Curator's Choice: Eleanor Clayton on Mary Martin's Inversions at Tate Liverpool

| 24 September 2013

Curator’s Choice: Eleanor Clayton, from Tate Liverpool, on Mary Martin's Inversions...

"A year after the completion of the monumental Inversions which is currently on display, Mary Martin wrote about the ‘space which lies between the surface and the highest point’ of the relief as ‘a sphere of play, or conflict, between opposites’.

Literally referring to the flatness of the black covered planes opposing the metallic forms emerging from the work, more generally this conflict or play arises from testing the boundary between an artwork and the world around it.

In Inversions, the angled reflective units push outwards from the work into the external world. The reflective metallic material offers a further way of merging the work with its surroundings.

Martin buffed the metal so that the reflections were softer and less dominant, but the viewer is still confronted with a splintered version of their environs; objects, people and, at Tate Liverpool now, other artworks from cubist still life to contemporary photography.

This blurs further the border at which Martin’s artwork ends and the world begins. Seeing Inversions offers visual experience of other elements outside of the work.

Displaying Inversions alongside Picasso’s Bowl of Fruit, Violin and Bottle, 1913, gives an almost sci-fi, 1960s slant to the ideas of perception behind cubism, offering a new connection between artworks across decades and geography characteristic of the Constellations displays.

Standing in front of the piece you see not only these external objects and people, but also yourself. Your body is reflected back to you alongside a kaleidoscopic view of the world through the reflected splintered images."

  • DLA Piper Series: Constellations is at Tate Liverpool until Summer 2014.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

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