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John Latham
Offer Fore Sale 1974

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OFFER FOR SALE 1974 Author John Latham design and production Vaughan Grylls Publisher The Gallery London Format Yshaped display unit, centre locked on an interior column with external chromed aluminium stands at 72in height. Three duofaced screens at 48inh x 60inw bleed-mounted with linefilm bw prints from Artist Placement Group/Allied Polymer Group texts supplied. Exhibited 19 Nov-17 Dec 1974 (The Gallery London); 5 Sept-12 Oct 1974 (Stadtische Kunsthalle, Dusseldorf, in John Latham State of Mind); July 1976 (Tate Gallery, London in John Latham Work in Progress); and also Arte Inglese Oggi, Milan 1976; Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh, 1976.Documented The Guardian 5.12.74, p.10; Studio International 189/973Jan/ Feb 75 p.16 (Review section); JohnLatham(Stadtische Kunsthalle, Dusseldorf 1975, pp.51-52; John Latham (Middlesex University Press 1976) 127-9, 158

 

John Latham had been active on several fronts, as an artist and interventionist inthe fields of physics, cosmology, and social action, since the late 1940s. His work paralleled, and was in advance of, the Tachist experiments of the 50s, of Rauschenberg, Johns and Arman, and his potent assemblages of burnt and moulded book reliefs at the turn of the 60s defined the cutting edge of the art of the time. Alert to the shifts of the new thinking emerging from the mid fifties, Latham had been inappropriately marginalised, and downgraded as a maverick by English art bureaucracies, unable to cope with the range and penetration of his time based agenda Offer for Sale therefore, gave two perspectives of ways of dealing with the world the Allied Polymer Group conventional brief for a value system based on capital value, share ownership and dividend returns on prospective profits; and Latham advising, through the apg document, of the potential of the artist as (in his term), an incidental person in society. The basic premise of this proposition was for anew flexible system of organisation with imagination, to replace the old hierarchical order. As designer of the project Grylls applied himself to create a sensational construction, using stable and tipped deltas to dramatize the face screens of the unit. Chromed aluminium frames and stand legs on the photo screens gave an exhilarating sweep to the display, the inverted triangle of the stand echoing the bold signs of the deltas. The work was presented as a genuine offer for sale, with a starter-price of GBP8000. Allied with the release in December of the first annual statement of The Gallery productions, the work became an object of intense interest and speculation amongst critics and curators and only the director of the Tate Gallery, Sir Norman Reids blanket rejection blocked its due place in the Modern Collection. Contemporary reviews of the work by writers from Rosetta Brooks to Paul Overy, Nigel Gosling and Caroline Tisdall, gave balanced assessments of the piece, each skirting guardedly around the offer, which was alluded to as part of a game, but one with serious intent. Beyond its first presentation Offer for Sale was exhibited at the Stadtische Kunsthalle, Duesseldorf (September to October 1975) and the Tate Gallery in July 1976, as part of the artist's first retrospectives.