Hauser & Wirth continues its outdoor sculpture programme with Martin Creed’s ‘Work No. 700’ (2007), three progressively slimmer steel I-beams balanced on top of each other. The rusted steel I-beams are twelve metres long and neatly stacked, discarding their previous functionality to form a whole in keeping with Creed’s distinctive ‘artistic logic’.
The piece is the largest realised work from Creed’s ‘Stack’ series, a pyramidal compositional system that the artist has applied to media as diverse as cardboard boxes, plant pots, chairs, and painted lines; each ordered according to size, ascending or descending in incremental steps. Ordinary life in all of its variety is submitted to this no-nonsense rigour, creating works of art characterised by a comforting simplicity. ‘I think of a lot of my art as a simple frame through which people can see all the chaos of the world’, Creed has said. ‘It is like graph paper laid over a chaotic scene, and that’s how it can be helpful or a comfort. Because life is just wild’.
Eschewing the label of ‘conceptual artist’, Creed is concerned with the stuff of the world and the range of feelings this inspires. The use of industrial material and the scale of ‘Work No. 700’, as well as its formal directness and economy of means, recalls the works of Minimalist artists. Yet in contrast to Minimalism’s quest for an aesthetic of purity, Creed’s steel girders are left in their used, practical state. Order co-exists with imperfection, with uncontrolled details that give the sculpture its character and particularity. According to the critic Martin Herbert writing about this piece for Art Monthly, ‘There is deep pleasure in this confluence of discipline and forgiveness, the admirable lunge for perfection offset by a recognition that we cannot reach it in real life’.
Images and text provided by Hauser & Wirth