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Artists Carl Andre Art Works
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Carl Andre

American Sculptor

Movements and Styles: Minimalism, Conceptual Art

Born: September 16, 1935 - Quincy, Massachusetts

Carl Andre Timeline

Important Art by Carl Andre

The below artworks are the most important by Carl Andre - that both overview the major creative periods, and highlight the greatest achievements by the artist.

Cedar Piece (1959 (destroyed), remade 1964)
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Cedar Piece (1959 (destroyed), remade 1964)

Artwork description & Analysis: Andre recreated this sculpture for the exhibition "Nine Young Artists" at the Hudson River Museum in 1964, and it became the first work of his to be exhibited in public. It consists of equal lengths of standard lumber, into which he has cut simple woodworker's joints so that the sculpture can be slotted together, and then detached for the purposes of portability. The initial version dates from 1959 when he was in close contact with Stella and was observing Stella complete his paintings using repeated, even brushstrokes. Cedar Piece can be understood as Andre's early attempt to construct sculpture in a similar fashion, also by building up a form from identical units. Andre liked this approach because once he had established the initial premise, he did not have to make any further decisions about the formal composition of the sculpture. In fact, it could be argued that the sculpture composes itself, in that the shape of the St Andrews cross formed by the ends of the beams results from the regular positioning of the joints.

Cedar - Oeffentliche Kunstsammlung Basel, Museum fur Gegenwartskunst, Switzerland

Equivalent I-VIII (1966)
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Equivalent I-VIII (1966)

Artwork description & Analysis: Andre frequently works in series, producing an entire exhibition of sculptures from different arrangements of the same material, as he did for his influential exhibition at the Tibor de Nagy Gallery in New York in 1966. Here, each work consists of an equivalent number of white sand-lime bricks (120), although the eight stacks are all arranged according to a different rectangular formation. These eight sculptures are arguably the first sculptures that clearly demonstrate Andre's definition of "sculpture as place." By spreading out the bricks over the floor of the gallery, Andre wanted to generate a sense of extreme horizontality, reminiscent of the level of water. This led him to consider the layer of space between the sculptures to be just as substantial as the bricks themselves, and to emphasise this feature of the sculpture he coined the aphorism: "a thing is a hole in a thing it is not." However, at the end of the exhibition this feature of the installation was lost, because each sculpture was sold individually. Perhaps for this reason Andre remade a version of this work in 1995 called Sand-Lime Instar, in which the entire installation is considered a single sculpture.

Sand-lime bricks - Different Museums and Private Collections

Spill (Scatter Piece) (1966)
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Spill (Scatter Piece) (1966)

Artwork description & Analysis: Andre has always claimed that he looks to the properties of an individual unit or module to determine how it should be combined with others, and since these small plastic counters were too light and too small to be set down one by one like tiles in a mosaic, he decided merely to empty a canvas bag of them over the floor. This work became extremely important for defining "process art", a term which artists and critics used in the late 1960s to distinguish recent works which did not seem to fit with definitions of Minimal art. Minimalism was often associated with sculptures which had rigid, clearly defined geometric forms, and yet artists were increasingly producing objects which appeared simply to have been scattered, or dropped, or were made from materials which had no fixed shape. These sculptures were consequently described in terms of "process," as a way of highlighting that the procedure deployed for the construction of the piece was more important than the finished form.

Plastic blocks and canvas bag - Kimiko and John Powers

144 Aluminum Square (1967)
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144 Aluminum Square (1967)

Artwork description & Analysis: Andre once claimed that the "periodic table of elements is for me what the color spectrum is for a painter," and many of the materials which he uses for his sculptures are pure elements selected from the table. Andre first exhibited 144 Aluminum Square alongside identically-proportioned sculptures in steel (which actually is an iron alloy and not an element) and zinc. Visitors were encouraged to walk over the plates and compare the different physical properties of the three metals.

Aluminum - Norton Simon Museum of Art, Pasadena, California

37th Piece of Work (1969)
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37th Piece of Work (1969)

Artwork description & Analysis: Initially installed in 1970 at the Guggenheim Museum for his first solo exhibition in a public museum in the United States, this sculpture is very much a museum piece. It includes the six most commonly-used metals from the periodic table, each of which is paired with another, according to all thirty-six possible combinations. In total the work consists of 1296 individual plates.

Aluminium, copper, steel, lead, magnesium and zinc - Collection Fran├žois Pinault, Venezia, Italy

Stone Field Sculpture (1977)
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Stone Field Sculpture (1977)

Artwork description & Analysis: This is Andre's only permanent public sculpture: it is sited in downtown Hartford, close to the Wadsworth Atheneum on a narrow, nondescript strip of grass between Center Church and its accompanying burial ground, and Gold Street. The work consists of thirty-six immense boulders, which were dug up at a local gravel pit and had been discarded by the quarry owners. Andre placed the largest stone (which weighs eleven tons) at the apex of the triangular plot, then set down the next two in a row running across the site, then the next three, continuing incrementally up to the eighth row, which is comprised of the smallest stones. While the sculpture is typical of Andre's fascination with sorting and arranging objects, it can also be read as a subtle meditation on the contrast between geological and human time.

Screen print on paper mounted on Sintra with hand painting - City of Hartford, Connecticut



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Related Art and Artists

Endless Column (1918)
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Endless Column (1918)

Artist: Constantin Brancusi

Artwork description & Analysis: In this, the first of Brancusi's several variations of Endless Column, he references the axis mundi, or axis of the world, a concept crucial to the beliefs of many traditional cultures embodying the connection between heaven and earth. This focus reflected Brancusi's strong and persistent affinity for the sacred, cosmic, and mythical. Endless Column also treats another theme of Brancusi's work, the idea of infinity, here suggested by the repetition of identical rhomboid shapes. The most famous of Brancusi's Endless Columns was the version that served as the centerpiece of the tripartite sculptural memorial to fallen soldiers in World War I erected in Tirgu-Jiu, Romania in 1935.

Oak - Museum of Modern Art, New York

The Marriage of Reason and Squalor, II (1959)
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The Marriage of Reason and Squalor, II (1959)

Artist: Frank Stella

Artwork description & Analysis: Belonging to the artist's groundbreaking series Black Paintings, The Marriage of Reason and Squalor is composed of black inverted parallel U-shapes containing stripes separated by thin lines of unpainted canvas. The repeated geometric pattern, in combination with the work's lack of figuration or expressive brushwork, prompts the viewer's recognition of it as a flat surface covered with paint, rather than a depiction of something else, upending the centuries-long concept of painting as window onto illusionistic three-dimensional space. The Black Paintings' stark simplicity, impersonal handling of the medium, and use of repeated geometric forms made them enormously influential on the emergence of Minimalism, whose practitioners likewise pursued the viewer's pure interaction with the art object. Along with three other of the Black Paintings, this work was included in the seminal MoMA exhibition Sixteen Americans. As if denying the painting's evocative title, Stella issued his famous maxim "What you see is what you see," in relation to this painting.

Enamel on canvas - The Museum of Modern Art, New York

Untitled (L-Beams) (1965)
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Untitled (L-Beams) (1965)

Artist: Robert Morris

Artwork description & Analysis: One of Morris's best-known Minimalist pieces, Untitled (L-Beams) lacks any texture, trace of the artist's hand or figural content that would otherwise distract the viewer from pure engagement with the arranged forms. The work is composed of three L-shaped forms identical in every way, but positioned differently - one lying on its side, another resting on two edges, and the third standing erect. The forms' configuration causes them to be perceived as varying in size and shape. Morris's concern with the experiential aspect of the piece is revealed in his use of polyhedrons - three-dimensional solids with flat faces and straight edges whose forms and shapes could be readily grasped by the viewer. It also underpinned his instructions that the work be arranged differently each time it was to be exhibited so that viewers would experience the work differently as well.

Stainless steel - Whitney Museum of American Art

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