• Gordon Matta-Clark: Physical Poetics
    Frances Richard
    University of California Press, 2019
    University of California Press

Gordon Matta-Clark, "Bingo/Ninths" film still, 1974, New York. Courtesy of the estate of Gordon Matta-Clark.

Gordon Matta-Clark: Physical Poetics considers language-use by the artist and architect Gordon Matta-Clark (1943–1978). A pivotal figure in the postminimalist generation, a leader in the downtown artists’ community in New York in the 1970s, and widely seen as a pioneer of what has come to be known as social practice art, Matta-Clark is celebrated for works like Splitting (1974) and Conical Intersect (1975), radical geometric cuts that turned abandoned buildings into temporary sculptural environments. Bringing the gestures of Earth Art home to the city in the era of Watergate and the energy crisis, Matta-Clark was a trickster and social satirist, as agile with wordplay as he was with power tools. Scholarship on Matta-Clark often cites the artist’s provocative neologisms, vivid descriptions and passionate arguments, yet this is the first monograph to focus on his language habits and their importance to his sculpture, performances, photographs, and films.

Self-described “anarchitect” Gordon Matta-Clark—son of Chilean painter Roberto Matta—was a trailblazing artist who worked across and between the fields of architecture, earth art, sculpture, installation, performance, photography, film, video and language. In a mercurial, gleefully unclassifiable career that was cut tragically short by his passing at age 35, Matta-Clark usurped long-held conventions regarding the built environment, most famously by enacting massive cuttings and disassemblings of derelict buildings, merging notions and practices of interior and exterior, industrial and handmade, nature and culture in startling and profound ways. His writings and working out of projects and themes on the page are equally revealing and ripe for rediscovery.

Frances Richard is adjunct professor of fine arts, painting and drawing, and visual and critical studies at California College of the Arts, having previously taught at Barnard College and Rhode Island School of Design. A celebrated poet, she is the author of Anarch. (Futurepoem, 2012), The Phonemes (Les Figues Press, 2012), and See Through (Four Way Books, 2003). Richard writes about contemporary art for publications such as Artforum, The Nation, and Bomb, and coauthored Odd Lots: Revisiting Gordon Matta-Clark’s 'Fake Estates’ (Cabinet Books, 2005). In addition, she edited Joan Jonas is on our mind (The Wattis Institute, 2017) and I Stand in My Place with My Own Day, Here: Site-Specific Works from The New School Art Collection (The New School, 2018). Richard has received a Warhol Foundation Arts Writer's Grant and the Editors' Prize for Reviewing from Poetry magazine.

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