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The Art Story Homepage Artists Robert Morris
Robert Morris Photo

Robert Morris

American Sculptor and Performance Artist

Movement: Minimalism

Born: February 9, 1931 - Kansas City, Missouri

Died: November 28, 2018 - Kingston, NY

Robert Morris Timeline

"Simplicity of shape does not necessarily equate with simplicity of experience."

Robert Morris Signature

Summary

Robert Morris was one of the central figures of Minimalism. Through both his own sculptures of the 1960s and theoretical writings, Morris set forth a vision of art pared down to simple geometric shapes stripped of metaphorical associations, and focused on the artwork's interaction with the viewer. However, in contrast to fellow Minimalists Donald Judd and Carl Andre, Morris had a strikingly diverse range that extended well beyond the Minimalist ethos and was at the forefront of other contemporary American art movements as well, most notably, Process art and Land art. Through both his artwork and his critical writings, Morris explored new notions of chance, temporality, and ephemerality.

Key Ideas

In the mid-1960s, Morris created some of the key exemplars of Minimalist sculpture: enormous, repeated geometric forms, such as cubes and rectangular beams devoid of figuration, surface texture, or expressive content. These works forced the viewer to consider the arrangement and scale of the forms themselves, and how perception shifted as one moved around them, which was a central preoccupation of Minimalism.
Morris's 1966 essay "Notes on Sculpture" was among the first to articulate the experiential basis of Minimalist artwork. It called for the use of simple forms, such as polyhedrons, which could be grasped intuitively by the viewer. and also described Minimalist sculptures as dependent on the context and conditions in which they were perceived, essentially upending the notion of the artwork as independent in and of itself.
In the late 1960s, Morris began introducing indeterminacy and temporality into the artistic process, referred to as Process art or Anti-Form. By cutting, dropping, or stacking everyday materials such as felt or rags, Morris emphasized the ephemeral nature of the artwork, which would ultimately change every time it was installed in a new space. This replaced what Morris posited as the fixed, static nature of Minimalist, or "object-type," art.
Robert Morris Photo

Robert Morris grew up in a suburban area of Kansas City. Early in life, he began reproducing comic strip images, a habit that helped him discover a talent for drawing. A flexible outlook at his elementary school allowed him to spend additional time honing his artistic skills. He also participated in a weekend enrichment program that encouraged the students to sketch artwork in the local Nelson Gallery (now the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art) and draw at the art studios of the Kansas City Art Institute.

Influences and Connections

Influences on Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Influenced by Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Robert Morris
Interactive chart with Robert Morris's main influences, and the people and ideas that the artist influenced in turn.
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Show influences

Artists

Marcel DuchampMarcel Duchamp
Jackson PollockJackson Pollock

Personal Contacts

Simone FortiSimone Forti
Donald JuddDonald Judd
Yvonne RainerYvonne Rainer

Movements

Abstract ExpressionismAbstract Expressionism
DadaDada
Influences on Artist
Influences on Artist
Robert Morris
Robert Morris
Years Worked: 1960 - 2018
Influenced by Artist
Influenced by Artist

Artists

Felix Gonzalez-TorresFelix Gonzalez-Torres
Barry Le VaBarry Le Va
Bruce NaumanBruce Nauman

Personal Contacts

Richard BellamyRichard Bellamy
Leo CastelliLeo Castelli
Rosalind KraussRosalind Krauss

Movements

MinimalismMinimalism
Post-MinimalismPost-Minimalism
Process ArtProcess Art

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Cite this page

Content compiled and written by Tracee Ng

Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors

" Artist Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by Tracee Ng
Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors
Available from:
First published on 21 Jan 2012. Updated and modified regularly. Information
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