Carl Andre

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Sculpture 43 Roaring forty (1968) by Carl Andre at KMM in Otterlo/The Netherlands - quote of Carl Andre, 1972: 'We live in a world of replicas, and I try desperately in a world of replicas to produce things that are not replicas of anything'

Carl Andre (September 16, 1935January 24, 2024) was an artist of American Minimalism in art, recognized as sculptor for his ordered linear format and grid format sculptures. His art-works involve the positioning of raw materials – such as bricks, blocks, ingots, or plates - Physical art, as he called it himself already in 1969.

Quotes of Carl Andre

chronologically arranged, after the date of Carl Andre's quotes
Sculpture 74 'Weathering Way', (2001), by Carl Andre; quote from 1969: 'Well sure, my sculptures are floor pieces. Each one, like any area on the surface of the earth, supports a column of air that weighs'
  • I realized the wood was better before I cut it, than after. I did not improve it in any way [by carving it].
    • As quoted in Abstract Art, Anna Moszynska, Thames and Hudson 1990, p. 206
    • quote after 1959, in Andre's early artistic career, when he made his sculpture 'Last Ladder'
  • Art excludes the unnecessary. Frank Stella has found it necessary to paint stripes. There is nothing else in his painting. Stella is not interested in expression or sensitivity. He is interested in the necessity of painting. Symbols are counters passed among people. Frank Stella's painting is not symbolic. His stripes are the paths of brush on canvas. These path leads only into painting.
  • Emerson writes in his Journal that all men try their hands at poetry, but few know which their poems are. The poets are not those who write poems, but those who know which of the things they write are poems.
  • The course of development
Sculpture as form
Sculpture as structure
Sculpture as place
    • short quotes of Carl Andre, in 'Artforum 1966'; as quoted in Minimal Art: A Critical Anthology by Gregory Battcock, University of California Press, 1995, p. 103
    An appropriate contractor is
    retained to place and fuse
    an explosive charge sufficient
    to produce a crater 12 inches
    deep and 144 inches diameter.
    The charge is detonated by the sculptor, Carl Andre
  • There should be no one place or even a group of places where you should be. [quote, 1969]
    • As quoted in Abstract Art, Anna Moszynska, Thames and Hudson 1990, p. 206
    • quote in: Diane Waldman, Carl Andre. Published in 1970 by Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York. p. 6
    • Diane Waldman explains: 'Carl Andre's cryptic definition of sculpture as "FORM = STRUCTURE = PLACE" is significant in clarifying not only his own development but many of the options open to recent contemporary work.'
  • We live in a world of replicas, and I try desperately in a world of replicas to produce things that are not replicas of anything.
    • quote of Andre in an interview, 1972; in Carl Andre, Cuts: Texts, 1959–2004, ed. by James Meyer, MIT: Cambridge, MA, 2005, p. 142
  • Whole poems are made out of many single poems we call words.. .I am trying to recover a part of the poet's work which has been lost. Our first poets were the namers, not the rhymers.
  • When I visit places remote from where I ordinarily work, people ask me long, elaborate questions that could not possibly have any relationship to my work. The people haven't ever seen it, and so I say: 'But my dear sir, have you ever seen my work?' The response is: 'Of course, I've seen many of your works.' - 'But where?' - 'in [the art-magazine] 'Artforum', Art in America..' - I say: 'Have you ever actually seen one of the objects, have you actually stood on one of them?'
    • quote from: 'Un entretien entre Carl Andre et Elisabeth Lebovici et Thierry Chabanne,', question 15; reprinted in the chapter 'Art and Capitalism' as 'Art and Reproduction.'

'Artists talks 1969 – 1977'

Quotes from: Artists talks 1969 – 1977, Carl Andre, ed. Peggy Gale, The Press N.S.C.A.D, Nova Scotia, Canada 2004
  • Well sure, my sculptures are floor pieces. Each one, like any area on the surface of the earth, supports a column of air that weighs – what is it? – 14.7 pounds per square inch. So in a sense, that might represent a column. It's not an idea, it's a sense of something you know, a demarked place. Somehow I think I always thought of it going that way, rather than an idea of a narrowing triangle going to the center of the earth.. .I have nothing to do with Conceptual art [in contrast to his Physical Art, as Carl Andre called his sculpture art already in 1969]]. I'm not interested in ideas. If I were interested in ideas, I'd be in a field where what we think in is ideas.. .I don't really know what an idea is. One thing for me is that if I can frame something in language, I would never make art out of it. I make art out of things which cannot be framed in any other way. [quote from a talk with the audience, December 1969]
    • p. 12
  • I like the description 'Physical art'. I think maybe art emerged when man first began to distinguish himself from nature. Art is part of himself, which he returns perhaps as an homage to the nature which he left. Of course, he never left nature. The rise of consciousness, perhaps.. .The main thing we believe, that separated us from not only animals but from the stones, is the fact that we are not stones, that we are not dogs. Now that is an assumption, perhaps it's a false assumption. But anyway, somehow I think one of the greatest functions of art is that man can feed back to his own consciousness through the knowledge that he is not a stone or not a dog. [December 1969; quote from a talk with his audience]
    • p. 12
  • As I have said many times, for me an artist is a person who says he's an artist, and an artwork is what an artist says is an artwork. Although for myself, I am not interested in ideas as the burden of art.. ..the important thing about art is how it stimulates us. I think the more you are stimulated by more different kinds of art, the more demanding you're going to become on the level of your stimulation. The key to art is experience of it and proximity to it.
    • p. 14
  • You might say that a creative person is a person who simply has a desire to have something, to add something to the world that's not there yet, and goes about arranging fort that to happen.. ..when you desire a work of art and make it, you've added to the stock of art in the world. Artists are one of the people who can do that: add to the stock of things.
    • p. 15
  • It comes to me as a desire to have something in the world. And again to quote Blake, 'It is better to murder an infant in the cradle than to nurse an ungratified desire.'.. .You might say that a creative person is a person who simply has a desire to have something, to add something to the world that's not there yet, and goes about arranging fort that to happen.. ..when you desire a work of art and make it, you've added to the stock of art in the world. Artists are one of the people who can do that: add to the stock of things.
    • p. 15
  • The Duchamp thing is played both ways. The 'Urinal' [famous 'ready-made' of Marcel Duchamp ] signed R. Mutt, is played as an art object, and then as the opposite of a legitimate art object. And it vacillates back and forth. Well perhaps that is a nice thing, but I don't know. I find Duchampianism a bore. It's very adolescent. I was very much excited by it when I was a teenager.. .My tradition is quite different. My conscious tradition is through Constantin Brâncuși, and Brancusi just strikes me as an infinitely wiser and infinitely more talented, an infinitely stronger figure than Duchamp. I think I could have done my work if Duchamp had not lived. I could not have done my work if Brancusi had not lived.
    • pp. 15-16
  • I'm an anti-Platonist, so I wouldn't say that stock was a stock of ideas or certainly not an ideal form, because I don't believe there is something out there, except out there. There's something in here and there's something out there, and there's mediation between the two.
    • pp. 16-17
  • A work will be treated as art within a certain circle – that is, within the circle of let's say ten thousand people. There are about ten thousand in the world today who are prepared to take it on face value if you present anything to them as art, they deal with it straight on as art and tell you whether it stimulates them, moves them, or not. Some of them might even buy it.. .Anyway, it seems to me that within that ring of ten thousand, fortunately, that sincerity issue [the issue: is something art or not] is over. The reason why that issue failed is that it became obvious no one would live a life of art, a life of poverty, just to pull somebody's legs. In other words, there were compensating sacrifices for what people did.
    • p. 18
  • People keep on wanting fetish figures, and things like that are very popular. That's Pop art. There was an enormous resistance to Abstract Expressionism and there still is to that school, which is not dead at all. But Pop art came as a reaction to that because kids can't paint abstract expressionism unless they're under five year of age. Because it really is tremendously hard work and it's very challenging. But the point is, people love an immediately recognizable word – if you put a word in anything, they lie it.. .I am not interested in culture at all. Once a work of art has gotten into the culture, its dead as far as I'm concerned. I think there is a difference between art and culture. Or as the sage once said, 'Art is what we do; culture is what is done to us'.
    • pp. 22-23
  • Fortunately, the less you have to rely on art materials – what are considered classic art materials which are all overpriced anyway – the more you can rely on materials at large in the culture and the more you should rely on them. The more free you are because you're not tied down to a higher-priced set of materials. That's the advantage of getting out in to the streets. I find that work I'm interested in now is made out of things which have been discarded by people – metals and things which I find in vacant lots. I don't want all of it. I want only certain kinds for certain purposes. But this is of interest to me now, just so I won't get into a trap where I have to work and continue with more and more expensive materials.
    • p. 25
  • I mean artists like Joseph Beuys, who is really a tough, strong artist. B E U Y S. He's been working in Germany for years. He doesn't bother with the burden of ideas. What he desires to do is fill your house with margarine. Let you live encased in fat, die encased in fat. He would take three hundred pounds of margarine and put it exactly where Pat Kelly is now, and then leave it there. That's sort of the tenor of his work.
    • p. 25
  • I think it's called Arte Povera. But it doesn't mean 'poor art'. It means the art which you would do out there if you were nobody at all. Aspects of this are street art and so forth. Earthworks interest me to the single extent that it means a great extension of the possibilities of materials. Dirt is a wonderful material to make things out of. And mud and rocks and things like this...
    • p. 26
  • I want to warn against being seduced by technology. I don't think that the really interesting materials to use are those miracle plastics and miracle alloys or fiber composites or anything like that. The real miracle materials are the ones which have been abandoned by modern technology. Beautiful land and things like that. I am utterly disenchanted with technology, because the super uses of technology are the ones being used in Vietnam and that, to me, is not beautiful.. .I don't say no to the new technology, I don't say no to lasers, I don't say no to advanced plastics. The trouble is, people over and over again use new materials, new materials for old purposes. I'm not interested in that. I think by using old materials you've got to find new purposes. In a way, what is abandoned is more of a challenge than what has just been discovered.
    • p. 26
  • I've been educated in some pretty lively barrooms, like the Cedar Bar in New York. And I went to high school with Frank Stella and when he got out of college he went to New York and started painting.. .I was working with sculpture in a kind of dilatory way, and he said to come up and work in his tiny loft when he wasn't there. At the same time I sort of dabbled in a little bit of painting, and a kind of confusion. I was an eye, ear, nose, and throat person too.. .One day Frank Stella just said to me, 'Look, if you paint another painting I'm going to cut off your hands.' I asked, 'Can't I become a good painter?' Frank said, 'No, because you are a good sculptor now.' That's really my formal education.. ..the company of artists is the great education. We educate each other. I've learned from older, wiser people by the old Greek method of sitting down and drinking with them. And that's how I received my education.
  • In the years when I was trying to get my work shown and accepted and so forth, I went to work for the Pennsylvania Railroad and that was my formal art school. You can learn a hell of a lot about sculpture, working in a railroad. The thing about getting a job outside of art is the fact that you can finds out whole areas of materials. I don't mean new ones. I mean old ones like scrap iron. A railroad is essentially a big collection of scrap iron, and that’s why it's great. You get out and beyond the art confine.
    • p. 27
  • So I had carved one face with hollows curving in-out, in-out, very simple really. I set the timber upright and Frank Stella came in and came over and looked at the chiseling and said it looked good. He turned around to the back of the piece which was uncut – the backside of the timber – and he said, you know that's sculpture too. I supposed what he meant to say was, that cutting was a good idea and the idea of not cutting was good too. But you know, I thought to myself, yes the uncut side is really much better than the cut side. The form of the timber was by no way improved by my cutting into it. From that time, I began to think that the next timbers I get I'm not going to cut. I'm going to combine the timbers; I'm going to use them as cuts in space. I began to look for what I call 'particles' – that is, units which are identical in shape – and finding ways to combine these particles by properties of the individual particles. That is, no gluing and no nailing and no joining.
    • p. 29
  • Magnets have an inherent quality that they can adhere to each other, so there are certain things you can do with magnets that you can't do with non-magnetic material. There are certain characteristic things you can do with very heavy things you can't do with very light things. By that, I mean it seems to me that very light things and very small things have a different characteristic way that they should be arranged, and big heavy things have a different characteristic way they should be arranged. That's subjective. I can't prove that to you. So my work is essentially combining particles – but again, combining particles according to the properties of individual particles, not imposing properties on the particles. These particles, of course, always work in a gravitational space and meet the plane of resistance that you always meet, as long as you aren't the center of the earth.
    • pp. 29-30
  • Talking about the particles, I know I don't have any special theory of particles. It's just the way it came out and that's the way I want to do it. Also, there are advantages to particles: you can't break them; they don't break apart. They don’t have any rigid connections; there are no rigid connections to break. The particles are always shifting around a little bit and you have to kick them back into shape. It's like tuning a piano every once in a while. I like the idea of something being permanent by being non-rigid, being absolutely non-rigid but not having a rigid form that can be broken. But a theory of particles, I don’t know. Maybe late one night after a few drinks I explained to Lucy Lippard a theory of particles. I'm sure I didn't remember the next day.
    • p. 30

'Minimal Art: A Critical Anthology', 1995

Quotes from: Minimal Art: A Critical Anthology, by Gregory Battcock, University of California Press, 1995
  • All I'm doing is putting Brancusi's 'Endless Column' on the ground, instead of in the sky. Most sculpture is priapic with the male organ in the air. In my work, Priapus is down on the floor. The engaged position is to run along the earth.
    • p. 104
  • Up to a certain time I was cutting into things. Then I realized that the thing I was cutting was the cut. Rather than cut into the material, I now use the material as the cut in space.
    • p. 104; from original source: a quote by David Bourdon, in A Redefinition of Sculpture, in 'Carl Andre: Sculpture 1959–1977', New York 1978, pp.19
  • My work is atheistic, materialistic and communistic. It's atheistic because it's without transcendent form, without spiritual or intellectual quality. Materialistic because it's made out of its own materials without pretension to other materials. And communistic because the form is equally accessible to all men.
    • p. 107
  • Actually my ideal piece of sculpture is a road.
    • p. 108

Quotes about Carl Andre

Quotes about Carl Andre sorted alphabetically, by author
  • The sculpture of Carl Andre is more than simply flat.. .Andre demonstrates a new use or possibly non-use of space. Several conclusions can be drawn from these sculptures ['The Razed Sites']: that it is the lowest level of space that counts most; that the space above that level can be filled without being enclosed; and that, ultimately, it is human scale that determines sculptural space.
    • Quote of David Bourdon; as quoted in Minimal Art: A Critical Anthology by Gregory Battcock, University of California Press, 1995, p. 103
  • Mr. Andre is not opposed to visitors walking on his [floor] sculptures [during the show]. He said yesterday that the friction of their feet would keep it polished and bright.. .It was rather like a used steel railway.
    • Quote of Mercia Delprat, in Artist aspires to 'fierce calm, Newcastle Morning Herald, August 1978, Courtesy The Newcastle Herald
  • That was always the thing with Minimalism, there was no content allowed of course, but only the thing in the space, that was what Sol LeWitt was always about, and Carl Andre – it was all about avoiding content. I was always very interested in this [content], right from the beginning, especially with my 'Ellipsoids' [she made 1981 - 1983]. They look like Minimalism, but in the end there is a lot going on there.
    • Quote of Isa Genzken (2009); as quoted in 'Out to Lunch with Isa Genzken', interview by Simon Denny, visiting Isa Genzken's show 'Wind', 2009, Courtesy: Galerie Daniel Buchholz, Cologne/Berlin
  • He [Carl Andre] does not mind that Minimalism is no longer the avantgarde, he accepts as inevitable that his art, which enjoyed a brief moment of glory in the 1960's and 1970's, will for some decades be regarded as passé.
    • Joanna Mendelssohn, Andre/Hunter Joint Exhibition, Art & Australia, March 1979 p. 225
  • Carl, that's sculpture, too!
    • as quoted in Naked by the Window, by Robert Katz; published 1990 by The Atlantic Monthly Free Press ISBN 0-87113-354-7; from Wikipedia: 'Carl Andre'
    • Frank Stella is noted as having said this to Andre c. 1959 - regarding the hunks of wood and paint he removed from Andre's flat sculpture
  • Look, if you paint another painting I'm going to cut off your hands.. (I [= Carl Andre] asked Stella, 'Can't I become a good painter?') No, because you are a good sculptor now.
    • Frank Stella; from: Artists talks 1969 – 1977, in 'Carl Andre', ed. Peggy Gale, The Press N.S.C.A.D, Nova Scotia, Canada 2004, p. 27
    • Carl Andre is quoting his early art-friend Frank Stella; it took place c. 1959, when the two artists joined one studio
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