Michael Samuels: This Was Tomorrow

By Trigg, David | Art Monthly, September 2012 | Go to article overview

Michael Samuels: This Was Tomorrow


Trigg, David, Art Monthly


Spacex Exeter 28 July to 15 September

Dominating the main gallery at Spacex is what appears to be a rather unlikely monument to 1960s British living rooms. Reaching from one end of the space to the other, the tall, slender construction, comprising fragments of modernist furniture held together with G-clamps and ratchet straps, dramatically bisects the gallery. This is Tragedy of the Commons, 2012, Michael Samuels's most ambitious work to date and the centrepiece of 'This Was Tomorrow', his first solo show in a UK public gallery. Yet despite its imposing scale, the work exudes a curious air of familiarity. Perhaps it is the fragments of teak drawers and classic cupboard designs; or maybe it is the numerous hi-fi speakers or the anglepoise lamps, which are hard not to read anthropomorphically. Above all, though, its homely quality can be credited to the human scale and the domestic, ergonomic design of the work's constituent parts.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Continuing Samuels's quirky investigations into the formal, material and spatial qualities of sculpture, the works in this show all utilise G-Plan furniture. Launched in the mid 1950s by Donald Gomme, the aspirational G-Plan brand revolutionised British furniture, combining contemporary Scandinavian-style design with modern marketing techniques. Samuels's approach to this now retro product line is to cut up, skilfully splice and reconfigure its cabinets, tables and sideboards to create complex, fragmented sculptures that embrace a visual unpredictability while revealing an intuitive inner logic.

The word bricolage is often bandied about in discussions of Samuels's work and it could be argued that the artist has claimed the mantle of Kurt Schwitters. Yet Samuels' modus operandi is not as close to Levi-Strauss's conception of the bricoleur as some have supposed. In his 1962 book The Savage Mind, Levi-Strauss observes that bricoleurs approach tasks by reviewing the resources they have immediately to hand. He stresses that the bricoleur operates within a closed universe and that the 'rules of his game are always to make do with whatever is at hand'. While Samuels may have previously made do with whatever came to hand, his recent works comprise carefully selected elements, deliberately sought out in secondhand furniture shops or on eBay. Thus it is perhaps more accurate to consider Samuels as an assemblage artist, one who, in the words of William Seitz, is concerned with 'the fitting together of parts and pieces'.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Michael Samuels: This Was Tomorrow
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.