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"Undoing is just as much a democratic right as doing."---Gordon Matta-Clark
This revealing book looks at the groundbreaking work of Gordon Matta-Clark (1943–1978), whose socially conscious practice blurred the boundaries between contemporary art and architecture. After completing a degree in architecture at Cornell University, Matta-Clark returned to his home city of New York. There he employed the term “anarchitecture,” combining “anarchy” and “architecture,” to describe the site-specific works he initially realized in the South Bronx.
The borough’s many abandoned buildings, the result of economic decline and middle-class flight, served as Matta-Clark’s raw material. His series Cuts dissected these structures, performing an anatomical study of the ravaged urban landscape. Moving from New York to Paris with Conical Intersect, a piece that became emblematic of artistic protest, Matta-Clark applied this same method to a pair of 17th-century row houses slated for demolition as a result of the Centre Pompidou’s construction. This compelling volume grounds Matta-Clark’s practice against the framework of architectural and urban history, stressing his pioneering activist-inspired approach, as well as his contribution to the nascent fields of social practice and relational aesthetics.
About the authors:
Gordon Matta-Clark was born in New York City on 22 June 1943 and died in Nyack, New York, on 27 August 1978. He was the second of twin sons born to two Surrealist artists, Chilean Roberto Matta-Echaurren (ca. 1912-2002) and American Anna Louise Clark (1914-1997). He entered the architecture program at Cornell University in 1962 but left in 1963 and spent the following year in Paris living with his father and studying French. He returned to Cornell in 1964 and by the time of his graduation in 1968 he was among the outstanding students. In mid-1969, Matta-Clark moved to New York City and his early projects involved transformations: such as Photo-Fry (1969), Agar (1969-1970), Garbage Wall (1970), and Time Well (1971). He began executing building interventions in 1971 when he cut walls in a loft in New York City to create Sauna (1971) and at the Museo de Bellas Artes in Santiago where he made an untitled wall cutting (1971). Throughout the following years of his major building cuts, Matta- Clark continued to explore other aspects of cities and their structures. Matta- Clark married Jane Crawford in 1978 but soon passed away from cancer, two months after his 35th birthday.
Antonio Sergio Bessa is director of curatorial and education programs at the Bronx Museum of the Arts. Jessamyn Fiore is a New York–based curator and co-director of the Estate of Gordon Matta-Clark.
Published by Yale University Press in November 2017
Published in association with The Bronx Museum of the Arts
184 pages, 90 color illustrations