Considered one of the purest representatives of minimalist art, American artist Carl Andre is known for his sculptures composed of geometric forms based on simple dimensional and mathematical principles. Fascinated by the massive rusted steel objects he would regularly see as a child near the navy yards in Quincy, Massachusetts, the artist has long favoured the use of construction materials such as bricks, wood, and aluminum or steel plates. In 1954, Andre travelled through France and England, where he visited the prehistoric site of Stonehenge. Inspired by this experience, and notably by the abstract paintings of the American artist Frank Stella, with whom he shared a studio in New York in the late 1950s, Andre focused his artistic practice on the repetition of modular elements. In the early 1960s, his material of choice was wood. In his series Element, he worked with interchangeable units which he assembled following a mathematical formula, joining pieces through simple juxtaposition and leaving them unattached. Rigour and simplicity are inherent in the artist’s conceptual approach to sculpture, rejecting any inward-looking or suggestive value in favour of an awareness based purely on the materiality of the object. Andre’s use of material elements mirrors the use of words in his poetry, that is, without proper grammar or syntax, effectively eliminating any semblance of sentence or speech. He creates elemental geometric structures based on the principles of construction, which are nearly architectural in form. His work maintains a fundamental relationship to the ground, and in some sense, has had a definitive influence on the evolution of land art in the 1970s, while being a source of inspiration for the conceptual art movement.

Neubrückwerk Düsseldorf gewidmet, 1976, Red cedar.
© Carl Andre / VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / SOCAN, Montréal (2022) • Photo: Denis Farley