Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Gordon Matta-Clark

As I mentioned before, one of my favorite artists is Gordon Matta-Clark, who passed away in 1978. Matta-Clark started out intending to become an architect but never ended up practicing. Instead, he called his work "Anarchitecture" and explored buildings/built space by taking them apart, analyzing, literally cutting buildings up to reveal something new. Its a kind of de-construction* and it is very powerful work.

The photograph above is of Splitting, from 1974. Like much of his work, the piece is site specific, known to the public mostly in photographs. He is sometimes referred to as a photographer, but his work is so spatial, I think of his mostly as a sculptor. Rather than creating through addition, though, he works primarily through subtraction.

One of my favorite pieces of Matta-Clark's, and one of the few that I have been able to see in person (part of, at least), is Bingo (above). In it, Matta-Clark divided the facade of a house into a nine-square grid**. After cutting the facade, Matta-Clark exhibited the grid squares. At the time, the nine-square grid, developed by architect John Hejduk, was a bit of an obsession in some architectural circles and was a common assignment for architecture students. Many years later, I was assigned the nine-square grid problem so when found Matta-Clark's interpretation, I literally laughed out loud and fell in love a little bit.

There's so much more to explore in his work, and since smarter people than I have written about Matta-Clark, I encourage you to poke around on the links I've included here to find out more. The first photo here is from Tate Papers, where there are many more images and interesting thoughts from an exhibit the Tate did a few years ago.

*Not to be confused with deconstructivism, the architectural style practiced by Peter Eisenman, Bernard Tschumi, etc.
**A nine-square grid looks like a tic-tac-toe grid, just a 3x3 box. All the good images of what I mean are copyrighted, so look here real quick so you know what I mean.

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