STUART BRISLEY, Untitled, 1959–1960

Andy Keate

Untitled, 1959–1960

Masonite board, canvas, PVA, sand, pigment, oil paint and tar

40" x 60"

Munich Assemblages and the later assemblages made in America


Assemblage has a multitude of meanings in the English language.

In relation to these works for example, it could mean collection, gathering, convergence, sociability. The words alone seem to be already heralding what was soon to become the 60's and all that is implied in the naming of that decade: the streets, spatial relativity, Situationists, whiff of revolutions. It is curious that whenever I start typing the word revolution, the computer wants to correct it as 'redo' or 'revel'.

At this stage I was already looking for found objects and materials in the streets, on building sites, in abandoned in between spaces, in damaged grounds. There were still major building works stemming from war destruction in London and Munich as elsewhere. This is in retrospect an early development arising from searching to make works which expressed a condition of the everyday and was subject to simple manifestations of making processes, perhaps more related to unskilled labour then artisanal expertise. 

Communication and action was primary, power was not.

I had refused the application of more traditional skills taught in the art schools in the 50's and with those, ideas of endowment, efficiency, quantifiable quality and so on. This approach to art practice was also informed by a political education which later led to enjoining direct action in the socio-political sense with art practice itself leading to art actions which were preferred by the progressives, such as The New Left movements of the time across the continents.

Keywords for these works would be free and simpleness.



Stuart Brisley, London 2015