being the site where the materials were gathered, the address in this work had no special significance for the artist. It was one of a number of similar domestic locations, mostly around West London, Camden or Kentish Town, chosen at random by the artist for similar works.

The historian Richard Dyer pointed out that this ‘“museumification of the utilitarian”, this transformation of the lowly object into high art … will be a recurring theme in Toren’s art’ (Dyer 2005, p.155). Similarly, it lies behind works such as neither a painting nor a statue 1979 (Tate T15438), in which Toren made a still-life painting from the materials of the still life itself, or his extensive series of paintings known as Of the Times, in which he painted letters in a ‘paint’ produced by pulping an entire copy of The Times newspaper (see, for example, Of the Times, 7th October 1983 1983 (Tate T15439).

Urban Landscape Exchange (20 Warwick Av. London W9) was formerly in the collection of Thomas Frangenberg (1958–2018), a historian of renaissance art but also a passionate collector of contemporary art since the late 1970s. The focus of this collection was artists who work within the traditions of conceptual art and the majority of works were acquired direct from the artists, often early in their careers.

Further reading
Richard Dyer, ‘Ceci n’est pas un tableau: The Work of Amikam Toren’, in Third Text, vol.19, issue 2, March 2005.

Helen Delaney and Andrew Wilson
January 2019

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