Martin Boyce
Birch Trees And Steel (2018)

Laser cut on Velin Arches Blanc 300gsm.
76.5 x 57.5 cm [30.1 x 22.6 inches].
Edition of 30 works, signed and numbered recto.

Produced by the artist and Glasgow Print Studio


About the work

A photograph found by the artist of four concrete tree sculptures, made by the French artists Joël and Jan Martel for the famous 1925 exhibition of decorative arts in Paris, was a defining moment in Boyce’s artistic practice. Inspired by the Martel twins’ interpretations of nature, with their austere, cubist appearance, this discovery encouraged Boyce to explore a new visual language. Many of his subsequent works are interpretations of these modernist sculptures, incorporating elements of their formal characteristics into painting, furniture, sculptures, prints, lamps and birdhouses.

Also inspired by the Martel images, Boyce has created his own concrete typography which combines his interest in in sculptural and narrative language. Deriving from a grid template, this angular typeface appears regularly in his work, spelling out texts and phrases, some found or written by the artist, or overheard, mis read and altered.

In an edition made especially for the Whitechapel Gallery, Boyce uses his typography to spell out the title of the work, Birch Trees and Steel. This title also belongs to his related 2011 sculpture shown in the recent iSelf Collection at Whitechapel Gallery. In the edition, the letters have been laser-cut from the paper. The absence of the text creates a sculptural dimension to the otherwise flat paper plane. A welded aluminium frame chosen by the artist further brings the artwork into the realm of his sculptural works. The process of laser-cutting allows precision in creating the individual letters, whilst the mechanical production recalls the aesthetics of the machine age in which the original concrete trees were made. The letters have their own unity and homogeneity, common attributes of modernist architecture and design and therefore also Boyce’s artistic output.


About the artist

Martin Boyce (b. 1967, Hamilton, UK) lives and works in Glasgow, UK.

Martin Boyce's sculptures and atmospheric installations investigate the intersections between art, architecture, design, and nature. At the core of his work is an exploration of modernist design and the public realm - his installations recall archetypal 20th century landscapes, such as playgrounds, urban parks, the abandoned garden and the corporate lobby as well as modernist interior motifs and familiar objects like fireplaces and lamps presented in entirely new forms. Many of his works incorporate text, written in an angular typeface developed from a repeat pattern designed by the artist.

Boyce represented Scotland at the British Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2009 and was awarded the Turner Prize in 2011.

Selected Exhibitions


Whitechapel Gallery editions are generously donated by the artists. All proceeds from the sale of these works directly support our exhibition and education programmes.

As is traditional in editions publishing, prices will rise as an edition starts to sell out. The price shown includes VAT for EU customers and is zero-rated for customers from outside the EU. 


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