Peter Cripps towards an elegant solution by gjjur4356


									                      acca education

Peter Cripps
towards an elegant solution
                   Public Projects (Fiction), Series 2, II, 1993.
  Peter Cripps
  towards an
  elegent solution

   Above and Below Ground Projects: Blackbird 12R, 1971
   Installed at Mildura Sculpture Triennial 1973
   Angle iron, cast aluminium, brass, canvas, stainless steel and rope
   305 + 152.5 x 12.20 x 172.37cm. Courtesy of the artist and Anna
   Schwartz Gallery.

  Bio                                                                Exhibition
  Peter Cripps was born in Sunshine, Victoria in 1948.               Over a forty year period, Peter Cripps’ practice of object
  Cripps’ early tertiary education was in agriculture,               based works and sculptural installations have continued
  and between 1965 and 1972 he worked as a profes-                   to explore the relationships between object and display,
  sional apiarist in rural Victoria, which he continued              context and the evolution of interpretation from one pe-
  while at art school. He started training as an artist in           riod to the next. Artist, curator and educator, Cripps has
  1967, and until 1968 studied at Frankston Technical                worked in Australian museums, galleries, universities and
  College, completing a Certificate of Art. He attended              the related art industry since the 1970s. His major survey
  the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT)                 exhibition displayed in all of ACCA’s exhibition spaces
  from 1969 to 1972, graduating with a Fellowship                    presents a series of meticulous structures that investigate
  Diploma. At RMIT he met his most influential teacher,              the development of radical modernism and spatial practice
  Margaret Plant, and was taught in sculpture by a                   in Australian art. This exhibition is the first major survey of
  number of the Centre Five artists, in particular Vin-              Peter Cripps’ work. In keeping with Cripps’ own curatorial
  cent Jomantas and Inge King. Their collaborations                  endeavours of the 80s, the exhibition will change twice dur-
  with architects and their emphasis on the democratic               ing the show’s installation. This will enable a comprehen-
  relationship between sculpture and architecture were               sive and episodic understanding of Cripps’ practice, and
  particularly influential on Cripps. His work is held               allow the re-presenting some works not seen since their
  comprehensively in the collections of the Museum of                first exhibition.
  Contemporary Art, Sydney, Australian National Gal-
  lery, Canberra and most state galleries in Australia,
  as well as numerous corporate and private collec-
  tions internationally. Since 1989 Peter Cripps has
  taught sculpture in the School of Art at RMIT.

   ‘Cripps observed that he had two careers, one as an artist
   and another working in museums and galleries.’
                                                                   Carolyn Barnes, Peter Cripps: Art & other strategies
The artist                                                               The museum professional
From 1966 Cripps worked on a series of photographs                       In 1973, Cripps was appointed Assistant Curator of
and models dealing with constructed space. In 1968                       Exhibitions at the National Gallery of Victoria. During this
he began developing constructions above and below                        period he travelled with exhibitions throughout Australia,
ground. From this series a large work was developed:                     in particular with the exhibition Some Recent American
Blackbird 12R, which was shown at the Mildura Sculp-                     Art. At this time Cripps also worked as an assistant to a
ture Triennial in 1973. Cripps also produced a significant               number of American artists, such as Sol Lewitt, Yvonne
number of small constructions from 1968 on. By the                       Rainer and Carl Andre. During his time at the NGV,
early 1970s, these objects had assumed the distinctive                   Cripps also worked on the exhibition Object and Idea.
form of a projection into space. Over 15 years from 1989                 Cripps was director of the Institute of Modern Art in
Cripps produced a key series of exhibitions at City Gal-                 Brisbane from 1983 to 1986. Key exhibitions he curated
lery, which became Anna Schwartz Gallery. Cumulatively                   include Robert MacPherson Survey (1985), Recession
these exhibitions comprise major investigative research                  Art and other Strategies (1986), Q Space + Q Space
into the dialogue between the object and its relationship                Annex 1980+1981 (1986) and a number of international
with the space in which is is presented and with the body                exhibitions, including the work of two central Buro Berlin
of the viewer. Early shows in this series were concerned                 artists, Fritz Rahman (1987) and Raymond Kummer
with the nature, dynamics and history of the object in the               (1988).
museum space and with the culture of museology itself.

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The art of display

The Duchamp Effect
Like many artists of his generation, Cripps was influenced by conceptual art. In
1968, as a young art student, Cripps attended a Marcel Duchamp exhibition at
the National Gallery of Victoria finding an artist whose work hinged on sophisti-
cated analyses of culture and meaning. Cripps was most struck by Duchamp’s                Marcel Duchamp, La Boîte-en-Valise
Boîte-en-Valise (1935-1941), a wooden box encased in a leather satchel con-               [Box in a Suitcase], 1935-1941
taining reproductions of Duchamp’s work, both prints and small replica objects.
The Boîte-en-Valise explored the technological circulation of artworks in modern
society and art’s shaping by museums and art history.

Cultures of display
A central interest of Peter Cripps’ art practice has been the production and pre-
sentation of cultural objects in the context of the art museum. He is concerned
with the archives and construction of history and of art history. Following Duch-
amp, Cripps developed his practice as a autobiographical archive of objects,
investigating how things and practices gain meaning and cultural legitimacy.
Shells of past activity biography included the steam engines he had made as a
teenager, accompanied by a homemade plywood suitcase his father had used in
the navy.                                                                         Entering du Prel’s projection: shells from
                                                                                        past activity, 1976
                                                                                        fabricated constructions
                                                                                        7 tables, cloths, veils, documentation
Through his practice Cripps investigates the very history of the museum display         placed on painted canvas
methods, from the 18th century cabinet of curiosities to the white cube of 20th         Courtesy of the artist and Anna Schwartz
century modernism. Posing the question is there an alternative to the accepted          Gallery
institutional space? What other types of art museums might exist?

He cites two museums particularly that fulfill an alternative model of history mak-
ing and display: the Stadlisches Museum Abteiberg Monchengladbach, Germany,
which Cripps admires as a contemporary museum with an overtly selective read-
ing of contemporary art; and the Grainger Museum at the University of Melbourne,
an autobiographical museum created by the maverick musician and composer
Percy Grainger, a highly personalized gesture by an individual able to manage his
own narrative. For Cripps, both museums accurately declare their intentions up
    ‘I’m interested in the history which is selective in the sense
    that it is about bias inherent in investigating and analyzing
    a particular body of work … I think that one problem of the
    contemporary museum is their lack of commitment to a
    particular reading of history. It needs to be made clear that                       Namelessness
    there is no such thing as a neutral position.’                                      Untitled, 1988
                                                                                        gesso on canvas 366 x 362 cm
                                                     Peter Cripps                       Museum of Contemporary Art, purchased 1991
                                                                                        Courtesy of the artist and Anna Schwartz

In 1989-90, Cripps presented his theatre piece Namelessness. Designed to be performed in art galleries, it is part
theatre, part performance art, installation, and sculpture. The title of the work derives from the very namelessness of
the work’s genre in terms of art production categories. A work about a museum dedicated to the work of a musican
performed in an art museum. In format Namelessness draws inspiration from experimental Dadaists and Construc-
tivist theatre of the1920’s. Using rotating sets, sculptures and actors the work aimed to change the viewers’ percep-
tion of the museum and to provoke them to question the situation in which they normally viewed art. Cripps was in-
terested in the idea of museums and their role in the construction of history and social memory, challenging the idea
that museums are, or should be, neutral spaces that present history as ‘objective’ or ‘true’. Cripps believes history is
actively created by cultures and individuals. It is partly for this reason that for Cripps, the Granger Museum stands in
opposition to the Australian public art museum, because it epitomises the deliberately fabricated museum. A personal
archive established by the composer.

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The display of art

     The diversity of Peter Cripps’ past activities as a curator, gallery
     director and publisher has influenced his practice.
The institutions of the museum and modes of display have been pivotal
interests explored in many of Cripps’ works made from the late 70s on-
wards. Cripps has continued to return to this interrogation of the muse-
um’s neutrality in many of his object based installations.

Larger works such as Another History for H.B. and R.L., continues Cripps’
interest in drawing attention to the physical and ideological space of the
modern art museum, modes of display, and the way we interpret objects
as art in these spaces. His works frequently mimic museum display tech-
niques. The initials in the title refer to Bauhaus designer Herbert Bayer.
Bayer’s exhibition design attempted to form a total space which would fully
implicate viewers and lead them to a planned and direct reaction. Cripps
responds to this by creating a spatial system of surfaces and supports that
are completely visible. Alternatively absorbed or reflected by the installa-
tion’s surfaces, the viewer’s presence is necessary for the completion of    Another History for H.B. and R.L., 1991 masonite
the work.                                                                    panels on wooden frames, mirror finish panels,
                                                                                    steel legs, installed dimensions variable. Cour-
                                                                                    tesy of the artist and Anna Schwartz Gallery

                                                               Field Theory, 1996
                                                               mirrors and synthetic poly-
                                                               mer paint on wood
                                                               13 parts: overall dimensions
                                                               Courtesy of the artist and
                                                               Anna Schwartz Gallery

 Cripps challenges the traditional methods of displaying art by presenting works                  Mirror works – construction series
 protruding from walls or ceilings, in his work Field Theory he places the art on the             Courtesy of the artist and Anna
 gallery floor thereby dispensing with the plinth all together. This subverts the way             Schwartz Gallery
 the viewer interacts with and views the works.

                                                                                                                 Real Objects in the
                                                                                                                 World, 1993
                                                                                                                 Medium density
                                                                                                                 dimensions variable,
                                                                                                                 individual objects ap-
                                                                                                                 prox. 180cm diameter
                                                                                                                 Courtesy of the artist
                                                                                                                 and Anna Schwartz

 Body and space
 Peter Cripps works predominantly by creating constructed installations. He has worked with mirrors, card-
 board cylinders, tin cans, circular cardboard boxes, and wood. Cripps displays works in such a way that they
 are like an extension of pre-existing architectural structures, or situtates them within a space by linking them
 to the surrounding architecture. His concern is with the in-between spaces and how our bodies navigate
 and complete the gallery space. He often creates works to match the scale and height of his own body as
 demonstrated in the installation Real Objects in the World, a series of octagonal objects that hinder easy
 movement, and have no clear viewpoint. Visitors have to move around these octagonal forms, extending
 their perspective, and perceiving the objects and displays from all directions.

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Materials & Techniques

Peter Cripps’ materials and techniques can be traced back to
the influence of his family. Cripps’ father worked as a refrigera-
tor repairman, as a child he would often accompany his father
to supermarkets. Watching his father dissecting the refrigera-         Peter Cripps, Above and Below Ground Projects: Model,
tors aroused his interest in investigating the way things work         1968, plated metal, brass, steel. Courtesy of the artist and
                                                                       Anna Schwartz Gallery
and how they are constructed. As a teenager he tinkered with
scraps and metal off-cuts from his father’s tool shed to create
moving mini steam engines. The artist’s mother took him to
musical and theatre performances which inspired his interest
in art theatre and set-design.

Continuing his interest in the construction of things, Cripps’
1990’s series of free standing objects known as ‘Public
Projects’ adhered closely to the Russian Constructivist ethos
employed by Soviet artists such as Vladimir Tatlin. In 1920
Tatlin proposed a futuristic monument entitled 3rd International
Tower, emphasising abstract geometric shapes and functional
parts. The Constructivists believed that design began with
construction, including industrial fabrication of materials.
                                                                    Model for the 3rd Inter-
                                                                    national Tower, Vladimir
                                                                    Tatlin 1919-1920

Building as object
Public Project is an ongoing series of work ranging in size
from small-scale works to large public sculptures. For this
exhibition at the ACCA Cripps has created the first large-scale Peter Cripps, Public
Public Project work realised. Over seven metres in height, the Projects (Fiction),
                                                                   Series 2, II, 1993.
Public Project sculpture will be displayed on the Sturt Street     Courtesy of the artist
                                                                   and Anna Schwartz
forecourt of ACCA. Turning a quizzical eye — in the form of        Gallery
five convex mirrors — on the exterior of ACCA and its imme-
diate neighbourhood, Cripps’ pair of big brotheresque mirror
towers reflect the centre, a building which self-consciously
declares itself ‘a sculpture in which to show art’, itself an off-
spring of monumental minimalism.

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International Modernism                                                                    FORM IS FUNCTION
Bauhaus is a German expression, meaning house for building. In 1919, the economy in Germany was collapsing
after a crushing war. Architect Walter Gropius was appointed to head a new institution that would help rebuild the
country and form a new social order. Called the Bauhaus, the Institution called for a new rational social housing
for the workers. Bauhaus architects rejected bourgeois details such as cornices, eaves, and decorative details.
They wanted to use principles of Classical architecture in their most pure form: without ornamentation of any
kind. The term International Style was applied to the American form of Bauhaus architecture.

Constructivism                                                                        ART OF THE EVERYDAY
A movement in modern art originating in Moscow in 1920 following World War I and characterized by the use of
industrial materials to create abstract, nonrepresentational paintings or sculpture. The belief of ‘art for art’s sake’
was dispensed with and in its place an emphasis on the importance of art for social purposes, it aspired to bring
art into everyday life. Constructivist art was closely allied with the De Stijl (Holland) and Bauhaus School (Ger-
many) movements both influenced by the development of art, architecture and industrial design.

Minimalism                                                                                         LESS IS MORE
Is a term used to describe paintings and sculpture that thrive on simplicity in both content and form, and seek to
remove any sign of personal expressivity. The aim of Minimalism is to allow the viewer to experience the work
more intensely without the distractions of composition or theme. From the 1920s artists such as Malevich and
Duchamp, produced works in the Minimalist vein but the movement is known chiefly by its 1960s and 1970s
American exponents such as Dan Flavin, Ellsworth Kelly and Donald Judd. Minimal Art relates to Conceptual Art
in the way the finished work exists merely to convey a theory.

Conceptualism                                                                                 ART OF THE IDEA
Leading conceptual artists of the 1960s and 1970s Sol Le Witt and Joseph Kosuth, both exemplified the concep-
tualist notion that genuine art is not a unique or valuable physical object created by the physical skill of the artist
- like a drawing, painting or sculpture - but instead is a concept or an idea. Le Witt attached great importance to
the primacy of ‘the idea’ stating, “all of the planning and decisions are made beforehand and the execution is a
perfunctory affair.” His attitude can be illustrated by the fact that many of his works can be constructed by anyone
who follows his written instructions.

                                                                                   Further reading

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                                                                                    Curriculum links
Visual Communication & Design

>Peter Cripps creates structures that investigate the development of radical modernism and design in Australian art.
Investigate the origins of modernism and design in Australian art, looking at a range of Australian artists.

>Do a series of observational freehand drawings of the structures of the installations of Peter Cripps. Include both a
one and two point perspective drawing and depict the surface details of each structure, including materials and tex-

>In relation to the work of Peter Cripps, discuss how a historical style and and movement influences the production of
contemporary visual communication. Look at the Bauhaus School as design movement the how it may have influ-
enced his work.


>As part of his Public Project at ACCA, Peter Cripps has installed works in both the interior and exterior of the build-
ing. Cripps’ external mirrors reflect the surrounding environment and are displayed in a public area. Look at a range of
public art around Melbourne. Research the artists who created the works you look at and discuss and compare their
works to that of Cripps.

> How important do you think the display and layout of Cripps’ installation is to interpreting his work?

>How does Cripps critique museum culture in his practice? What is he saying?

Studio Art

>Peter Cripps displays found objects in gallery spaces. Look at the work of Marcel Duchamp. Consider what both
Duchamp and Cripps are saying about the notion of an “art object”. Discuss your thoughts on this idea.

>What types of museums currently exist? What strategies has Cripps used in his artistic practise to demonstrate this?

> How does Cripps’ career as a curator influence his artist practice?

Theatre Studies

>Explore Avant-Garde Theatre, focusing on the works of Andre Breton and Salvador Dali.

>Study the minimalist theatre of Samuel Beckett by exploring his playscripts Lessness and Waiting for Godot. Re-
search the contexts, origins, theatrical styles, production processes, use of stagecraft and performance possibilities of
each playscript. In groups, do a number of practical workshops involving the application of stagecraft for each play-

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