What matters to the reclusive artist, Carl Andre
The private artist reveals elements of his philosophy, poetry and parents in this exclusive exchange
The American minimalist artist Carl Andre is a mysterious figure, perhaps best known for his grid-based floor sculptures but also for large, outdoor public artworks and small sculptures, poetry and installations. At the heart of Andre’s vision lies a commitment to seeing things as elements: as separable self-contained units. In an exclusive exchange with Phaidon.com, Andre reveals key elements to his work and workings.
Q: What's important to you as an artist?
Carl Andre: The attempt to create material conditions I have not experienced before. Matter mattering.
Q: What have been key moments or projects in your development as an artist?
CA: I have always been interested in the properties of materials. The Periodic Table of elements is my spectrum. The bins of metals in my father's workshop.
Q: Can you describe the importance of materials in feeding your inspiration for sculptures?
CA: My sculptures are specimens of matter.
Q: You also write poetry. Can you say a bit about this form of expression in relation to your art?
CA: My mother wrote poetry. My father read poetry to me.
Q: As someone who has chosen to remain out of the public spotlight, how important is your art in maintaining your communication with the wider public?
CA: Attention should be paid to my sculptures and poetry, not to me.
Q: What does it mean to you to have done this book Carl Andre: Things in Their Elements?
CA: This book has been assembled by others from fragments of my work. It is like a geological core sample.
Q: What would you like readers to take away from this book?
CA: I hope that this book will give pleasure to those who read it and perhaps helps to bring my sculpture and poetry to the attention of a wider audience.
Carl Andre, thank you.
Carl Andre: Things in Their Elements is a thorough and well-illustrated account of this leading minimalist artist.