- Catalogue Number
- Title and Date
- The telephones
1995; reworked 1997, and reworked and retitled 2002
- Subsequent Title(s)
- Small square
- Description of Featured Image
- A view of a small public square, on a street corner, flanked on two sides by buildings. Abutting the building at the right is a tall plinth, which supports a sculpture of an enormous foetus. At the left edge of the square are two phone booths, to the right of which is a man, who walks towards the buildings. Just to the right of centre is a parking meter; to the right of this is a blank road sign. Although inscribed ‘1’, this is actually an impression of the seventh state of this print. In 2002, the matrix for the print was cut down, and the work was retitled Small square (see cat. no. E.100.1).
- Where Made
- Alphington, Melbourne
- Medium Category and Technique
- Intaglio Print: Etching and drypoint on copper
- Wove paper. Identified papers: BFK Rives paper with watermark: ‘BFK RIVES / FRANCE’ with infinity symbol.
Image size: 157 x 204 mm
Matrix size: 159 x 167 mm
- Artist’s Record Number
- RAE.104 (1995), RAE.106 (1995), RAE.147 (2002)
- Printer(s) and Workshop(s)
- States I through VI, first edition, state VII, second edition, and state VIII, printed by Rick Amor in his Alphington studio (The telephones). State IX printed by Amor in the Alphington studio (Small square). Third edition printed by Doug Hails at the Baldessin Press, St Andrews (Small square).
- Summary Edition Information
- Nine states. Three editions. First edition: edition of two numbered impressions, 1995 (The telephones). Second edition: edition of ten numbered impressions, 1995 (The telephones). Third edition (printed after plate cut down): edition of ten numbered impressions, 2002 (Small square).
- Niagara Galleries at IWOP 1997: Niagara Galleries at the International Works on Paper Fair, Mitchell Galleries, State Library of New South Wales, Sydney, 17–20 July 1997, no. 10.
- Gary Catalano, ‘A Two-Way Thing: An Interview with Rick Amor’, Imprint, vol. 31, no. 3, Spring 1996, pp. 1–4.
- State Library of Victoria, Melbourne: seven state impressions, numbered 1-1, 1-2, 2 through 6, all dated 1995 (The telephones); AP II, dated 1995 (The telephones); ed. 1/2 and ed. 2/2, both dated 1995 (first edition) (The telephones); two state impressions, numbered 1 and 2, both dated 1995 (The telephones); bon à tirer impression, dated 1995 (The telephones); ed. 2/10, dated 1995 (second edition) (The telephones); AP II, dated 1997 (The telephones); one state impression, numbered 1-1, dated 2002 (Small square); bon à tirer impression, dated 2002 (Small square); ed. 3/10, dated 2002 (third edition) (Small square).
- National Gallery of Australia, Canberra: ed. 1/10, dated 1995 (second edition) (The telephones) (2007.721); ed. 1/10, dated 2002 (third edition) (Small square) (2007.695).
With its urban setting and giant foetus sculpture, this etching follows, and is closely related to, The Bureau, 1995 (cat. no. E.090). The presence in E.100 of public telephone booths, however, projects the subject of this work away from the literary world of Aldous Huxley, which inspired The Bureau, and into an identifiably contemporary realm. The architecture at the left of the image is imagined: it is an amalgam of observed details, but is based largely on the Little Lonsdale Street facade of the State Library of Victoria, although architectural ornament from other buildings was incorporated in the seventh state.
This work exists in three main versions, the first two dating from 1995, the third produced seven years later, in 2002 (cat. no. E.100.1). Rick Amor has described the long process of creating this print, intermittently across several years, as an example of the fact that great patience is needed in the making of an etching.
The first version of the image, which encompasses states I through VI, includes the figure of a man at one of the phone booths. Amor was clearly dissatisfied with this version – in editioning it, he printed just two impressions. Speaking to Gary Catalano in 1996, the artist explained the reasons for his dissatisfaction and described how he had proceeded with the etching:
There’s a painting called The Telephones. I did a drawing first, then a print. Then I based a painting on the print, but because there were some areas in the painting I didn’t like I changed it and did another print based on that print. In the initial print there were certain things that were wrong with the perspective and the placement, which I only noticed when I made the first painting from it. (Quoted in Catalano 1996)
The major revision to E.100, in its seventh state (which followed the tiny first edition), was the removal of the figure at the phone booth and the insertion of another figure of a man, who is seen from behind, walking, hands in pockets, towards the buildings. The seventh state also saw the phone booths reduced in size. With the newly added figure smaller than the figure that had been burnished out, and the phone booths now smaller, the scale of the sculpture and the buildings increased commensurately.
Thus, in the second version of the plate, which encompassed the seventh and eighth states, the internal scale of the composition was dramatically different from that in states I through VII. In the eighth state (1997), which is not documented in Amor’s intaglio record books, the artist changed the angle of the kerb at the right so that it extended along a receding diagonal, thereby establishing a greater distance between viewer and subject.
The third and final version of the print was made in 2002, when the plate was cut down to an almost square format and the print was retitled Small square. The cutting down of the matrix eliminated the strip of decorated architecture at the left edge of the composition, together with the phone booth at the far left. The result is a smaller, more condensed, and starker, image.
- Aldous Huxley, Building, Cityscapes & streetscapes, Foetus, Sculpture, State Library of Victoria, Melbourne
Record last updated 15/02/2021