Details & Cataloguing

The Robert Devereux Collection of Post-War British Art in aid of the African Arts Trust, Sale 1


Mary Martin
1907 - 1969
signed and dated '69 on the reverse
perspex on wood
61 by 61 by 11cm.; 24 by 24 by 4½in.
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The Estate of the Artist
Annely Juda Fine Art, London, where acquired by the present owner in May 2005


British Council Exhibition, 1st Nuremberg Biennale of Constructive Art, April - October 1969, details untraced;
London, Tate Gallery, Mary Martin, 3rd October - 25th November 1984, cat. no.52, lent by the Estate of the Artist.


Alastair Grieve, Constructed Abstract Art in England After the Second World War: A Neglected Avant-Garde, Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 2005, illustrated pl.207, p.160.

Catalogue Note

'The constructions such as I seek to make are based on implications of movement and infinity by positive and negative means'.
Mary Martin, statement in Structure, Amsterdam, 1962.

Mary Martin followed her first abstract painting in 1950 with her first experiment in three-dimensional abstraction when she made Columbarium (Estate of the Artist) in 1951, the same year that her husband Kenneth Martin had made his first mobile sculpture. He described the inspiration for their move to abstraction that year,

'I spent a day at the East End home of Nigel Henderson... Eduardo Paolozzi was there and we went to his studio nearby. Told me about killed plaster - gave me some aluminium and said "Make a mobile Kenneth." Told Mary all about this. Mary made Columbarium in a baking tin as instructed, and never looked back.' (Kenneth Martin quoted in Alistair Grieve, op.cit., p.91).

Throughout the 1950s and into the 1960s Mary Martin produced a coherent body of works that used proportional and mathematical systems, such as the Fibonacci series, as their underlying basis. She utilised industrially produced materials such as perspex, plaster, Formica and stainless steel and began to incorporate bright colour from the mid 1950s. The 'Perspex Group' series, to which the present work belongs, produced in the last year of her life, relies most heavily on the concept of the machine-made element. 


The Robert Devereux Collection of Post-War British Art in aid of the African Arts Trust, Sale 1