"I was always fighting the rise of conceptual art. There was Joseph Kosuth's statement, 'Art as idea as idea. And I said an idea in the head is not a work of art. A work of art is out in the world, is a tangible reality. My work doesn't come from ideas - my work comes from desires." (Carl Andre)


US-American artist Carl Andre (1935-2024) died on January 24 in New York City. He was a participant in documenta 4 (1968) and documenta 7 (1982).


[The death of his third wife, the Cuban artist Ana Mendieta (1948-1985), cast a dark shadow over his career. He stood trial on suspicion of murder, but was acquitted.


As a key figure in Minimal Art, Andre was one of the most important sculptors of his generation. However, the artistic "materialist" rejected any categorization as a conceptual artist throughout his life: "My work doesn't come from ideas - my work comes from desires." He repeatedly emphasized that his art had no symbolic meaning whatsoever. This reveals a close affinity with the non-relational work of Donald Judd (1928-1994) and a proximity to the oft-quoted credo of his former fellow student Frank Stella (born 1936): "What you see is what you see." 

 

Like no other artist of the 20th century, Carl Andre pulled sculpture off its pedestal in an almost proverbial way: his serial arrangements of metal plates, industrially manufactured bricks or blocks of wood emphasize the horizontal. Visually, they sometimes merge with the floor and define the sculpture as a place. The special effect results from the embedding in the respective spatial surroundings (environment). An example of this is his work "Steel Peneplain", created as part of documenta 7 (1982), a 3 x 100 meter long floor installation made of rusty steel plates, which was integrated into the central promenade of the Auepark as a walkable path. "My idea of a sculpture is a road" (Carl Andre).


His consistent use of easily obtainable working materials made Carl Andre the prototype of a globally operating "post-studio artist". In addition to his participation in documenta, examples include his site-specific interventions at the 1970 Tokyo Biennale, the Sonsbeek 71 exhibition (1971 in Arnhem, NL) and Sculpture Projects in Münster (1977 and 1987).


Carl Andre was 88 years old.