Michael Craig-Martin: Transience

Serpentine Gallery

25 Nov 2015 to 14 Feb 2016

Michael Craig-Martin: Transience

This winter, the Serpentine presented an exhibition by Michael Craig-Martin, one of the best-known British artists of his generation. This was the first solo show of Craig-Martin’s work in a London public institution since 1989.

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This exhibition by Michael Craig-Martin (b. Dublin, 1941) brought together works from 1981 to 2015, including his era-defining representations of once familiar yet obsolete technology; laptops, games consoles, black-and-white televisions and incandescent lightbulbs that highlighted the increasing transience of technological innovation. The exhibition also featured new wallpaper that had been conceived especially for the exhibition.

From the earliest work in the show, a wall drawing first produced in 1981 (the same year that the first personal computer was made available), to a painting from 2014 that depicts the minimal lines of an iPhone, Craig-Martin’s work has recorded the profound impact that electronic technology has had on the way we consume and communicate. The exhibition explored the seismic shift from analogue processes to digital technologies that informed the production and distribution of new kinds of objects in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

Craig-Martin's early works explore the conceptual possibilities of contemporary art, testing the boundaries between functional and functionless forms. The introduction of digital technology in recent years has resulted in the breakdown of the relationship between form and function, a process that Craig-Martin captures in his depictions of successive inventions, from the battery to the cassette to the laptop.  

As Marshall McLuhan wrote in his seminal book Understanding Media, which Craig-Martin read shortly after it was first published in 1964, ‘technical change alters not only habits of life, but patterns of thought and valuation’. Craig-Martin’s work holds up a mirror to these alterations, reminding us that we are as much produced by the objects we invent as they are by us.

Lightbulb (magenta) 2015 is a sculpture by Michael Craig-Martin, produced on the occasion of the exhibition Transience at the Serpentine Gallery. Based on a drawing, it suggests a three-dimensional object but is almost completely flat. Craig-Martin's selection of this everyday object draws attention to its design, while its bright colour contrasted with the natural landscape of Kensington Gardens, reminding us of the heat of a ‘real’ incandescent bulb. Like several other objects depicted in the exhibition, the incandescent bulb typified an invention that has been superseded by new technologies.

Michael Craig-Martin also created a digital artwork, Lightbulbfor the Serpentine Galleries on the occasion of his exhibition. It is a drawing with six coloured elements, controlled by a software algorithm. Save your own lightbulb image to your mobile or computer: http://mcmlightbulb.serpentinegalleries.org/

Craig-Martin has participated in a number of Serpentine events and group exhibitions: Memory Marathon (2012); Map Marathon (2011), Wall to Wall (1994), Here and Now: Twenty-three years of the Serpentine Gallery (1993); Objects for the Ideal Home: The Legacy of Pop Art (1991); Vessel: Sculpture, Glass, Ceramics (1987); Summer Show 5 (1976, as selector) and Art as Thought Process (1974). He also produced a new map, linking the Serpentine’s two buildings, to celebrate the opening of the Serpentine Sackler Gallery in 2013.

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Exhibition

Simon Denny: Products for Organising

25 Nov 2015 to 14 Feb 2016

The Serpentine presented the work of Simon Denny, an artist who works with sculptural installations that include print, graphics, moving images and texts. The first solo show of Denny's work in London, Products for Organising, was developed in response to the Serpentine Sackler Gallery and featured new installations that revolved around contemporary radical management practices and the historical hacker organisational forms that may have inspired them.

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Goethe-Institut

Public Talk: Michael Craig-Martin in conversation with Richard Sennett and Hans Ulrich Obrist

16 Dec 2015 - 7:00 PM

On the occasion of his exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery, Transience, artist Michael Craig-Martin discussed his practice and transformations in design and technology with professor and author Richard Sennett and Serpentine Co-Director, Hans Ulrich Obrist at the Goethe-Institut.

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Michael Craig-Martin: Transience Film

Thursday, 10th December 2015

Michael Craig-Martin in conversation with Hans Ulrich Obrist at the 2010 Map Marathon

Thursday, 22nd October 2015
Michael Craig-Martin: Transience - installation image 4

Michael Craig-Martin: Transience - installation image 4

Michael Craig-Martin: Transience; Installation view; Serpentine Gallery, 25 November 2015 – 14 February 2016

Michael Craig-Martin: Transience - Biding Time (Magenta)

Michael Craig-Martin

Biding Time (magenta), 2004

Acrylic on aluminium panel 243.8 x 182.9cm

Courtesy of Gagosian Gallery

Michael Craig-Martin: Transience - installation image 3

Michael Craig-Martin: Transience - installation image 3

Michael Craig-Martin: Transience; Installation view; Serpentine Gallery, 25 November 2015 – 14 February 2016

Michael Craig-Martin: Transience - Untitled (headphones)

Michael Craig-Martin

Untitled (headphones medium), 2014

Acrylic on aluminium 122 x 122cm

Photo: Mike Bruce

Courtesy of Gagosian Gallery

Michael Craig-Martin: Transience - installation image 1

Michael Craig-Martin: Transience - installation image 1

Michael Craig-Martin: Transience; Installation view; Serpentine Gallery, 25 November 2015 – 14 February 2016

Michael Craig-Martin: Transience - Untitled (battery)

Michael Craig-Martin

Untitled (battery), 2014

Acrylic on aluminium 122 x 122 cm

Photo: Mike Bruce

Courtesy of Gagosian Gallery

Michael Craig-Martin: Transience - installation image 5

Michael Craig-Martin: Transience - installation image 5

Michael Craig-Martin: Transience; Installation view; Serpentine Gallery, 25 November 2015 – 14 February 2016

Michael Craig-Martin: Transience - Untitled (light bulb)

Michael Craig-Martin

Untitled (light bulb), 2014

Acrylic on aluminium 122 x 122cm