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Carl Andre (born September 16, 1935) is an American minimalist artist recognized for his ordered linear format and grid format sculptures. His sculptures range from large public artworks (such as Stone Field Sculpture, 1977 in Hartford, CT[1] and Lament for the Children, 1976[2] in Long Island City, NY) to more intimate tile patterns arranged on the floor of an exhibition space (such as 144 Lead Square, 1969[3] or Twenty-fifth Steel Cardinal, 1974). In 1988, Andre was tried and acquitted in the death of his wife, artist Ana Mendieta.

Carl Andre
Born (1935-09-16) September 16, 1935 (age 84)
EducationPhillips Academy, Andover, MA
Known forSculpture
Spouse(s)Ana Mendieta (1985)
sculpture '43 Roaring forty' by Carl Andre at Kröller-Müller Museum, 1968. Netherlands
sculpture 'Weathering Way' by Carl Andre at Museum Middelheim, 2001

Early lifeEdit

Andre was born in Quincy, MA. He completed primary and secondary schooling in the Quincy public school system and studied art at Phillips Academy in Andover, MA from 1951 to 1953.[4] While at Phillips Academy he became friends with Hollis Frampton who would later influence Andre's radical approach to sculpture through their conversations about art[5] and through introductions to other artists.[6]

Andre served in the U.S. Army in North Carolina 1955–56 and moved to New York City in 1956. While in New York, Frampton introduced Andre to Constantin Brâncuși through whom Andre became re-acquainted with a former classmate from Phillips Academy, Frank Stella, in 1958. Andre shared studio space with Stella from 1958 through 1960.[6]


Andre's early work in wood may have been inspired by Brâncuși, but his conversations with Stella about space and form led him in a different direction. While sharing a studio with Stella, Andre developed a series of wooden "cut" sculptures[5] (such as Radial Arm Saw cut sculpture, 1959, and Maple Spindle Exercise, 1959). Stella is noted as having said to Andre (regarding hunks of wood removed from Andre's sculpture) "Carl, that's sculpture, too."[7]

From 1960 to 1964 Andre worked as freight brakeman and conductor in New Jersey for the Pennsylvania Railroad. The experience with blue collar labor and the ordered nature of conducting freight trains would have a later influence on Andre's sculpture and artistic personality. For example, it was not uncommon for Andre to dress in overalls and a blue work shirt, even to the most formal occasions."[4]

During this period, Andre focused mainly on writing and there is little notable sculpture on record between 1960 and 1965. The poetry would resurface later, most notably in a book (finally published in 1980 by NYU press) called 12 Dialogues in which Andre and Hollis Frampton took turns responding to one another at a typewriter using mainly poetry and free-form essay-like texts.[5] Andre's concrete poetry has exhibited in the United States and Europe, a comprehensive collection of which is in the collection of the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam.[8]

In 1965 he had his first public exhibition of work in the Shape and Structure show curated by Henry Geldzahler at the Tibor de Nagy Gallery.[9]

Andre's controversial Lever was included in the seminal 1966 show at the Jewish Museum in New York entitled Primary Structures.

In 1969 Andre helped organize the Art Workers Coalition.

In 1970 he had a solo exhibition at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.

In 1972, Britain's Tate Gallery acquired Andre's Equivalent VIII, an arrangement of firebricks. The piece was exhibited several times without incident, but became the center of controversy in 1976 after being featured in an article in The Sunday Times and later being defaced with blue food dye. The "Bricks controversy" became one of the most famous public debates in Britain about contemporary art.[10][11]

Quotes of the artistEdit

- "I realized the wood was better before I cut it, than after. I did not improve it in any way."[2] [quote, c. 1959; when Andre was making his sculpture The Last Ladder[12]]
- "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.. .I have nothing to do with Conceptual art. I'm not interested in ideas.."[3] [quote in a talk with the audience, Dec. 1969]
- "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."[4] [quote of Andre in an interview, 1972]
- "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."[5] [quote, between 1965-1977]
- "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."[6] [quote, before 1977]
- "Actually my ideal piece of sculpture is a road."[7] [quote, before 1977]


The gradual evolution of consensus about the meaning of Carl Andre's art can be found in About Carl Andre: Critical Texts Since 1965, published by Ridinghouse in 2008. The most significant essays and exhibition reviews have been collated into one volume, including texts written by some of the most influential art historians and critics: Clement Greenberg, Donald Kuspit, Lucy R. Lippard, Robert C. Morgan, Barbara Rose and Roberta Smith.

He is represented by the Paula Cooper Gallery in New York, by Konrad Fischer Galerie in Düsseldorf and Berlin, by Sadie Coles HQ in London, and Yvon Lambert Gallery in Paris.

Personal lifeEdit

Ana Mendieta's deathEdit

In 1979 Andre first met artist Ana Mendieta through a mutual friendship with artists Leon Golub and Nancy Spero at AIR Gallery in New York City.[4] Andre and Mendieta eventually married in 1985, but the relationship ended in tragedy.[13] Mendieta fell to her death from Andre's 34th story apartment window in 1985 after an argument with Andre. There were no eyewitnesses. A doorman in the street below had heard a woman screaming "No, no, no, no," before Mendieta's body landed on the roof of a building below. Andre had what appeared to be fresh scratches on his nose and forearm, and his story to the police differed from his recorded statements to the 911 operator an hour or so earlier. The police arrested him.[14]

Andre was charged with second degree murder. He elected to be tried before a judge with no jury. In 1988 Andre was acquitted of all charges related to Mendieta's death.[15] Andre remains a controversial figure, and museums who exhibit his work have been met with outrage from Mendieta's supporters. In 2017 protestors attended the opening of his exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, distributing postcards that read “Carl Andre is at MOCA Geffen. ¿Dónde está Ana Mendieta?” (Spanish for "Where is Ana Mendieta?")[16]

Artist booksEdit

Quincy, 1973. Artist book by Carl Andre which features commissioned photographs of landscapes and monuments in his hometown of Quincy, Massachusetts. Quincy was originally printed in conjunction with Andre's 1973 solo show at Addison Gallery, and reprinted by Primary Information in 2014.

America Drill, 2003, Les Maîtres de Forme Contemporains, mfc-michèle didier and Paula Cooper Gallery. Limited edition of 100 numbered, signed and stamped copies, 400 numbered copies and 100 artist's proofs.[17]


  • About Carl Andre: Critical Texts Since 1965, 2008, published by Ridinghouse .
  • Busch, Julia M. (1974). A Decade of Sculpture: the New Media in the 1960s. London: Associated University Presses. ISBN 0-87982-007-1.
  • Christel Sauer: Carl Andre: Cuts, DE/EN, Basel 2011, ISBN 978-3-905777-10-9
  • Rider, Alistair. Carl Andre: Things in their Elements. London: Phaidon Press, 2011.


  1. ^ Hartford Advocate November 13, 1997 "Twenty Years After Stone Field Sculpture shook the Insurance City, Carl Andre Returns" by Patricia Rosoff [1]
  2. ^ "Lament for the Children by Carl Andre on artnet". Retrieved May 22, 2019.
  3. ^ "144 Lead Square". MIT Libraries—Dome. Retrieved May 22, 2019.
  4. ^ a b c Naked by the Window, by Robert Katz published 1990 by The Atlantic Monthly Free Press ISBN 0-87113-354-7
  5. ^ a b c 12 Dialogues, Carl Andre and Hollis Frampton 1962–1963 published by Nova Scotia College of Art and Design Press and New York University Press, edited by Benjamin HD Buchloh ISBN 0-8147-0579-0
  6. ^ a b Minimalism: Art and Polemics in the Sixties, edited by James Meyer, published 2004 by Yale University Press ISBN 0-300-10590-8, ISBN 978-0-300-10590-2
  7. ^ Naked by the Window, by Robert Katz, published 1990 by The Atlantic Monthly Free Press ISBN 0-87113-354-7
  8. ^ "Carl Andre". Stedelijk Museum. Retrieved May 22, 2019.
  9. ^ "Oral history interview with Carl Andre, 1972 Sept". Research collections. Archives of American Art. 2011. Retrieved June 17, 2011.
  10. ^ John Walker. (1999). "Carl Andre's 'pile of bricks'- Tate Gallery acquisition controversy – 1976". Art & outrage/artdesigncafe. Retrieved December 23, 2011.
  11. ^ "[ARCHIVED CONTENT] Archive Journeys: Tate History – People, The Public – Tate". Archived from the original on August 2, 2013.
  12. ^ "'Last Ladder', Carl Andre, 1959". Tate. Retrieved May 22, 2019.
  13. ^ O'Hagan, Sean (September 21, 2013). "Ana Mendieta: death of an artist foretold in blood". The Observer. ISSN 0029-7712. Retrieved May 22, 2019.
  14. ^ Patrick, Vincent (June 10, 1990). "A Death in the Art World". The New York Times. Retrieved July 27, 2013.
  15. ^ Sullivan, Ronald (February 12, 1988). "Greenwich Village Sculptor Acquitted of Pushing Wife to Her Death". The New York Times. Retrieved April 28, 2010.
  16. ^ Miranda, Carolina. "Why protesters at MOCA’s Carl Andre show won’t let the art world forget about Ana Mendieta", The Guardian, London, 27 October 2005. Retrieved on 20 August 2019.
  17. ^ "America Drill (numbered)". Retrieved May 22, 2019.

External linksEdit