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Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Request to view at the Prints & Drawings Study Room, level C

Creeping Buttercup

Etching
2002 (printed and published)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Most of Michael Landy's work to date has taken the form of sculpture/installation, and performance. The series of etchings of urban weeds, 'Nourishment', 2002, represent an interesting development in his work. His previous projects have been critiques of the wastefulness and redundancies inherent in capitalism and consumerism; his installations on these themes have featured street furniture, and in particular the abandoned, overlooked or displaced within the urban landscape: these have included items such as plastic bread trays, market stalls, and garbage. In 2001 Landy staged a radical and highly personal event, Breakdown, in a temporarily abandoned and redundant department store (formerly C&A), on London's Oxford Street. Over the space of 2 weeks he catalogued and then destroyed everything he owned (7,227 items in all).

The 'Nourishment' prints were his first artistic production after the conclusion of Breakdown. Each of the etchings represents a wild plant - of the kind usually characterised as weeds - which he found in the inhospitable urban environment - brownfield sites, cracks in pavements, the margins of carparks and so on. This is Creeping Buttercup (Ranunculus repens). He first drew the plants on paper and then on copper plates. He has represented the plants in black outline on a white ground, each plant represented whole, complete with roots, in the tradition of the early Renaissance botanical illustrators in 16th century herbals such as De Historia Stirpium (Leonhart Fuchs) and Vivae Icones (Otto Brunfels) (the V&A has copies of both books in the NAL). Again, like the early illustrators (and unlike the later, more scientific botanical studies) Landy gives a portrait of the individual specimen complete with wilted leaves and accidental damage, rather than an idealised version. These non-descript commonplace plants impressed Landy with their tenacity, and their ability to survive in a hostile environment without visible means of support and nourishment, and as such were analogous to his own situation in the aftermath of Breakdown. He has described these 'street flowers' as 'marvellous, optimistic things that you find in inner London'.


object details
Category
Object Type
Additional TitleNourishment (series title)
Materials and Techniques
Etching on paper
Brief Description
Michael Landy: print from the 'Nourishment' series. 2002
Physical Description
Etching
Dimensions
  • Size of sheet height: 89cm
  • Size of sheet width: 77.5cm
Copy Number
11/37
Marks and Inscriptions
Creeping Buttercup Michael Landy 11/37 2002 (in pencil on the back: title, signature, edition number, date)
Credit line
Purchased through the Julie and Robert Breckman Print Fund
Subjects depicted
Summary
Most of Michael Landy's work to date has taken the form of sculpture/installation, and performance. The series of etchings of urban weeds, 'Nourishment', 2002, represent an interesting development in his work. His previous projects have been critiques of the wastefulness and redundancies inherent in capitalism and consumerism; his installations on these themes have featured street furniture, and in particular the abandoned, overlooked or displaced within the urban landscape: these have included items such as plastic bread trays, market stalls, and garbage. In 2001 Landy staged a radical and highly personal event, Breakdown, in a temporarily abandoned and redundant department store (formerly C&A), on London's Oxford Street. Over the space of 2 weeks he catalogued and then destroyed everything he owned (7,227 items in all).



The 'Nourishment' prints were his first artistic production after the conclusion of Breakdown. Each of the etchings represents a wild plant - of the kind usually characterised as weeds - which he found in the inhospitable urban environment - brownfield sites, cracks in pavements, the margins of carparks and so on. This is Creeping Buttercup (Ranunculus repens). He first drew the plants on paper and then on copper plates. He has represented the plants in black outline on a white ground, each plant represented whole, complete with roots, in the tradition of the early Renaissance botanical illustrators in 16th century herbals such as De Historia Stirpium (Leonhart Fuchs) and Vivae Icones (Otto Brunfels) (the V&A has copies of both books in the NAL). Again, like the early illustrators (and unlike the later, more scientific botanical studies) Landy gives a portrait of the individual specimen complete with wilted leaves and accidental damage, rather than an idealised version. These non-descript commonplace plants impressed Landy with their tenacity, and their ability to survive in a hostile environment without visible means of support and nourishment, and as such were analogous to his own situation in the aftermath of Breakdown. He has described these 'street flowers' as 'marvellous, optimistic things that you find in inner London'.
Bibliographic References
  • Louisa Buck, 'Champion of the urban weed', The Art Newspaper, December 2002
  • Heidi Reitmayer, 'Hello Weed', Tate: International Arts and Culture, No.3, January/February 2003, pp.60-8
Collection
Accession Number
E.1065-2003

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record createdJune 15, 2004
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