Music Behind 1958–59
Harold Town, Music Behind, 1958–59
Collage on hardboard, including hardboard backing of a TV set with plastic cone, cardboard package for paint tubes, waxed paper straws, paper labels, stamps and envelope, music sheet, leaf fan, razor blade, thread, fabric, string, Arborite, corrugated cardboard, printed papers, tissue paper, and gouache, 103.2 x 102.5 cm
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa
In his collages Town often sought to immortalize contemporary artifacts and the junk that he believed would become the archaeological relics of the future. He wrote eloquently about salvaging the garbage of his times. Music Behind features at lower centre the back-panel of a TV set. The pegboard panels on which this is mounted were typically used to support the electrical circuitry of radios and stereos. Town dribbles paint down the composition, simulating elaborate electrical wiring. He pastes an Oriental fan and a page of sheet music on either side, as if to intimate the music and dance that might be magically transmitted by the receiver. Typographic fragments, labels, and a papier mâché carton add further local colour, while the whole is integrated by the red, blue, and white paint. This collage has the bold quality of an assemblage by Robert Rauschenberg (1925–2008). Town regarded it as his sole excursion into Pop art.