Michael Craig-Martin

Michael Craig-Martin’s Alphabet at The Burton Art Gallery

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Michael Craig-Martin

Michael Craig-Martin, one of the most influential British artists of recent decades, whose work is in the collection at Tate Modern, will have his Alphabet exhibition at The Burton Art Gallery & Museum, Bideford, in February and March.

Michael has been described an inspiration to the YBA generation of artists, many of whom he taught in his capacity as Professor at Goldsmiths College of Art. In Alphabet he has produced 26 screenprints in which the letters of the alphabet are overlaid with everyday objects such as a book, a glass of water or an umbrella.

Throughout his career, Craig-Martin has explored the iconography of everyday and designer objects. In Alphabet, visually arresting images are set against a background of vivid monochrome colours and overlaid with a single letter. In this series, created in his signature style, Michael plays with the idea of the ABC children’s primer. Instead of a direct ‘A is for Apple’, ‘B is for Ball’, the relationship between the letter and image is more ambiguous and requires some guess-work; ‘C’ shows a knife, perhaps representing the word ‘cut’.

© Michael Craig-Martin. Courtesy Alan Cristea Gallery, London

Councillor David Lausen says: “Alphabet develops Michael Craig-Martin’s own deceptively simple graphic style, which plays with and transforms everyday objects. You are just as likely to have seen his images on a shopping bag or a royal mail stamp as you are in the Tate Collection. This is a world class show in Bideford, but it is also a very approachable one. You can come along with your family, enjoy the alphabet screenprints; and even take part in one of the activities for families.”

Michael was born in Dublin in 1941 and educated in the United States, where he studied at Yale University under Josef Albers. He returned to Europe in the mid-1960s and was a key figure in the first generation of British conceptual artists. As a tutor at Goldsmith’s College from 1974-1988 and Professor from 1994-2000, he had a significant influence on two generations of young British artists. His work is in the collection of Tate Modern. This series of 26 screen prints was published by the Alan Cristea Gallery in 2007.

(Image: Michael Craig-Martin, Alphabet, 2007, A series of 26 screenprints, © Michael Craig-Martin. Courtesy Alan Cristea Gallery, London.)