“My idea of a piece of sculpture is a road . . . not fixed-point vistas. I think sculpture should have an infinite point of view. There should be no one place nor even a group of places where you should be.” –Carl Andre1
Born in 1935 in Quincy, Massachusetts, Carl Andre is most closely associated with minimalism, cultivating over the course of his career a sculptural interest in site-specific, modular works that emphasize the placement and mass of such everyday materials as bricks and wooden beams. His innovative explorations also developed new possibilities for the spectator’s role in sculpture, especially in works consisting of a grid of flat metal squares placed directly on the floor, inviting viewers to walk upon it.
Early travels in Europe and work in Army Intelligence brought Andre into contact with neolithic art, Stonehenge and elements of Japanese aesthetics, all of which exerted a formative influence upon him. His early artistic influences included Frank Stella’s Black Paintings, the work of his childhood friend, the experimental filmmaker Hollis Frampton, and the sculpture of Constantin Brancusi. Of the last of these, Andre reflected, “All I’m doing is putting Brancusi’s Endless Column on the ground instead of the sky.”2 In addition to sculpture, Andre throughout his career produced critical texts, concrete poetry, and conceptual magazines. His radical departures from accepted art practices and insistence upon a non-hierarchical use of material and space have contributed to his continued centrality in Minimalist and late Modernist sculpture.
After working as a freight brakeman and conductor on the Pennsylvania Railroad in New Jersey from 1960 to1964, Andre had his first solo exhibition at New York’s Tibor de Nagy Gallery in 1965 and participated in a number of that decade’s most important group shows, including Primary Structures: Younger American and British Sculptors, Jewish Museum, New York (1966), Documenta 4, Kassel, Germany (1968), and Live in Your Head: When Attitudes Become Form, Kunsthalle Bern (1969), culminating in his first retrospective at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in 1970, when he was thirty-five years old. In 2014, the Dia Art Foundation presented the retrospective exhibition Carl Andre: Sculpture as Place, 1958-2010, which traveled to cities in the US and Europe.
In 2010, he stopped making art. He continues to live in New York City.
Meyer, James, ed. Cuts: Texts 1959-2004, Carl Andre. Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2005.
Raymond, Yasmil, and Philippe Vergne. Carl Andre: Sculpture as Place, 1958-2010. New York: Dia Art Foundation, 2014.
Carl Andre Artist Website
1James Meyer, ed., Cuts: Texts 1959-2004, Carl Andre (Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2005), 259.
2 Ibid., 62.