About the Artwork

Kris Martin’s Altar is a metal replica of the multi-panelled, fifteenth-century Ghent Altarpiece by Hubert and Jan Van Eyck. Also known as the Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, the work was seminal to the development of North Renaissance painting and the landscape genre, and is still visited by countless people each day in the Cathedral of Saint Bavo in Ghent, where it is located. The artist re-presents this famous work with a twist, however: he has reproduced only the frame, leaving it bereft of its painted panels. Rather than marvelling at the sumptuously painted religious scene, in which flora, fauna, and figures are depicted with astonishing accuracy and jewel-like colours, we are invited to look through an open structure to the real world beyond. In this way, Martin asks us to re-focus our attention on the cityscape we know so well, and to forge a new sense of curiosity, devotion and wonder from this humdrum, everyday view.

Year: 2014

Copyright the artist Courtesy of Sies & Hoke and White Cube. Photo: © Nick Turpin


raw steel


530 x 520 cm

Artist Biography

Kris Martin

Kris Martin was born in 1972 and is based in Ghent, Belgium. Kris Martin's ephemeral interventions and his diverse use of found materials - from antique relics to natural or highly engineered objects - create a space of uncertainty and existential questioning. Often humorous and playful despite a profound sense of spiritual and philosophical enquiry, his work is as likely to provoke a state of mind as it is to create a visual experience. Martin presents two works in Sculpture in the City, both found objects lifted from a religious context: Bells II, and Altar. With the repositioning of these two highly charged, spiritually symbolic objects, Martin asks us to seek new value and meaning from our everyday urban experience.