Carl Andre’s star is ascendant. Again. This is ironic because the artist has long ago earned his place in the canon of art history. But he hasn’t been much of a presence on the gallery scene. Slowly but surely we are seeing Andre pieces reemerge in the exhibition landscape, no doubt catalyzed by the fact that the Dia Art Foundation is planning a major retrospective which opens in the spring of 2013.
Look, separating personal history and art history can often be a conundrum. But acknowledging Andre’s particular “Post-Studio” paradigm is essential however and what better way than to see the work in person.
Ace Gallery‘s Mid-Wilshire shopping Mall sized gallery contains an excellent example of the trans-formative nature of his sculpture. Rise, 2011 is comprised of 19 sheets of cold rolled steel. Each sheet is 12 feet long and bent at a 90 degree angle at the center creating an L-shaped unit. These units are abutted along the length of the gallery’s longest wall creating a corridor of sorts. The lighting accentuates the hidden space seen from its face. There’s a poetry of reticence at work in the room and the feeling is certainly not for all to savor. On the surface, there doesn’t seem to be much there there. But for those who linger, an unapologetic matter of factness is unavoidable.
Andre’s piece at Gagosian is part of a larger group show titled The Floor Show: Gravity and Materials. His contribution is titled The Void Enclosed by Lead and Copper Squares of Three, Four, and Five (1998). It’s more intellectually lyrical than the Ace offering. The composition is a visual illustration of the Pythagorean theorem of a2 +b2 = c2 which determines the length of the hypotenuse of a right triangle. The void in the title is the triangle and the sides are units of 3, 4 and 5 respectively. These units then become the three grids of alternating lead and copper representing the squaring of the numbers: 9=16=25! I maintain that the visual elegance on display does not require this knowledge. Furthermore the metaphysical use of copper (conductivity) and lead (impenetrability) activates senatorial allusions that may or may not be conscious.
It’s stone cold wonderful to see these pieces. The entire landscape of sculptural givens owes a huge debt of gratitude to Carl Andre’s clear and deceptively simple compositions.
The Ace Gallery Exhibition continues through September 8th, 2012
The Gagosian Exhibition continues through July 28th, 2012.
-Mario M. Muller, Los Angeles, July 15th, 2012
also by Mario M. Muller
- Mid-Century Modern at LAMA Auction House, Van Nuys - February 20th, 2014
- Robert Therrien at Gagosian, Beverly Hills - January 22nd, 2014
- Art Fair Season in Los Angeles - January 15th, 2014
- Roy Dowell at Various Small Fires - October 14th, 2013
- Leon Benn at Carter & Citizen - September 13th, 2013