Carl Andre died final week on the age of 88. He’s survived by his spouse, the artist Melissa L. Kretschmer, and his sister, in line with a publish by Paula Cooper Gallery, which has represented the artist since 1964. The gallery will proceed to assist scholarship on Andre’s work and is at present making ready a catalogue raisonné of his sculptures.
Andre’s profession as an artist was overshadowed by his involvement within the dying of Ana Mendieta, a Cuban American artist who was, for lower than a yr, Andre’s third spouse. When he referred to as 911 after Mendieta’s physique plummeted from the window of their thirty fourth ground condominium on September 8, 1985, he mentioned they’d a battle about him being a better-known artist. Andre stood trial for her homicide however was acquitted. Over a decade later, the decide advised a journalist that he thought Andre “most likely did it” and that the decision was partly because of the limits of allowable proof and “administrative bungling” by the district lawyer and the police, in line with Anna Chave’s essay “Grave Issues: Positioning Carl Andre at Profession’s Finish,” revealed in 2014 in Artwork Journal. The perceived lack of justice has fueled a motion to acknowledge Mendieta’s work and derail additional elevation of Andre as a central determine throughout the Minimalist motion. This coalesced in protests beneath the slogan of “The place is Ana Mendieta?” When Andre’s dying was introduced, many responded on social media with a sentiment of “good riddance.”
It’s ironic that Andre’s work seems so sober, as his life appears to have been soaked in drink. At the beginning of a 2013 interview with Barbara Rose, Andre begins, “My thoughts has been destroyed by alcohol. I hope you already know that.”
Andre’s misogyny was an ongoing matter. Chave discovered that he wrote in a textual content for a 1978 exhibition catalog: “Wooden is the mom of matter. Like all girls hacked and ravaged by males, she renews herself by giving, provides herself by renewing.” Although Andre supported girls artists, his contemporaries additionally supplied critiques of Andre’s work: Eva Hesse described his steel planes as “focus camps.”
Andre’s post-industrial works, which organized uncooked supplies in stacks, grids, planes, and compositions, retooled assumptions about what sculpture may be. They’ve additionally lengthy been investigated as proto-architectural items. Jeffrey Inaba, writing in Assemblage, voiced the concept in a 1999 essay, noting Andre’s consideration to position and the titles of his works (Redan, Crib, Coin, Compound, Nicely…) and their supplies. Lucy Lippard likened his Equivalents collection to a floorplan, and in a single 1967 set up, the an identical volumes of bricks have been massed in in another way sized rectangles in plan whereas remaining aligned to the grid of the parquet ground within the Tibor de Nagy Gallery. For the set up of Reef on the Guggenheim in 1970, Andre stacked massive items of Styrofoam between two of the constructing’s exterior columns.
Andre’s work deployed the flotsam of constructing supplies sourced from provide yards, metropolis streets, development websites, and ruins, a minimum of conceptually—later items used at occasions relied on higher-quality supplies, like titanium. (A lot has been product of his youth spent in Quincy, Massachusetts, and the truth that his grandfather was a bricklayer.) Andre retained bits of his working-class origin: He wearing overalls, maintained a neck beard that gave off Amish vibes, and most popular to put in his work himself.
His ground sculptures did effectively in galleries—gasp, you possibly can even stroll on high of a few of them!—however at occasions they escaped into town. I keep in mind a picture of Lament for the Kids put in on an outside lot in Lengthy Island Metropolis, every block aligned with a bit of the underlying pavement. To me, the blocks summoned the gridded preoccupations of architects, together with Bernard Tschumi’s Parc de la Villette. Andre’s work additionally now has darkish nod to Tschumi’s 1978 Commercials for Structure, which included a freeze-frame shot of an individual being shoved from a window. The caption reads: “To actually recognize structure, you could even must commit a homicide.”
Andre’s curiosity in issues themselves and within the labor of their association (usually they weren’t fixed collectively, and on one event, in line with Inaba, the burden of a timber construction buckled the ground of its host gallery) predates present architectural conversations about materials flows and the realities of development. Andre’s stacking or aligning bricks associated to the generic types of modernism; a few of his sculptures may very well be confused with massing fashions or volumes in a Hilberseimer planning scheme. Rose supplied that his work “may also be taken for a criticism of latest structure with its pretentious, overdesigned, eccentric facades and unique, costly supplies.”
For all of the presumed seriousness, there was some politics and humor. Andre had work in Max Protetch’s 1974 Political Artwork present in his Washington, D.C., gallery. The earlier yr, Andre put in American Decay, a 12-by-18-foot expanse of cottage cheese (500 gallons of it), topped with 10 gallons of ketchup. The work referenced Nixon’s most popular lunch throughout his presidential marketing campaign. The mess lasted for 2 days, in line with a evaluation in Artwork in America, earlier than being eliminated because of the “putrid odor which permeated the premises.”
Carl Andre’s typewriter works have been deeply influential to me. I first encountered his postmodern textual content artwork after I was an intern at The Chinati Basis. The plainness spoke to me, a teen concerned about each language and development. Andre used phrases as items, usually emptied of their that means. I favored the manipulation of the monospace grid established by the typewriter and the countless methods one might rearrange the alphabet’s 26 characters. The act of constructing befell on the web page, 1:1, quite than in a drawing suggestive of a a lot bigger construction. Structure is pricey, however textual content artwork is reasonable. Empowered by a fleet of typewriters I borrowed from my father, I churned out lots of of items within the following years. The act was calming: As soon as I discovered the route, I didn’t must assume, simply sort and rely. On the time, I simply knew I favored the work; I now know extra.
Textual content artwork usually dances on the knife-edge between critical and foolish terrains. In Artwork within the Panorama, a guide revealed in 2000 that paperwork a 1995 symposium at The Chinati Basis, Andre supplied a single web page of stacked textual content:
W E L I V
E I N E
T E R
T W E
D I E I
N T I M E
One can not argue with the sentence’s existential accuracy, however to me it lands as extremely emo, like one thing you’d see set in a cursive typeface on a t-shirt at your native mall’s Sizzling Matter.
Andre’s passing is one other invitation to inhabit the tether between the artist and their artwork. The alignment and judgment is simpler with artists than architects, maybe. Mendieta’s dying continues to be divisive; Whereas individuals proceed to protest to maintain her reminiscence alive, Paula Cooper Gallery’s announcement of Andre’s dying made no point out of it.
After Andre’s trial, a “wall of silence” set in, as explored by Robert Katz, who revealed Bare by the Window, a guide in 1990 about Andre and Mendieta’s relationship. Andre obtained a retrospective at Dia Beacon in 2014. A associated symposium cut up shows into two days, divided by the gender of the presenters. Chave recounted that Andre solely attended the day during which males have been talking.
I’ll shut this textual content with statistics, simply as Chave does in her essay. The widespread fact is that males nonetheless perpetrate violence in opposition to girls. In line with U.S. statistics from 2021, 34 % of “feminine victims of homicide and nonnegligent manslaughter” have been killed by an intimate accomplice. (By comparability, the quantity for males is 6 %.) The CDC states that “over half of girls and nearly 1 in 3 males have skilled sexual violence involving bodily contact throughout their lifetimes.” And in our post-Roe America, a wider assault on girls’s rights is underway.
Andre’s work stays on view and influential—it ought to, I believe, proceed to be checked out—however it has been altered by his motion (or inaction). Had she survived her encounter with Andre, Mendieta could be 75 at the moment. Her work was a key a part of Groundswell, which simply closed in Dallas. Nonetheless, a query hangs within the air like mud: The place is Mendieta’s retrospective at Dia Beacon?