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Still Life 1



Imants Tillers


30 Jul 1950 -


'Moments of Inertia' 1972-73 comprised of two parts: 'Still Life 1' and 'Still Life 2'. 'Still Life 2', a system of 28 pieces, consisted of four object 'types' ('Floorpiece', 'Wallpiece', 'Boxes' and 'Frames') that each produced seven 'isomorphic transformations'. These works combined the minimalist rhetoric of Carl Andre, Donald Judd and Frank Stella with the artist's photographic and painted 'image structures' (Graham Coulter-Smith, The postmodern art of Imants Tillers: appropriation en abyme, 1971-2001, 2002). Tillers explained in a 1979 interview with James Gleeson that these 'transformations would in fact be of each property that I described before like image kind, you know, image shape, the shape of the object. They were the three main properties that changed. The transformations went from an emphasis on the image to an emphasis on the frame, which I guess was really an emphasis on looking into the object, you know, by-passing its physical characteristics, as it were, you know, concentrating on what's depicted, to concentrating on the object per se, you know, as an object. So that was the logic behind the transformations from image to frame'.

In 'transforming' the properties of one object 'type' into another Tillers demonstrated an interrelationship of 'art systems' that reflected the artist's interest in Burnhamian holistic aesthetics, as outlined in his thesis 'The Beginner's guide to oil painting' 1973.

'Still Life 1' ambitiously comprised of two 'isomorphic transformative' systems. System 1 was formulated to generate 112 objects by 'transforming' the 28 pieces of 'Still Life 2' through four stages or 'classes'. An ambitious advancement of the 'transformational isomorphism' undertaken in 'Still Life 2', System 1 was aborted after this first 'class' due to the sheer complexity of the project.

This peculiar assemblage of a ceramic sculpture and four hand drawn diagrams Sellotaped to two hinged sheets of glass, is presumably one of the 28 objects created in the failed first 'class' of System 1. The remaining '91 missing works' 1973 exist conceptually in the artist book of the same title in the collection at the National Gallery of Australia.

Imants Tillers is renowned internationally for his modular canvas board paintings that appropriate/ de-construct art history sources in an effort to investigate authorship, the exchange of images as well as notions of place and identity in the information age. The artist notably represented Australia at São Paulo Bienal (1975) Documenta 7 (1982) and 42nd Venice Biennale (1986). He was a Trustee at the Art Gallery of New South Wales (2001-2009) and most recently won the Wynne Prize for landscape painting (2012).




Media categories

Sculpture , Installation

Materials used

glass sheet, wood, hinge and screw, glazed ceramic, pressure-sensitive tape, Rotring pen on (tracing?) paper


17.9 x 38.9 x 2.0 cm

Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.


Gift of Michael Hobbs 2013


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Imants Tillers

Works in the collection


Shown in 1 exhibition

Exhibition history