Carl Andre is widely considered a pioneer in American Minimalist sculpture. After graduating from Philips Academy in 1953, he visited England’s Stonehenge, which he strongly admired and would influence him greatly later in life. In 1955, Andre served a year in the U.S. Army before moving to New York, where he shared a studio space with a former Philips Academy classmate, Frank Stella. Andre’s work was initially inspired by Constantin Brâncuși, which is evident in his Last Ladder sculpture that resides in the Tate Modern in London. However, while working alongside Stella and observing his ideas on space, Andre altered his approach to a series of wood-cut sculptures. Stella’s “Black Paintings” of the late 1950s revealed a new level of interlacing relationships, and it became apparent to Andre that the pieces he removed from blocks of wood were sculptures in their own right.
From 1960 to 1964, Andre worked as a conductor on the Pennsylvania Railroad in New Jersey. The railway introduced new materials such as steel, coal, aluminum, lead and brick. Andre became attuned to the simple shape of each object, as well as their interchangeability and equality of importance. Andre started using these common building materials in his own work, placing them on the floor to encourage interaction and present a feeling of mass and weight. His approach was logical, immediately understood, and the materials suggested their own shape. After 1965, Andre’s work was classified as minimalistbased on his concept of “axial symmetry,” in which the whole is the same on each side of a central axis. Conceptual art often accompanied minimalistideals, but Andre remained purely minimalist as there is no meaning to be derived from the work other than the work itself. Andre’s work is featured in significant international permanent collections as the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, The Museum of Modern Art in New York City, the Martin-Gropius-Bau in Berlin, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. and the Tate Modern in London.
Related Categories: Minimalism, Art of the 1960s, Post-War American Art, Use of Common Materials, Sparse, Land Art, Repetition, Line, Form and Color, Math, Sculpture.