American minimalist artist, Carl Andre (1935) is known for his geometrical arrangement of commercial and natural materials such as bricks, blocks and plates.

His most significant contribution was to distance sculpture from processes of carving, modeling, or constructing, and to make works that simply involved sorting and placing.

Andre has sought to renegociate conventions of display, forcing a dialogue between the object and its surrouding.

Carl Andre has received this year the Switzerland’s 2011 Roswitha Haftmann Foundation Prize.

I love it because the artist does not want his sculptures to have a fixed view point, but to be experienced as more than areas or paths.


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  1. In all seriousness, could someone please point me to a valid explanation of this recurring meme of “forcing a dialogue between the object and its surrounding” which keeps popping up on Minimalissimo?

    Some of this stuff seems over the line dividing sublime from silly, but I don’t want to dismiss it out of hand (well, most of it – handing out flowers and calling the act, and the subsequent absence of flowers, “art”…um…). Why _shouldn’t_ I just open a gallery featuring my two-year-old’s concoctions as equally valid as piling two blocks of wood and calling it award-winning “art”? I’d have no difficulties writing lofty (and bogus) essays on why they’re significant.

  2. Kristian

    Why shouldn’t you is exactly right! Don’t deprive yourself! Live your dreams! But there not your dreams you say? Then that’s why you shouldn’t. Don’t try and downplay Carl Andre’s art. There is a difference between critique and simply being bitter that someone has been successful at what they are passionate about.

  3. I would have to say if someone is passionateabout stacking small piles of wood, for no other reason than the visual style it gives, or for the essay you could write about it that explains how your work defines human nature, or space time, or man’s need to understand his surroundings or somethingbogus like that.

    I disrespect you as a human being, and consider you a waste of space.

    Handing out flowers might get you by in my book though.

  4. minimalism is great.
    but this uhm stuff is just boring. sorry.

  5. i really cant´call this art.
    this ist just an arrangement of different matching objects with different surfaces.
    i can take a pleasure in these cast iron triangles or zinc-plated panel arrangement just because i like their optics and i am very into ruff industrial materials since ever.
    but stacking two ot three pieces of wood upon each other is what i did when i was 2 or 3, playing with wooden bricks..

  6. @ctd “forcing a dialogue between the object and its surrounding” is one of the biggest concerns for installation artists. We can assess the strengths and uniqueness of installation art by assessing how well and in what capacity the artist has entered into a dialogue with space.

    The ‘flower work’ is, I assume, the collaborative work I was involved with. It is by no means a stretch for me and my partner to call that art, and comes from our practice as performance and conceptual artists. We wanted to comment on and explore impermanence, and the process of reduction. What a better (and minimalist) way to explore that than through performance, a medium that is impermanent by its very nature. Minimalism is an aesthetic, but even more than that it is a philosophy.

    To everyone who doesn’t get Carl Andre, or thinks this is boring, remember that Carl Andre was a huge revolutionary, and his work was extremely controversial back in the day. He was making huge statements with his work, and in calling it art, too. It surprises me that this kind of work still sparks debate as to whether it is art or not.

    @Elli In response to: “this ist just arrangement”, exactly! Arrangement, composition, manipulation — whatever you want to call it, is what art essentially involves. A painting, for is the arrangement and manipulation of materials: a canvas, paint, etc. Once the work has been fully composed, the arrangement sticks, and becomes an object that can be picked up and sold, and will, if taken good care of, remain pretty much in the same state. Carl Andre’s work is arrangement and composition in space using industrial materials.

    As Donald Judd once said, “If you call it art, it’s art.” Art is maybe different from design in that it is nearly entirely about self-expression. It may or may not be object based, but it is ultimately trying to say something.

  7. LOL i love the recurring “what is art” discussions that inevitably show up in minimalism. (like the controversy surrounding the “covering” of John Cage’s silent track – surely the most minimalist recording ever)

    an artist Carl Andre may be, but blue collar roots emerge – he could easily use his portfolio to get a job stacking supplies at the local Rona.

  8. Carl Andre was important because he made works whose forms were dictated by their materials. He wasn’t interested in alteration, he was interested in materiality and composition. If it looks like brick, that’s because it’s a brick. If it looks like a 2×4 of wood, that is because it is a 2×4 of wood….straight-forward and honest. This interest in unaltered, undisguised material has been INSANELY influential. If you like the aesthetics of minimalist design, his ideas (and the ideas of other minimalists like Judd) helped justify these aesthetics with solid conceptual foundation.

    Minimalist sculpture is all about how the viewer interacts with the object in real space. It discourages illusion– what you see is what you get. This is a reaction to a deep and long history of figurative oil painting, where illusion is central to what you are experiencing.

    I’m just barely glossing over the art historical precedence of minimalist sculpture here, but this is basically what’s going with Andre. It’s not for everyone, but it informed a lot of what you probably DO like on this site.



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