Installation view Charlottenborg Museum, Copenhagen, 2002 Image Courtesy of The Artist and The Modern Institute/Toby Webster Ltd, Glasgow © Martin Boyce

Image: Martin Boyce, Mobile (Being With You Is Like The New Past)2002Image Courtesy the Artist and The Modern Institute/Toby Webster Ltd, Glasgow © Martin Boyce


Martin Boyce was born in Hamilton, Scotland in 1967 and studied at the Glasgow School of Art. He represented Scotland at the Venice Biennale in 2009 and won the Turner Prize in 2011. 

Boyce makes sculpture and installation inspired by the aesthetics of early twentieth-century Modernism. Working with materials such as metal, concrete and wood, his minimal forms are often recognisable as furniture, municipal structures and trees. He turns entire rooms, from floor to ceiling, into abstracted landscapes that reflect on the construction of public space. Glasgow’s street furniture and housing estates are considered alongside the buildings of European architects such as Carlo Scarpa, in works that magnify the tension between urban and natural forms. For Boyce’s exhibition at the Venice Biennale, the rooms of a palazzo became a kind of indoor park, with benches, trashcans and scattered leaves, cut and folded at perfect angles.  

Mobile (Being with you is like the new past) (2002) references modernist designer Arne Jacobsen, taking fragmented elements of his famous ‘Series 7’ chair from 1955 and suspending them so that they become abstracted, ghostly forms that suggest, but ultimately deny, the presence of a sitter. The title references a lyric from the song ‘Sorrow’ by the Glasgow band Life Without Buildings and the feeling of melancholy is not incidental. In resurrecting elements of iconic design, he both mourns and challenges the dream of Modernism.

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