Conroy Maddox (1912-2005)
Conquest of the Irrational
signed and inscribed 'Conroy Maddox 46' (lower right); signed again and inscribed 'CONQUEST OF THE IRRATIONAL/Collage/Painting 1946./Conroy Maddox' (on the reverse)
oil and collage on card
17¾ x 13¾ in. (45.2 x 35 cm.)
Executed circa 1970.
Anonymous sale; Phillips, London, 11 November 1986, lot 169.
Anonymous sale; Christie's, South Kensington, 17 December 1987, lot 132.
London, Hamet Gallery, Conroy Maddox, January - February 1972, no. 50, n.p., illustrated.
London, Austin/Desmond Fine Art, Aspects of Modern British Art VII, 1989, no. 27, p. 19, illustrated.
Stoke on Trent, Museum and Art Gallery, Surreal Enigmas, April - May 1995, no. 23.
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Maddox was active as a surrealist until 2003 and became increasingly irritated with the growing assumption that Surrealism had ended shortly after the Second World War. His annoyance came to a head in 1978, when the Hayward Gallery’s exhibition Dada and Surrealism Reviewed presented Surrealism as defunct by the 1940s. To prove this wrong, Maddox mounted the simultaneous and appositely titled exhibition Surrealism Unlimited, which demonstrated the converse. Even before then, Maddox had been challenging what he regarded as a misguided obsession with dates among academics. To this end he occasionally mis-dated some of his works, either making them earlier or later than their completion. In Maddox’s own words, this was ‘a Surrealist joke’ to rebuff those who considered the date of a work more important than its content. He used two methods of mis-dating; ‘primary’, when the hoax dating would be made from the outset, or ‘secondary’, when an inscribed date would be altered, sometimes years after the work’s completion. Like Passage de l’Opéra (1940/1970) in Tate, Conquest of the Irrational incorporates a ‘primary’ hoax dating. We are very grateful to Silvano Levy for his assistance in preparing this catalogue entry, and those for lots 26 and 28.
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