The definitive monograph on the unique and hugely influential artist.
Thomas Crow, Corinne Diserens (ed.), Judith Russi Kirshner, Christian Kravagna
Gordon Matta-Clark (1943-1978) is one of the great heroes of late twentieth-century art, a cult figure as much in the contemporary art world as on the architecture scene, whose work is independent of any particular movement or school.
This book is the first and definitive monograph on the artist, who died at the age of 35. Born in New York and trained in architecture, Gordon Matta-Clark is most famous for his slicing through the facades, walls and floors of derelict buildings. This 'deconstructing gesture' - provocative and extreme - turns works of architecture into astonishing sculptures, where the mass of the building is entwined with the light and air that penetrate it.
Matta-Clark's interventions are always grounded in social or political convictions. Some of his projects include opening a restaurant (Food, 1971) in the then-neglected district of SoHo in New York, purchasing at auction fractions of unusable urban land in New York (Reality Properties Fake Estates, 1973), dispensing oxygen to passers-by in the streets of New York from a self-made cart (Fresh Air Cart, 1972), and other visionary urban projects that he conceived as a founding member of the New York-based Anarchitecture group. His practice remains one of the most unique, unequalled and hugely influential of the past decades.
A richly documented essay by Thomas Crow presents new and insightful perspectives on the work of the artist. Also included are original essays by Judith Russi Kirshner and Christian Kravagna, as well as a documents section composed of key unpublished and hard-to-find essays and interviews, compiled by editor Corinne Diserens.
"Stunning... Impressive monograph."—Art Review
"Whether in Paris beside the Pompidou, in an office block in Antwerp or a wharf building by the Hudson River in New York, what [Matta-Clark] did is irrecoverable – a matter now of images (photographs and films), contemporary accounts and current reminiscences. And in this respect, the Phaidon book is very valuable. In the main essay, Thomas Crow gives a lucid, informative account of Matta-Clark’s art and times, but it is the documents towards the end of the book – reprints of articles, recollections by surviving colleagues and friends, and above all several interviews with Matta-Clark himself, in which he is very articulate about his motives and tactics – that really bring his enterprise alive."—Architects’ Journal
"Crow’s text... while vividly reanimating the freewheeling 1970s… mostly works to brush off the brick-dust of history that has covered [Matta-Clark]… The book has an air of completeness not only because it is a start-to-finish record of Matta-Clark’s work… but also because it is lavishly illustrated, with each major project recorded in sketches, plans and documentary photographs. The ever-expanding world of Matta-Clark studies needs such a book, as does anyone interested in the social possibilities of sculpture. In an echo of the artists’ peeling back the skin of buildings, the spine of this hardback book has been cut away, revealing the binding beneath: a labour of love, satisfied with a job well done, allowing itself a moment of levity."—Modern Painters
"Crow is very good at weaving the biographical details of Matta-Clark’s life into the analysis of his art... Given Matta-Clark’s inspirational nature, the filmic narrative of his life and the visual impact of his work, I defy any writer to make a boring book out of him. And Crow, who is an insightful art historian, also tells a good story. Then there the generous illustrations. The pictures of Matta-Clark at work among friends and accomplices convey an infectious spirit of creative fun."—Justin McGuirk, Icon
"Gordon's work spotlights and pinpoints one of the crucial ideas of modern art - actually doing and redoing an absurd idea. This might sound strange, but he was both a Minimalist and a Surrealist."—John Baldessari, artist
Thomas Crow is Director of the Getty Research Institute at the Getty Center, Los Angeles, and Professor of Art History at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles. His latest book, The Intelligence of Art, addresses the critical and historical understanding of art objects.
Corrine Diserens is a freelance curator and artistic adviser for the Association Carta Blanca Editions in Marseille, France.
Judith Russi Kirshner is Professor of Art History and Dean of the College of Architecture and the Arts at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Christian Kravagna is an art historian and critic based in Vienna.