Carl Andre at the Musée d'Art Moderne in Paris.
CARL ANDRE. SCULPTURE AS SPACE 1958 – 2010 (18 OCTOBER 2016-12 FEBRUARY 2017)
With the retrospective Carl Andre. Sculpture as Space 1958 – 2010 (18 October 2016-12 February 2017), the Musée d’Art Moderne in Paris pays tribute to one of the great names in contemporary American art, continuing the successful run of the exhibition project by the Dia Art Foundation that debuted in New York (2014), then traveled to Madrid (2015) and Berlin (2016), and will conclude in Los Angeles nel 2017. Curators Sébastien Gokalp, Yasmil Raymond and Philippe Vergne deserve praise for having elegantly adapted works that Andre had originally conceived for other other spaces to those of the Parisian museum, creating a harmonious and sometimes surprising narration of a career that began in 1970s New York. Alongside works that are landmarks in the history of Minimalism are curious objects like the Dada Forgeries, never before exhibited, numerous texts and works on paper, as well as the interesting photographs (1958-1961) shot by Hollis Frampton that offer an unusual portrait of the famous artist from New England.
SCULPTURE AND SPACE. A TRADITIONAL RELATIONSHIP
The concepts contained in the title reveal much about the curatorial intention of the show, specifying sculpture and space as the syntactical poles of a discourse on physicality informed by the numerous possibilities of interaction offered by space. Although consisting mainly of rectangular blocks, the sculpture of Carl Andre can be considered traditional, insofar as it also incorporates the chromatic contrasts of the materials – often raw metals like steel and copper – inviting viewers to question the works and interact physically with them. 6-Metal Fugue (for Mendeleev) (1995), one of the first installations we encounter in the exhibition, is a series of 216 tiles in aluminum, copper, iron, magnesium, zinc and lead, arranged as a flooring grid and inspired by Mendeleev’s Periodic Table of the Elements, which is measured as much by stride as by the eye.
MINIMALISM AND THE DEBT TO THE MASTERS
For Carl Andre, the approach to Minimalism of the ’60s passed through a revisitation of his masters: “All I’m doing is putting Brancusi’s Endless Column on the ground instead of in the sky”. Indeed, in the galleries that follow we encounter the groundbreaking Lever (1966) — presented by the American artist at the by now legendary exhibition of that same year at the Jewish Museum, “Primary Structures” – a deliberate homage to the purity of the ‘bodies’ of Costantin Brancusi, but also a declaration of intent which marked the passage from manipulated material to the objet trouvé. 44 Carbon Copper Triads (2005), the next work, is an ordered sequence of dozens of graphite cubes and small copper slabs which can essentially be considered an echo of the previous one: an obsessive quest for ‘zero form’, a stubborn attempt to imagine sculpture as a reverberation of the surrounding space.
I DON’T WANT TO MAKE WORKS THAT HIT YOU OVER THE HEAD
When the curators send us on a detour from the established itinerary of grids and cubes, we discover the Dada Forgeries (1959-2004). These surprising signature fakes reveal the rigorous conceptual effort underlying Andre’s work, aimed ironically at the rigidity that often bogs down critical considerations of Marcel Duchamp. A wooden limb, a nail-studded panel, or Margit Endormie (1989) — a tennis ball poised atop an iron spiral — capture well the relationship with a genre of sculpture committed to valorizing the formal and material qualities of its objects, and consequently to their perception as well. “I don’t want to make works that hit you over the head or smash you in the eye. I like works that you can be in the room with and ignore when you want to ignore them”. As such, each of his works act upon the viewer separately, and even on the largest scale manage to touch both the eye and the space that surrounds it.
Musée d'Art moderne de la Ville de Paris // until February 12, 2017
Carl Andre. Sculpture as space 1958 – 2010
Exhibition curated by Sébastien Gokalp, Yasmil Raymond e Philippe Vergne
Musée d'Art moderne de la Ville de Paris
11 avenue du Président Wilson - 75116 Paris
1. 2. 3. 4 and 5 View of the exhibition: Carl Andre: Sculpture as Place, 1958-2010 at the Museum of Modern Art of the City in Paris.
© Pierre Antoine