Martin McGinn: Cryllic

Work / Art

Painter Martin McGinn’s still-lifes of art history books are a meta treat

How do we define our relationship with art history? Is in fact the very term misleading as a singular, should we think and talk about art histories instead as some theorists suggest? I don’t have the space or the intellectual credentials to explore these ideas but a new show opening in London today has as interesting take on the art/art history connection. Painter Martin McGinn’s series Volume 1 features still-lifes of art history tomes rendered as objects for artistic interpretation in their own right, as objects.

By returning these collections of reproduction to the canvas, Martin questions how art as academic subject, pastime and commodity dovetails with its more theoretical aims. In an essay for the exhibition catalogue, Richard Cork writes: “McGinn scrutinises [books] with as much penetrating zeal as other still-life painters might devote to flowers, vessels or food” and its this care and attention that makes these strange works especially fascinating.

Martin McGinn Volume 1 is at The Piper Gallery until February 8.


Martin McGinn: Andy and Helner


Martin McGinn: Coffee Table


Martin McGinn: Tapestry Cartoons


Martin McGinn: The Embrace


Martin McGinn: Yellow Cubism


Martin McGinn: Art History’s Shadow