Jonathan Monk & Keith Arnatt

May 17 - 24, 2008

Our 23rd 'pairing' was a collaborative installation by two of the most interesting conceptual artists of their respective generations, Jonathan Monk and Keith Arnatt.

 

Monk's work frequently references other artists and particularly those making conceptual work in the 60s and 70s. Here he pays homage to one of the largely unsung heroes of this period, Keith Arnatt, with an installation based on one of Arnatt's seminal texts from 1972. The words KEITH ARNATT IS AN ARTIST will be installed at Monk's direction as two identical wall texts on two facing walls in an emphatic re-statement of the obvious, which also calls us to reconsider the work of this important but overlooked figure in 20th century art.

 

Mark Haworth-Booth (curator, writer and ex-Head of Photography at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London) has admiringly described Arnatt as someone with a "perverse delight in taking things literally, being so 'down to earth' that our mouths fall open in astonishment". Monk's proposal for this exhibition perfectly echos that view, and celebrates the irreverent humour and straightforward brilliance of Arnatt's extensive oeuvre.

 

Keith Arnatt was born in Oxford in 1930 and studied at Oxford School of Art and the Royal Academy in London. He began his career as a painter and sculptor, but in the late 1960s moved towards more conceptual work - which he called 'situations', documenting each installation or action photographically. These included such physically demanding pieces as 'Liverpool Beach Burial' (1968), a line of volunteers interred up to their necks in sand, and 'Self Burial' - the artist gradually disappearing, frame by frame, under a grassy field. Renowned for his conceptual work at this time, Arnatt held solo exhibitions at Tate, London and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. However in 1973, introduced to work of the likes of Diane Arbus and Walker Evans by teaching colleague and Magnum photographer David Hurn, Arnatt changed direction again, embarking on a 30 year career as a photographer. For many years to come he would be largely overlooked by the art world, a situation which is at last beginning to be rectified with events such as last years exhibition at The Photographer's Gallery, London 'Keith Arnatt: I'm A Real Photographer', curated by Hurn.

 

Jonathan Monk was born in Leicester in 1969. He studied at The Glasgow School of Art from 1988-91 and now lives and works in Berlin.