Colour and Metal

Submitting Institution

Bath Spa University

Unit of Assessment

Art and Design: History, Practice and Theory

Summary Impact Type


Research Subject Area(s)

Studies In Creative Arts and Writing: Art Theory and Criticism
History and Archaeology: Curatorial and Related Studies, Historical Studies

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Summary of the impact

The Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery in Exeter was completely redeveloped 2007-2011. Lalic was commissioned to make and permanently install three paintings related to her extensive Colour and Metal group for negotiated sites integral to the remodelled building. Through these paintings the large audience at RAMM, and beyond, gained an understanding of the relationship between the site, colour, pigment and metal. This includes an understanding of innovations in contemporary painting, of how painting might relate to the environment, an awareness of landscape as having a material history, of the development and significance of this extensive series of works and, in the Museum, the relation between the works by Lalic and other works in the collections and on exhibition.

Underpinning research

Lalic (appointed 1981, Reader 1996, Professor of Painting 1998) has been working with metals as a source of pigments for artists colours since 1987, when she completed her first works that juxtaposed panels of metal with monochrome panels painted with named artists oil colours, the pigment of which derives from the metal, for example White Lead, Chrome Green.

In 1994, Lalic began working with landscape, collecting soil samples in Italy, then testing various ways of structuring the idea in the studio, establishing methods now used for all her Landscape Paintings, including extensive museum research for the identification of extant landscape paintings. This research was the subject of an AHRB funded sabbatical (1/10/2003-1/6/2004). The first work completed was Paris Blue Landscape Painting. 2004. (The Bridge at Courbevoire. Seurat.1886-87).

A third strand of Lalic's work explores the relationship between pigments, schemes of organisation of artists colours, and genres of painting resulting in a large group of History Paintings based on the developing availability of artists' pigments over periods of time.

Between 2007 and 2011, the Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery was extended and re-modelled by Allies and Morrison. Lalic was commissioned (fully funded by Arts Council England) to make three works for permanent installation in locations discussed and negotiated with the architects during the planning of the development. These were the three latest works in the Colour and Metal group. The paintings use the ten artists colours derived from lead, two from aluminium and one from tin. South West England is known for its metal ore deposits, and in Exeter the three works are installed so that when looking at the painting Lead and Ten Colours, you are facing North-West toward the lead deposits on the Mendip Hills; when looking at Aluminium and Two Colours you are facing North-West in the direction of deposits of Waverlite, an aluminium ore; and with Tin and One Colour you are facing South-West toward Cornwall and its tin mines.

Since 2004, the Contemporary Art Research Centre at BSAD developed a focus on the topic of landscape in its widest sense. Critical Topologies of Landscape, Art and the Politics of Space (2007) was a symposium led by Whittaker and Alex Landrum followed by the book Nonsite to Celebration Park (2007, ISBN 978-1-905200-72-6), a second symposium Art after Architecture (2009), and a second book Painting with Architecture in Mind (2012, Wunderkammer Press ISBN 9780956646217). Other research in the Centre includes the extension of the Romantic landscape in the work of Neudecker, the landscape-based paintings of Woods and the military camouflage paintings of Snell. Vaughan's research into environment and industrialisation and human impact on the environment has commonality with the research of Neudecker and Snell. Tania Kovats undertook research projects sponsored by the School including Meadow in 2006 (Lund Humphries, 2010, ISBN 978-1-84822-078-2); and Cockayne worked with Phillip Hoare on Moby Dick. The Big Read, an online project with a total of 270 participants and c3million downloads as well as other projects relating to natural history and public, architecturally sited sculpture in collaboration with Robert Fearns.

References to the research

1) Lalić, M. (2009) The History Paintings: solo exhibition. Madison Contemporary Art, London, UK. 18 March — 18 April 2009. [Exhibitions and Performances] Number of works: 8

2) Lalić, M. (2011) Colour and Metal: three commissioned paintings. Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery, Exeter, UK. 2011. [Physical Artefacts]

3) Lalić, M. (2011). Maria Lalić: Landscape Paintings (solo exhibition). Galerie Renate Bender, Munich, Germany. 30 June — 30 July 2011. [Exhibitions and Performances]

4) Lalić M. (2013). Lapislazuli & Purpur. How Color Came to Us. Galerie Renate Bender, Munich,Germany. 13 September — 26 October 2013. Co-authors: Koehler, B., McClune, M., Zeniuk, J. [Exhibitions and Performances]

5) Lalić M., Lead Fall — Chrome Yellow (1991), Lead Fall Paintings (a subgroup of the Colour and Metal Paintings), Arts Council of England Collection. [Physical Artefacts]

6) Lalić M., Six paintings from the History Painting series presented by the Patrons of New Art (Special Purchase Fund) through the Tate Gallery Foundation ( 1997). Tate Collection. [Physical Artefacts]

Details of the impact

In 2007, during the planning stage of the RAMM project, Lalic exhibited 12 Colour and Metal Paintings in the existing gallery there and gave a public talk about her painting practice and these works in particular, which commenced the process of achieving the cultural and artistic impact of the commission. The Museum closed for redevelopment after this exhibition. Lalic worked closely with the architects and the staff at RAMM on the locations and placement of the 240cm long works in specially constructed glazed `niches', set back in the wall. This was her first opportunity to site works in physical relation to the source of the materials from which they were made. The paintings were developed with the techniques, methods and awareness derived from the very extensive Colour and Metal group of paintings that comprise almost 100 works.

When RAMM re-opened in December 2011, the three new Colour and Metal paintings were in situ and on 26 January 2012 Lalic gave an illustrated public presentation and `walk and talk' about her practice and the making, locations and orientations of the works. The new pattern of circulation at RAMM means that all visitors who use one of two possible routes through the museum come into contact with the three Lalic works, positioned as they are in corridors and long view spaces in the main circulatory spine from the new (rear) entrance through to the original front (Queen Street) entrance. The works are well labelled with texts that explain the significance of their placement in relation to the orientation of the building and viewer.

In August 2012, RAMM (which has a strong natural history and minerals section) established and publicised a `Lalic Trail' through the museum and published a pamphlet `Maria Lalic artwork guide' which follows this route and extends public engagement and awareness with interesting connections between the paintings and parts of the Museum's collections. At the same time as Lalic's works were first public the new gallery was showing 'Into the Light, French and British painting from Impressionism to the early 1920s' (December 2011-March 2012). This presented a more conventional view of landscape in contrast to that of Lalic, and a different possibility for painting in relation to the environment and painting's history.

Since its redevelopment RAMM has enjoyed increased visitor numbers and associated economic impact. During its first month after re-opening on 15 December 2011 RAMM had 50,000 visitors, and 375,000 visitors in the period to 31 January 2013 (ref: annual report). A half-term workshop for children in February 2012 focused on Lalic's works. The children subsequently painted a multi-coloured panel on corrugated metal, c1.5m x 6m, now installed in the Museum café, joining other works by school groups exploring the Museum's exhibits, developing their awareness of the range of possibilities for art now. The exhibition of Lalic's three installed works was mentioned in the Guardian Guide on 17 December 2011 and identified as `pick of the week' exhibition on 7 January 2012. In June 2012, following the redevelopment by the architects Allies and Morrison, in which Lalic's work plays a significant part, and the complete reorganization of all displays, RAMM was named Museum of the Year and awarded the prestigious Art Fund Prize of £100,000. Subsequently in August 2012, RAMM received the seal of approval from the Visitor Attraction Quality Assurance Association service (VAQAS), Visit Britain's consumer - focused quality assessment of visitor attractions.

The creative and cultural impact of Lalic's longstanding research can be seen in the exhibition of other paintings from Colour and Metal group. The two Mirror Paintings: Chrome Mirror Painting — Cobalt Turquoise and Chrome Mirror Painting — Oxide of Chromium (both 1995, oil paint on canvas and chrome) were exhibited at Mead Carney, 45 Dover Street, London (2011) along with works by Damian Hirst, John Hoyland, Richard Long, Robert Longo, Richard Prince, Gerhardt Richter, Keith Tyson and Andy Warhol; and the previously un-exhibited Stretched Lead Squares (1992) was included in Lebendiges Grau 2 June to 18 August 2013 at Mies Van der Rohe Haus, Berlin — the second in a series of four shows, Hauptsache Grau 3 March 2013 to 2 February 2014) accompanied by a symposium held on 21 and 22 June 2013 and the subject of a forthcoming book. On 7 March 2013, Lalic lectured on her work, including the RAMM commission, at the Munich Academy in its `Jour Fixe' series, a lecture programme with the subject `Materiality of Paint and Paintings' on the centenary of the first lectures Max Doerner gave as Academy Professor. These lecture series are open to both the public and students, with previous lecturers including Daniel Buren, Martin Creed, Hans Haacke, Tino Seghal and Wolfgang Tillmans. Her works are included in major collections such as Deutsche Bank, Museum fur Koncrete Kunst, Germany, V&A, Tate Gallery, and Arts Council England.

Sources to corroborate the impact

1) Exhibition catalogue: de Ville, N., Maria Lalic, Todd Gallery, London. 1996. Exhibition with catalogue. ISBN 1-873043 11 2

`Lalic requires that we should not be arrested by the bravura decorative veneer which so often characterizes painting, but to reach beyond this to consider painting as a discourse codified — and re-codified — by its most basic substances and the lore of their usage. Although an initial description of Lalic's working process tends to be material-led, she is at pains to define her work as painting, and herself as a painter.'

2) Exhibition catalogue: Smith, A., Maria Lalic, The Lead Fall Paintings, Jensen Gallery, Wellington, New Zealand. 1997. Exhibition with catalogue. ISBN 0-473-04745-4

`As if wanting to cut through the tired rhetoric of colour in the history of painting, Lalic grounds her language of colour in an impersonal enumeration of pigments and virtually uniform methods of paint application. And as has often been the case in modernist painting, through relentless cutting back, a new form of impact is discovered.'

3) Book and exhibition: Fehr, M., Wurmfeld, S. (eds.) Seeing Red — On Nonobjective Painting and Colour Theory. Salon Verlag, Cologne. 2004. ISBN 10: 3-89770-194-4 ISBN 13: 9783897701946. Exhibition: Seeing Red International exhibition of non-objective painting, co-curated by Fehr, M., Ernst, K., Evertz, G. The exhibition was presented in three parts, Part I Pioneers of non-objective painting at The Bertha and Karl Leubsdorf Gallery and Part II Contemporary non-objective painting (including Lalic, Luz Becker, herman de vries) at Hunter College Art Galleries, Times Square, New York, USA, 12 March-26 April 2003. Part III: Symposium, 14-15 March 2003 at the Goethe Institute New York. The exhibition and book article place Lalic's activity within an extensive international field of painters.

4) Book: Fortnum, R., Contemporary British Women Artists: In their own words. I.B.Taurus. 2007. ISBN 1-84511-224-5. The 20 women interviewed in the book are internationally recognised artists selected by Fortnum to represent a diversity of practice and age, includes Tacita Dean, Jane Harris, Maria Chevska, Gillian Ayres, Vanessa Jackson, Maria Lalic, Hayley Newman, Sonia Boyce, Anya Gallaccio, Paula Rego, Lucy Gunning, Christine Borland, Claire Barclay, Tania Kovats, Jemima Stehli, Emma Kay, Tomoko Takahashi, Tracey Emin, Jananne Al-Ani and Runa Islam.

5) Exhibition catalogue. Fehr, M. Maria Lalic, Galerie Renate Bender , Munich. 2011. The first exhibition of the Landscape Paintings with catalogue essay by Fehr.

"it is not Maria Lalic's aim to reflect on the act of painting but to take an unobstructed view of the peculiar colours of materials of which the world consists. It may seem paradoxical that what it takes to visualize the color of reality is a comprehensive knowledge of painterly means and their utilization in the history of painting, but it is this that forms the foundation for the special position that Maria Lalic's work has taken on not only in the framework of Concrete Art, but in the history of painting."

Individuals to corroborate the artistic and cultural impact:

1) Manager, Education Department, Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery for the visitor numbers and cultural impact of the `Lalic trail' and `Maria Lalic artwork guide'.

2) Direktor, Institut fur Kunst im Kontext, Universitat der Kunste, Berlin on the artistic and cultural impact of Lalic's work, the History Paintings, Landscape Paintings and Colour and Metal Paintings.

3) Emeritus Professor of Visual Arts, Goldsmiths College, University of London on the artistic impact of the History Paintings and Colour and Metal Paintings.

4) Gallery Director, Jensen Gallery Sydney, Australia. On the wider artistic and cultural significance of Lalic's approach to painting.

5) Director, Galerie Bender, Germany for the artistic and cultural impact of Lalic's work in the international commercial gallery sector.