Cartouche I-4

Richard Smith

Cartouche I-4 is one of fifteen original paper pulp works Richard Smith made for the first Cartouche series. Four more series followed in quick succession, titled Cartouche II to Cartouche V, created between June 1979 and January 1980, fifty-five works in total. The process used is the same liquid paper pulp technique invented by master printer Kenneth Tyler for Ellsworth Kelly, and which was most famously used in David Hockney’s seminal series Paper Pools.

Richard Smith chose ‘Cartouche’ as the generic title for the series because, when the works were first assembled, they reminded him of those heroic reliefs incorporating, for example, flags or scrolls of poetry and he remembered that ‘cartouche’ was the architectural term used to describe such ornamentation: the term was doubly appropriate because it derives from the Latin, carta, or paper.

The whole series is divided into five categories according to the number of panels used and the format in which they are designed to be suspended. Each category is denoted by a Roman Numeral and the works within each category are marked sequentially by an arabic number. ‘Cartouche I’ and ‘Cartouche II’ each comprise fifteen sets of three overlapping panels, designed to be suspended vertically in category I and horizontally in category II. ‘Cartouche III’, comprising a set of eight two-panel works, is hung in a cross configuration and ‘Cartouche V’ comprises thirteen two-panel works hung diagonally. The fourth category contains four three-panel works, arranged vertically. Cartouche II-10 belongs to the permanent collection of the Tate Gallery in London.

It was the first time he had worked in this medium and the pieces were made in collaboration with Kenneth Tyler, Lindsay Green and Steve Reeves at the Tyler Graphics paper mill in Bedford, New York. Kenneth Tyler, previously founding partner and master printer of the Gemini Press in Los Angeles, founded Tyler Graphics in 1973 and his research into and knowledge of the paper making process has led to collaborations with such artists as Kenneth Noland, Ellsworth Kelly and David Hockney, all of whom have made pulp paper works at the Tyler workshop.

Forty of the fifty-five works in the series were first seen publicly in three exhibitions held in the first quarter of 1980. The Knoedler Gallery exhibited ‘Cartouche I–10’, 14; II–5, 10, 12; III–4, 7; IV–I; V–4, 10 (February 4–March 3); the Norman Mackenzie Art Gallery, University of Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada, ‘Cartouche I–1,’ 6, 7, 8, 9, 15; II–2, 6, 7, 9, 11, 14, 15; III–3, 5; IV–3, 4; V–1, 2, 12 (February 8–March 19) and the Bernard Jacobson Gallery, New York, ‘Cartouche I–II’, 13; II–I, 4, 13; III–3, 8; IV–2; V–3, II (March 4–April 22).

Richard Smith (1931-2016)
Cartouche I-4
Paper collaged to cloth in three parts, suspended on aluminium tubes with twine threaded through brass eyelets
Overall size 60 x 42 in : 152.4 x 106.7 cm, front panel 19 ½ x 19 ½ in : 49.5 x 49.5 cm, middle panel 37 x 19 ½ in : 94.0 x 49.5 cm, back panel 53 x 19 1/2 in : 134.6 x 49.5 cm
Signed R Smith and dated 1979 on front panel, lower left
Estate of Helen Getler, USA
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