Carl Andre (b. 1935)

Aluminum-Magnesium Alloy Square

Carl Andre (b. 1935)
Aluminum-Magnesium Alloy Square
aluminum and magnesium
100-unit square (10 x 10)--each: 3/8 x 7 7/8 x 7 7/8 in. (1 x 20 x 20 cm.); overall: 3/8 x 79 1/8 x 79 1/8 in. (1 x 201 x 201 cm.)
Executed in 1969.
Galerie Yvon Lambert, Paris
Private collection, Bari, 1971
Anon. sale; Sotheby's, New York, 17 May 2000, lot 21
Carl Andre, Sculptor 1996, exh. cat., Wolfsburg, pp. 72 and 249.
Düsseldorf, Konrad Fischer Gallery, Carl Andre, October-November 1969
Paris, Galerie Yvon Lambert, Carl Andre, February-March 1971.

Lot Essay

This work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity signed by the artist and will be included in the forthcoming catalogue raisonné as no. RS 1969-31.

'Most of my works--certainly the successful ones--have been ones that are in a way causeways--they cause you to make your way along them or around them or to move the spectator over them. There should be no one place or even group of places where you should be' (quoted in D. Bourdon, "A Redefinition of Sculpture," New York, 1978, p. 16).

Carl Andre's assembled seven-inch square sheets of ready-made metals to comprise the dynamic, modular floor sculpture,Aluminum-Magnesium Alloy Square. The work is the result of a series of complex and revolutionary ideas, among the most paradigmatic of all Minimal art in the 1960s. In ridding sculpture of all that was unnecessary--figuration, verticality, motion--Andre came upon a solution. With his square grids of metal laid upon the floor, Andre pushed sculpture "to a greater literalism than anyone ever imagined. It was a literalism, first and foremost, of materialsbased so nakedly and explicitly on the facts of the real world as to suggest a revitalized and wholly different realism" (P. Leider, "To Introduce a New Kind of Truth,"New York Times, 25 May 1969, sec. 2, p. 41).

Aluminum-Magnesium Alloy Square is on of the earliest of the square floor sculptures that Andre produced, a prime example of Andre's sculptural "literalism" working to full effect. First exhibiting the idea in 1967 at the opening of Konrad Fischer Gallery in Düsseldorf and achieving new levels in 1970 when 36 works became a giant centerpiece of the artist's celebrated exhibition at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York.

Andre dedicated himself to the truth of his materials, in this case the smooth hardness of aluminum and the dense weight of magnesium. Gravity cannot be truthfully defied and so the metals are placed upon the floor. Consisting of 100 metal plates laid in a checkerboard pattern on the ground, the present lot is explicitly meant to be stepped upon, a radical breakthrough in the history of the medium. Walking into the sculpture the viewer interacts with the work in a way that is usually expressly forbidden for art.

The most important influence on Andre was the sculptor, Constantin Brancusi, who's ability to pare down the forms of our perceived sculptural reality to their essence. In Aluminum-Magnesium Alloy Square, Andre adapts Brancusi's legacy but rather than cutting the material he used, Andre uses the material itself cut into the space. Within this highly structured space of "literalism" however, resides a rich physical beauty offered to the viewer. Peter Scheldahl calls this a "poetry of materials" and likens it to a heightened sensitivity of the viewer--to colors, textures and the interplay of surfaces visually taken for granted. Aluminum-Magnesium Alloy Square offers the poetic potential of a truth of material and after forty-years, the object still feels as fresh and radical as when it was first conceived.

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