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Michael Landy

A series of films looking at contemporary artist Michael Landy's work with the National Gallery

More from Michael Landy (5 videos)

  • Michael Landy: Saints Alive

    The Language of Drawing

    Michael Landy, National Gallery Associate Artist, reflects on his work alongside fellow artists Michael Craig-Martin and Sir Peter Blake - himself a former Associate Artist.

    Find out how Landy follows his 'destructive phases' with 'rebirth' and his opinion on copying. The culmination of his residency features in the Gallery's 'Michael Landy: Saints Alive' exhibition, a series of large-scale kinetic sculptures and paper collages inspired by paintings of saints in the National Gallery Collection.

    Michael Landy, National Gallery Associate Artist, reflects on his work alongside fellow artists Michael Craig-Martin and Sir Peter Blake - himself a former Associate Artist.

    Find out how Landy follows his 'destructive phases' with 'rebirth' and his opinion on copying. The culmination of his residency features in the Gallery's 'Michael Landy: Saints Alive' exhibition, a series of large-scale kinetic sculptures and paper collages inspired by paintings of saints in the National Gallery Collection.

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    Michael Landy: Saints Alive

    The Language of Drawing

    Movie
  • Michael Landy: Saints Alive

    In the Studio

    The Gallery's Associate Artist Michael Landy allows Alison Watt (former National Gallery Associate Artist 2006-2008) a sneak preview of his work in progress as he prepares for his exhibition 'Michael Landy: Saints Alive' - the culmination of his residency at the Gallery.

    Saints Alive is a series of large-scale kinetic sculptures and paper collages inspired by paintings of saints in the National Gallery Collection.

    The Gallery's Associate Artist Michael Landy allows Alison Watt (former National Gallery Associate Artist 2006-2008) a sneak preview of his work in progress as he prepares for his exhibition 'Michael Landy: Saints Alive' - the culmination of his residency at the Gallery.

    Saints Alive is a series of large-scale kinetic sculptures and paper collages inspired by paintings of saints in the National Gallery Collection.

    Read More
     thumbnail03:53

    Michael Landy: Saints Alive

    In the Studio

    Movie
  • Transcription Michael Landy: Saints Alive

    Background Tour

     

    ML: When I first entered the national gallery I became very aware of St Catherine, because she appears in the half the paintings. So I have been reading the golden legend.

    The saints kind of remind me of my weeds – you can tell a weed by its flower head as with the saints you can tell them by their attributes.

     

    ML: Nice to see you.

     

    JS: My name is Jennifer Sliwka -  I am a specialist in Italian Renaissance Art and I have been involved with the Gallery for quite a few years now. And in my personal research I have been very much interested in the lives of the saints. I have spent a lot of time in Italy in the archives, a lot of very close looking. And I am also quite interested in the idea of relics and bodies of saints – remnants of their clothing and how people respond when they are in the environment of a relic.

     

    I just thought of the other attribute that you often get with Catherine is her ring.

     

    ML: Oh, her ring – okay

     

    JS: Because of her mystic marriage to Christ

     

    ML: Oh yes her mystic marriage to Christ. Is that Saint Catherine of Alexandra and Saint Catherine of Sienna?

     

    JS: It’s both

     

    ML: They both had mystic marriages to Christ – was that something to do with Christ’s foreskin? Or is that completely different. I am getting all my stories mixed up.

     

    JS: That’s a different story.

     

    JS: Here’s the Jerome drawing by Durer that you were reminding me of, I couldn’t picture it in my mind, the light is so important here and that kind of early morning light, well to me that looks early morning.

     

    ML:  And why did he go to the desert in the first place, just to kind of get away from everyday life?

     

    JS: Yeah, take himself out of the every day.

     

    ML:  He seemed like a very apt Saint to begin with because he has so many different sides to him - he is an old man with a beard, but he has a six-pack. He’s a hermit, he’s a scholar, he’s a doctor of the church, he’s angry, he kind of flagellates himself and he starts. He has sexual hallucinations about the dancing girls in Rome so he starts to beat his chest with a rock. I think that I was reading last night that some artists introduced a rock at a certain point in time. So he beats his chest and kind of bloodies his chest.

     

    JS: There are some interesting passages from authors writing in the 15th century who describe, I mean alternatively you have descriptions of Jermone as this sort of  very meek and skinny man. Or as an athlete of Christ.

     

    ML: Oh really, because most of the paintings I see in the collection of Jerome he is always quite looks physically powerful. He has got huge legs and very powerful chest and arms.

     

    JS: So something to suggest the heroic I think in that case.

     

    ML: I think he had quite a wild time – well relatively wild time – for a saint when he was a young man. He kind of reminisces about the girls dancing so when he gets sexual thoughts he has to beat himself Also I like it because obviously artists they beat themselves, I beat myself up the whole time, I used to hit myself and bang my head against the wall or something just as a way to get through frustration, and I like the idea of being a hermit so you can just go away with your own thoughts and think about your art, not email anybody, you know it’s a nice kind of thought to be able to lock yourself away in a cave and make art and beat yourself up at the same time.

     

    ML: Because that is the interesting thing about Saints in a sense as an artist what can you do with them. There are certain given things like it is an interesting thing you were saying that the rock is an invention by artists and so it is like that kind of thing – what else can you do with it? Apart from what has been handed down to you by other artists and what is a given in a sense.

     

    JS: yes artistic licence

     

    ML: Because artists are always trying to find another way into it or another interpretation. So it is interesting how different artists tackle it.

     

    JS: and once there is a more or less established iconography then you feel less able to be flexible

     

    ML: Yes once there are a set kind of rules of what one can do and what one can’t do.

     

    JS: How are you to recognise a saint without certain attributes?

     

    ML: Yes completely – how are you going to introduce a whole new set of attributes people would be confused. I notice that there is some shepherd’s purse here as well.

     

    JS: This is very impressive.

     

    ML: I know shepherd’s purse because I have made etchings and the first etching that I ever made was of Shepherd’s Purse because it was round where our council estate it used to grow. It is very good at growing in the little cracks in the pavement.

     

    JS: Exactly

     

    ML: Exactly as it is now.

    Michael Landy: Saints Alive

    Background tour

    In this short film, the National Gallery's Associate Artist Michael Landy talks to Jennifer Sliwka, specialist in Italian Renaissance art about the Gallery's collection of artwork depicting saints - and how these subjects and their attributes have influenced his own work.

    The film was shot in May 2012 shortly before his 'Saints Alive' exhibition opened at the Gallery.

    In this short film, the National Gallery's Associate Artist Michael Landy talks to Jennifer Sliwka, specialist in Italian Renaissance art about the Gallery's collection of artwork depicting saints - and how these subjects and their attributes have influenced his own work.

    The film was shot in May 2012 shortly before his 'Saints Alive' exhibition opened at the Gallery.

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     thumbnail05:06

    Michael Landy: Saints Alive

    Background tour

    Movie
  • Transcript:

     

    The provisional title for the show is Saints Alive - I am not sure I will stick with that. So that is what I am kind of interested in - is making the saints come alive basically.

     

    Which painting is this taken from again I can't remember?

     

    That's the Cima

    That's the Cima yeah, well that's all the Cima that's his arm, that's his chest.

    It's come like you find these parts in a scrap yard, and all these wheels are going to be kind of sixties and seventies kind of era wheels yeah it's a clinky clanky kind of sculpture.

     

    He is essentially extracting bits of different very important paintings,

    he's pulling them all together, animating them in three dimensions and monumentalising them, for something that was teeny tiny he is suddenly blowing up times ten and I think it's going to make people feel in a whole new way, so I think what he is doing in his own project is pulling people into the paintings and getting them to ask very important questions about the paintings.

     

    We are going to go MDM in Herne Hill who basically fabricate sculptures and all sorts of things for artists, so we are going to go and visit them and see how far they have got with the St  Jerome sculpture, to just give me a kind of idea what its going to look like and the finishing touches we have to give it.

     

    It is just much bigger than I imagined...

     

    It's the size you drew it

     

    Oh I know that. Drawing them on little bits of paper and then actually seeing them in real life is completely different.

     

    That is the reason for doing the full size  mock-up.

     

    Effectively it will be pivoting here and coming down and striking the chest with the rock here.

     

    So it is the butt end of the rock will hit the chest.

     

    I didn’t discuss with you - are we going to cast the whole thing and then make that kind of incision

     

    The back of it you will be able to see the wheels and the working mechanism.

     

    We will go beyond this broken line

     

    We will probably cast the whole thing

     

    Yes, I think that is sensible -

     

    You can then chose where you want to smash it away or break it off

     

    Yes, I think we should do that.

     

    So we went to Sunbury antiques market yesterday – I was there at half past six  in the morning to buy wheels. The only problem with wheels is that they are normally attached to other things . We might keep parts of some of the mechanism, but it is predominantly looking for wheels

     

    Next we continue the on-going search for bits and pieces, components and mechanical things from various places. That is ongoing.

     

    The sculpted elements as you saw upstairs will be finished probably next week and then they will start to be cast out in the right materials and then painted.

    And the construction of the mechanism itself will start next week as well – We should have enough stuff together by then and it will slowly come together

     

    The cast elements will be out the following week and we can start actually assembling it.

     

    It will be great.

    Michael Landy: Saints Alive

    Sculpture development

    This film follows the National Gallery's Associate Artist Michael Landy's journey to produce one of the sculptures for his 'Saint's Alive' exhibition. Follow him from the conception of his ideas, to their development and animation, focusing on how he transforms saints from paintings into large-scale kinetic sculptures.

    Michael takes Jennifer Sliwka, specialist in Italian Renaissance art through his ideas, and then visits MDM studio in south London to see the production of one of his sculptures for the exhibition, 'St Jerome' in action.

    This film follows the National Gallery's Associate Artist Michael Landy's journey to produce one of the sculptures for his 'Saint's Alive' exhibition. Follow him from the conception of his ideas, to their development and animation, focusing on how he transforms saints from paintings into large-scale kinetic sculptures.

    Michael takes Jennifer Sliwka, specialist in Italian Renaissance art through his ideas, and then visits MDM studio in south London to see the production of one of his sculptures for the exhibition, 'St Jerome' in action.

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    Michael Landy: Saints Alive

    Sculpture development

    Movie
  • Colin Wiggins: Right, so Michael, welcome to the National Gallery.

    Michael Landy: Thank you.

    Colin Wiggins: You were a bit bemused when we contacted you first of all.
     
    Michael Landy: I was.

    Colin Wiggins: Why?

    Michael Landy: Well because obviously I didn’t think I was the type of person that the National Gallery would ask to become Artist in Residence, partly because of my track record, destruction in art.

    Colin Wiggins: Destroying things.

    Michael Landy: And also I’ve never made a painting in my whole life. And so, yes, you emailed, called, I can’t quite remember what it was, and I thought, someone’s pulling my leg. And then I thought I’d better come here to make sure it was all legitimate and above board. And seemingly it was, so far anyway.

    Colin Wiggins: And so how long did it take you to decide to accept, or was it, kind of instantaneous?

    Michael Landy: I was more intrigued by why they asked me in the first... because I basically had just gone with trusting the people who invited me to do this in the first place, that they know what they’re doing.

    Colin Wiggins: So, anyway, here you are, and do you know what you’re going to be doing in the next few weeks?

    Michael Landy: Well I’ve been here for six days so far and I’ve spent all my time in the galleries looking at the collection.

    Colin Wiggins: So you’re looking?

    Michael Landy: So, yes, I’m basically, I mean, I’m an artist, that’s what I spend quite a lot of time doing anyway, is looking. I don’t necessarily look at art, but I’m just kind of looking and observing and I’m just here with the general public looking at the collection. Having not really been to the National Gallery that often in the past, then I’m actually, I’m just taking in all this information basically, and I’m looking, and I’m kind of thinking through what I can come up with as far as some kind of response to the collection.

    Colin Wiggins: So Michael, when we said last week come and have a initial conversation about what you’re going to be doing, you said you’d like to do it here in front of the Maximilian picture. Why did you choose this one?

    Michael Landy: Partly because it looks like bits I could have found in Art Bin, and I just had fragments and I just put them all back together again. And I obviously like it because there’s parts missing and I could fill in the gaps, and its fine, and someone’s being executed, but at the same time there’s kind of, someone’s also executed parts of the canvas.

    Colin Wiggins: It’s been thrown away, exactly as you said like in Art Bin.

    Michael Landy: Oh yes, I said in Art Bin, it was thrown into Art Bin, and we’ve managed to find some of the fragments, but sadly, some of them have ended up in landfill.

    Colin Wiggins: Yes. [Laughter]. And we actually talked to you at the Art Bin show down at the South London Gallery, with Peter, with Peter Blake.

    Michael Landy: Yes, so Peter came along and threw one of his portraits in, because he never throws anything away. He told me that I would walk into the galleries and I would instantly know what I was going to do.

    Peter Blake: I actually started working...

    Michael Landy: Obviously knew what you were going to do straight away

    Peter Blake: I knew exactly. Yes, so when I… you will, by the time you’re going to build up.

    Colin Wiggins: And did that work?

    Michael Landy: No. [Laughing]. I’m still waiting for that revelation to occur. I mean, Sir Peter will probably... I’m sure he’s right, it will happen at some point, I’m just not looking in the right way. It’s quite a lot of information to take in, so I kind of have to have breaks and sort of dip in, dip, and go back to the studio.

    Michael Landy: Saints Alive

    Artist's insight

    Michael Landy talks to Colin Wiggins about his first impressions of being an Associate Artist at the National Gallery, and reveals how he draws connections between his art bin project and the fragments of Manet's The Execution of Maximilian.

    Later Michael also taks to the artist Peter Blake (National Gallery Associate Artist 1994-6). 

    Find out more about the 'Michael Landy: Saints Alive' exhibition.

     

    Michael Landy talks to Colin Wiggins about his first impressions of being an Associate Artist at the National Gallery, and reveals how he draws connections between his art bin project and the fragments of Manet's The Execution of Maximilian.

    Later Michael also taks to the artist Peter Blake (National Gallery Associate Artist 1994-6). 

    Find out more about the 'Michael Landy: Saints Alive' exhibition.

     

    Read More
     thumbnail03:40

    Michael Landy: Saints Alive

    Artist's insight

    Movie
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