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ROBERT MORRIS

THE MIND/BODY PROBLEM

Ik

ROBERT MORRIS
THE MIND/BODY PROBLEM

SOLOMON

R.

GUGGENHEIM MUSEUM

GUGGENHEIM MUSEUM SOHO


JANUARY-APRIL

1994

1994 The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation,

New York
All rights reserved

ISBN 0-89207-1 17-6 (hardcover)


ISBN 0-89207-120-6 (softcover)
Printed in the U.S.A. by Hull Printing
All Robert Morris works 1994 Robert Morris.
Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Guggenheim Museum

Publications

1071 Fifth Avenue


New York, New York 10128

Hardcover edition distributed by


Rizzoli International Publications, Inc.

300 Park Avenue South


New York, New York 10010

Photo Credits
Works by Morris, by catalogue number: 1, Bruce C.
Jones, courtesy Leo Castelli Gallery. 2. 7, 11, 14, 16, 20,
24, 34, 39, 50-51, 54, 62, 71, 73-74, 76, 80-82, 86-87,
89, 98, 103, 107, 126. 130-33, 137, 139, 141, 149-51,

courtesy Leo Castelli Gallery; 6. 15. 141 (details),


Robert Morns. 12. 28. 33. 61, 64, 68, 77. 104. Rudolph
Burckhardt. courtesy Leo Castelli Gallery; 18. Axel
Schneider. Frankfurt am Main; 21-22, 94, 148, 1993
The Museum of Modern Art. New York; 23. D. James Dee;
25. 29. Dorothy Zeldman; 32. 40. 58. 106. Walter
Russell, courtesy Leo Castelli Gallery; 35, Carl Kaufman
Yale University Art Gallery. 41, Geoffrey Clements.
New York, courtesy Leo Castelli Qallerji 42 Rudolph
Burckhardt, 45-49. 95. Eric Pollltzer, courtesy Leo
lli Gallery; r>:i. Waltai J
Russell; 55, 1963 Peter
.7 finsetsj. 83 (mset), Babette
Mangolte 1993. 57. 1964 Peter Moore; 60. 1993
The Art Institute of Chicago. All Rights Reservod
|J9, 1965 Pet.
Moon S3 bottom), Ha&s Namutb
75. Giari SlnigagUa, Milan; 78. Joseph Klun.i lr
79,
mi. Linda Loughi an
in
sy Virginia Museum ol Kim- ahm. Ri< nmond; 85,
Lynn Rosenthal 18
o
91. i Andre
i

Pti

i.

Boi

ima

Will

Brown courtesy Leo

New York

Ga

Castelli

d Gallery

13, IS

iphy,

Rosalind Ki-uubb,

130

Bevan Davies
Miiiiimo Capoi

Museum

Abbot
Abbi

Pine ArtH.

"i

DuBrook Photogi apbei

Castelli Qallerj

adman

i<.

John Bei

Jon
i

ilk

111

'

Bun khardl

19

JOBI
Pi

B<

Johl
pi

<

(i

talli

Moon

Rudolpb

Ni-w York

N
LBS

Bl

This exhibition has been supported by the


Sony Corporation of America; the National
Endowment for the Arts, a Federal agency;
and The Bohen Foundation.

CONTENTS
xii

PREFACE
Peter Lawson-Johnston

xvii

INTRODUCTION
Thomas Krens

THE MIND/BODY PROBLEM:


ROBERT MORRIS IN SERIES
Rosalind Krauss

18

WAYWARD LANDSCAPES
Maurice Berger

34

HAVE MIND, WILL TRAVEL


David Antin

50

FRAMEWORKS
Annette Michelson

62

WALL LABELS: WORD, IMAGE,


AND OBJECT IN THE
WORK OF ROBERT MORRIS
W.J.T. Mitchell

80

ON ROBERT MORRIS
AND THE ISSUE OF WRITING:
A NOTE FULL OF HOLES
Jean-Pierre Criqui

39

CATALOGUE
Kimberly Paice

303

BIBLIOGRAPHY AND
EXHIBITION HISTORY

NOTE
Although this monograph is published on the
occasion of a comprehensive retrospective
at the Guggenheim Museum, the catalogue
section is not meant to be a representation of the
exhibition per se. Rather, it has been conceived
as a thematic overview of that same range
of Robert Morris's career featured in the
retrospective, arranged roughly chronologically.
In the catalogue, Morris's art works are
numbered; these catalogue numbers are used as a
cross-referencing tool throughout this book. For
example, when Two Columns (1961) is discussed,
it is referred to as "no. 1" because it is the first
of Morris's works illustrated in the catalogue,
and so forth. In many cases, the works are
illustrated with archival photographs taken at
the time of their first exhibition. Often, the
originals were never meant to exist as unique art
objects; instead, they were intended to be made,
a down, and refabricated as they were moved
from one installation site to another. Thus.
there is not a one-to-one correspondence between
the objects in the exhibition and those illustrated
in the catalogue. All art works reproduced
in this monograph are by Morris unless
otherwise noted in the captions.

CATALOGUE
ENTRIES
90
94

96
100
104

106
112

COLUMNS, 1961
PASSAGEWAY, 1961
BOX FOR STANDING, 1961
PORTALS, 1961
BOX WITH THE SOUND OF ITS OWN MAKING.
EARLY MINIMALISM
THE DUCHAMP CONNECTION

122

I-BOX, 1962

126

CARD

130

CABINETS, 1963

132

134

METERED BULB AND LOCATION,


MEASUREMENT, 1963

142

SELF-PORTRAITS, 1963

148

MEMORY DRAWINGS,

154

ROPE AND KNOTS, 1962-64

158

ARIZONA, 1963

160

21.3. 1964

FILE, 1962

1963

1963

162

IMPRINTS AND BODY CASTS. 1963-64

168

SITE, 1964

170

GREEN GALLERY SHOW. 1964-65


MIRRORED CUBES, 1965
RING WITH LIGHT, 1965-66

172

176
178

WATERMAN SWITCH,

180

PERMUTATION, 1967

184

202

SERIALITY
INDUSTRIAL FABRICATION
LEADS
HEARING. 1972

206

MESH

212

FELTS, 1967-83

224

STEAM, 1967

226

THREADWASTE,

230

DIRT, 1968

234

CONTINUOUS PROJECT ALTERED DAILY.


OBSERVATORY, 1971-77

188
192

238
240
244

250

VOICE, 1974
IN

282

288
292
296

1968

1969

RUBBINGS, 1972
BLIND TIME DRAWINGS. 1973
LABYRINTHS, 1973-74

262

274

1965

PIECES. 1966-68

256

268

1961

THE REALM OF THE CARCERAL.


MIRRORS INSTALLATIONS. 1977
CURVED MIRRORS. 1978

1978

HYDROCALS. 1982-84
FIRESTORMS. 1983
INVESTIGATIONS. 1990
BLIND TIME IV (DRAWING WITH DAVIDSON). 1991

PREFACE

Peter Lawson- Johnston

That the Guggenheim Museum has undertaken


a major retrospective devoted to the work or" Robert

the nearby Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute,

perfectly in keeping with

rris ib

The Guggenheim

was, at

founding

its

then under the directorship of George Heard

Hamilton. The experience

history.

its

devoted

in 1937,

to "non-objective" painting; while the scope of the

museum's

The Guggenheim's commitment

Biumo

Minimalist and Conceptual art

Among

the 1960s

ot

new work and


experience

Morns was born


artistic

in

ISM

art in general

horizons were formed by the

raisonne

Abstract Expressionism, which he became

rise of

Francisco School of Fine Arts

and Heed College

when he began

195355). Thus,

San

make

Morns discovered

of

in

avant-garde dance,

in

Morns

In the early 1960s,

make

painting and began to

out of industrial materials.

large-s< ale

initially

le

but encompasses

conceived

artisni output, whi< h on ludes not only

Andre, Dan Flavin,

.irl

and Robert Smithson. By

ot

the Williams

the Massac husetts

the form

ol tins

Museum

ol

massive

fa<

an institution

ol

torship

ol tin

Du< hampian readymades;

wall

fell

Ins In In

acquire

ulptures; giant

si

1988, Krens

In

hnology spinning out

ol

oui

Tin announcement of thi Morris project in 1989


n

an

ai

I.

no-

the past thru

ol

important

roll

nlii

mi

d<

.or in tin

to
,i

in

1976,

An

<

iitral roll

also n

It

)'

On din torship
h.

In

.i-.'.o.

when Krens
parti

I" a<

tin

M
i

ii

in

.i.illi .1

.a tin
I

for

ijed
in

<

.in. in

ampu

was

iiii'i'i

nlii

li

foi

'I

'

'

program

in.

.i.

a inoiiiiiiii nl.il

mi

Musi

um

in thi

xhibition

Rosalind Krauss

to

long

inuioi

Kn

ir.

shaping
ai

round, (hen,

hi

1<

was joined

Krauss,

i.i

ot

in the

world

ai si In

Iii

1.

for

not surprising

is

run

lik<

in
.

Krens, has a long-

i.

an

role in the

Professoi ol

us founding

in

L976

nous wen u shaped


hi

An

listory

Krauss has been coeditoi

niv< isu\.

the

l<\

and theorist

with Morris's work; and, as with

ideas aboui

1960s through

civt

Solomon

in ur.iloi

dus task

work played an important

ol hei

in.

own

it

idation, but as

n lationship

olumbia

produi ed

ruggenheim has

apa< ity as Director of the

<

Sol l"

interior courtyard ol

m museum

to act

the 1960s and 19 '0s

distinguished an historian,

standing

>H\

xhil

and pn tented

ot

the

tailed to

Krens should undertake the Morris retrospei

oi tin

Assistant

'

.ii

K Guggl nlu

in

th<

iation I" twi

then

.m

ii

art

this acquisition, the

noi merely in his

\\ illiams Coll

.u

in Willi. in

'>i

With

\\ ith this b.u ks

cted thi

fli

thai

ill'

iii

had played

h k

Krens

two began

."It s

thai

in. in. r.

tin

nl ol his

depth the most important

the mosi promini

ie

Ami

ontrol.

<

in

assumed

ontinued

<

American museums lud

that

1950

sinci

and installations that examine the omnipresent threat


ol ce<

complex

ruggenhi im, w here, with Ins

acquisition of the Panza Collection, he

labyrinths and earthworks; intimati drawings;

to

ontemporarj

tory

on

histo

ol ari

was

art into a reality that

while illuminating

continuity

museums

projection about

ol his

but legendary performances thai parody art criticism


thi

ollcgc

North Adams, Massachusetts, would become a


a< ul.ir demonstration ol the new aesthetic in

din

ulpture

si

Art, and from that position he undertook

ol

The conversion

Art.

dan

1961

ol

as

Serra,

and large-scale Minimalist

me

ordinary rangi of Morris's

Museum

ulptun

S<

his sculpture in connei tion with avant-garde

This exhibition begins with works

enormous achievement

the transformation

bui abandoned

all

radicalit) of experience ol the

generation, which includes such artists

had assumed the directorship

Modern

of

dance such as thai choreographed by Martha

Graham.

thai art

this time, Krens. in addition to his teaching duties,

whi< h young

performers were critiquing the expressivity

and the

ol stale

Donald Judd, Richard

dissatisfaction with Abstract Expressionism

was paralleled

on-going.

general were not prepared to service the

in

art ol Morris's

growing

thai Ins

museums
demands

his career as a

expressive and gestural art works. In the late

1950s, however,

in five years, but,

is still

<

painter, he shared Abstract Expressionism's goals


to

such a prolific creator,

is

catalogue

By the mid-1980s, Krens was on\ inced

50), th<

>,

the

oeuvre, a project that was

heduled to be completed

si

nse he

at

the Kansas City Art Institute (1948


1951

own work,

he began work on

In 1978,

of Morris's

originally

aware of during his years as an art-school student

related to the scope of Morris's

first

second connected to Minimalist and Postminimalist

Kansas City, Missouri

in

the powerfully revolutionary aesthetic

could shape.

it

Accordingly. Krens began to act on two fronts, the

and 1970s

the more than three hundred works acquired

were thirty-four pieces by Robert Morris.

His

and the compositional openness of that

installation,

to

Amen

collection of

to

1960s and

the importance of the scale, the conditions of

abstraction culminated in 1990, with the acquisition

of the prized Panza di

of

1970s art, produced in Krens strong convictions about

that area, abstract art has remained a central focus of

the institution.

power

conceptualize the aesthetic ambitions

expanded well beyond

collection has been

working with Morris to

of

realize the piece, as well as Morris's

icpi rii

nc<

ol

at

ol

Krauss's
(hi

end

Minimalism,

most particularly that of Morris and

Serra, an

experience that revised her sense of the import of

and editing of the complicated range of materials that


comprises this book was superbly handled by the

Modern

Guggenheim's Publications department, headed by

It was out of the conceptual


work inspired that she wrote the

sculpture.

revelations their

Anthony Calnek, Managing

Editor.

seminal book Passages in Modern Sculpture (1977) and

edited this book with great talent.

came

Assistant

important exhibitions of

to organize various

contemporary sculpture. This has meant that

for her,

Managing

Deborah Drier
Edward Weisberger,

many

Editor, skillfully handled

editorial aspects of the book,

and Elizabeth Levy,

too, the project of curating a Morris retrospective has a

Production Editor, played an important role in

certain historical inevitability.

The nature of the work made special


demands on the design of the catalogue, demands more
than met by Design Writing Research, New York City.

In beginning to plan this retrospective, the


full-scale presentation

two curators shared

devoted to the

first

the

artist,

a conviction that the richness

and

complexity of the context of Morris's work could


only be served by weaving together
aspects in order to

show how they

project. Therefore, they felt,

Morris's performance

it

all its

been engaged

various

create a continuous

was crucial

we

who

grateful to Babette Mangolte,

and film

crucial to

its

realization.

directed the films

who had

Waterman Switch, generously advised

lent their talents to the reconstructions

Blankensop,

Andrew Ludke, Michele

Sarah Tomlinson, and Pamela Weese

Stella,

our warmest thanks. At the exhibition

offer

itself,

these performances are

medium

shown

made

by the National

joined in

its

support of

Endowment

essays:

we turned

its

critic

this

Maurice Berger; Jean-

du Muse'e, Paris;
Annette Michelson, Professor of Cinema Studies, New
York University, and coeditor of October; and W. J.T

Much

of

the original research that appears in this catalogue


to the

Archive, deposited by the artist at the

Kimberly

Robert Morris

Guggenheim.

Paice, Project Coordinator, utilized this

material in the course of her research to

document

the development of Morris's work; this research led to


the catalogue entries in this book.

The

staff,

including Scott Wixon, Manager

Technician, have been instrumental in the

coordination

is

who

due

to the skill

and devotion of

much

executed the refabrication ot

of the early work for inclusion in this exhibition: Peter

Read,

multiple

Mitchell, editor o( Critical Inquiry, Chicago.

Museum
Museum

those people

Pierre Criqui, editor of Cahiers

was made possible through access

Her

acknowledgment

to a variety of writers to contribute

poet David Antin;

all facets

preparation and installation process. Particular

for the

and The Bohen Foundation.


The complexity of Morris's work made special
demands on the team that conceived and produced
catalogue. In an effort to deal with

Myers, Administrator for Exhibitions and

Manager of Collection Services; Peter Costa, Senior


Technician; and Joseph Adams, Senior

Arts, a Federal agency,

aspects,

L.

Programming, who superbly handled

Graphic Design Services; Anibal Gonzalez-Rivera.

possible by the Sony

The Sony Corporation was

Pamela

Senior Lighting Technician; Cara Galowitz, Manager of

Corporation of America.

this exhibition

financial matters.

exhibition.

of high-definition video. Such a dramatic

presentation was

Husten, Manager

of Installation and Collection Services; Laura Antonow,

new

via the

Amy

of Budget and Planning, coordinated the complex

of design, fabrication, lighting, and installation for this

Pogliani,

Michael

information and assistance regarding the care and

This project has made extraordinary demands on

Susan

we

in the exhibition. Elizabeth Estabrook,

display of the diverse objects.

us on this production. To the dancers and performers

who

as compiler of

Associate Conservator, has provided important

herself appeared in the original 1965 performance of


Morris's

document

effort to

first

Lynne Addison, Associate Registrar, has


works included

are extremely

Lucinda Childs,

Guggenheim's

successfully handled all aspects of the assembly of the

superbly; her devotion to this aspect of the project

was

in the

and present Robert Morris's work,


for the present exhibition.

those performances for inclusion in the exhibition.


In achieving this ambitious goal,

also coordinated the exhibition's

the catalogue raisonne, and then as Project Coordinator

to bring

juxtaposition with his early sculpture. To this end, the


to reconstruct

Kimberly Paice

multiple aspects. Over the course of four years, she has

works of the 1960s into direct

Guggenheim undertook

its

realization.

Manager of Fabrication

Jr.,

Services; Jon

Johnson,

Museum Technician/Carpenter; David


Museum Technician Carpenter; Josh Neretin,

Museum

Technician/Carpenter; Timothy Ross,

Brayshaw,

Technical Specialist; William Graves, Chief Engineer;

and Andrew Ludke, Morris's studio


Finally, our warmest thanks go

assist

CO

Robert Morris

whose cooperation was crucial to the


mounting of this exhibition. In addition to overseeing
himself,

the refabrications of
lent generously

Irom

many of
his own

his earlj works,

collection and

deeply involved with the myriad aspe<


installation
in large

ts ol

he

became

the

and catalogue, The exhibition's mk

measure

function ol his

ess

is

efl

II

THE SOLOMON

R.

HONORARY TRUSTEES

IN

GUGGENHEIM FOUNDATION
PERPETUITY

Solomon R. Guggenheim
Justin K. ThannhaustT

TRUSTEES
Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe

The Right Honorable


Mary Sharp Cronson

Peggy Guggenheim

Earl Castle Stewart

Elaine Dannheisser

PRESIDENT

Michel David-Weill

Peter Law son-Johnston

De Benedetti
The Honorable Gianni De Mi Jul is
Robert M. Gardiner
Carlo

VICE-PRESIDENTS
The Right Honorable
Wendy -J McNeil
I.

Robert

Gardiner

F.arl

Castle Stewart

Jacques Hachuel Moreno


Rainer Heubach

Barbara Jonas

Thomas Krens

DIRECTOR
Thomas Krens

Piter Lawson-Johnston
Samuel J. LeFrak
Peter B. Lewis

Wendy

I.-J. McNeil
Edward H. Meyer

Marcel

Ospi

L.

Ronald O. Perelman
Michael M. Rea
Richard A

M.D.

Rifkind,

Hem/ Ruhnau
Denise Saul

Rudolph
Terry

B.

Schulhof

Semel

James

Sherwood

B.

Raja Sidawi

Seymour Sine
Peter

W Stroh

phen

<
Swid
John S W.ulsworth,

St<

Ram

leigh

Warner,

Jr.

Jr.

Weber
had
Wettach

Jiirgen

Mi,

fohn Wilmerding

Donald

Wilson

WilUam T Ybisakcr

HONORARY TRUSTEE
Mme

Pompidou

laude

TRUSTEE, EX OFFICIO
I

in:'

\li

ISI

Ik

DIRECTOR EMERITUS
Thomas

Messei

PROJECT TEAM
COCURATORS

Mary Ann Hoag

Rosalind Krauss

James Hodgson

Thomas Krens

Elvis

EXHIBITION COORDINATOR
Kimberly Paice

EXHIBITION AND TECHNICAL SERVICES


Pamela

L.

Myers, Administrator for Exhibitions and

John

Henry Klimowicz
Andrew Ludke
Daniel McCarthy
James McCaul
Gary Nichols
K. Tregar Otton

Programming

Steven Plaxco

Lynne Addison, Associate Registrar

Thomas

Elizabeth Estabrook, Associate Conservator

Samuel Reveles

Amy

Phillip Rivlin

Husten, Manager

of

Budget and Planning

Radloff

Cara Galowitz, Manager of Graphic Design Services

David Rogers

Michelle Martino, Graphic Designer

Robert Seng

Laura Antonow, Senior Lighting Technician

Paul Shore

David Heald, Manager of Photographic Services

Adnene Shulman
Richard Sigmund

Lee Ewing, Photographer

Samar Qandil, Photography Coordinator


Wixon, Manager of Installation and Collection

Scott

Michael Stern

Eugene

Tsai

Services
Peter Read, Jr., Manager, Fabrication Services

Anibal Gonzalez-Rivera, Manager, Collection Services

Museum Technician
Museum Technician
David M. Veator, Senior Museum Technician
Robert Attanasio, Museum Technician
Lisette Baron Adams, Museum Technician

ADDITIONAL CURATORIAL STAFF AND


INTERNS

Joseph Adams, Senior

Carla Grosse, Research Assistant

Peter Costa, Senior

Jennifer Blessing, Assistant Curator

Jennifer

Abrams

Sonja Bekkerman

Jon Brayshaw, Carpenter

Lori Beth Carsillo

James Cullinane, Museum Technician

Chrystine de

Jocelyn

Groom, Museum Technician, Administration

Bryn Jayes, Museum Technician


David Johnson, Carpenter
Josh Neretin,

Museum

Technician/Carpenter

Timothy Ross, Technical

Specialist

Museum Technician
Dennis Vermeulen, Museum Technician
Guy Walker, Museum Technician
William Smith,

Amy

la Verriere

Fennell

Shana Gallagher

Uta Klinger
Haike Laufmann
Lisa Leavitt

Irene

Mees
Menendez

Ingrid

Maria Soledad Perez Valverde

Begofia Anduiza, Technical Services Intern

Allegra Pcsenti

Mark DeMairo,

Caterina Pierre

Facilities

Manager

Walter Christie, Electrician

Amy

William Graves, Chief Engineer

Carol Tanka

Michael Lavin, Electronic Systems Technician

Catherine Vesey

Reichel

Edward Bartholomew
Jocelyn Brayshaw

CATALOGUE

Paul Bridge

Anthony Calnek, Managing Editor


Deborah Drier. Project Editor

Jack Davidson

Michael Davidson

Marcus DeVito

dward Weisberger,

Assist. mi

Lizabeth Levy, Produi tion

Managing

Susan Fisher

Laura Morris. Assist. nil

Larry Forte

Jennifer Knox, Editorial Assistant

Richard

ditor

ditor

ditor

Gombar

Allan Greller

Designed by J. Abbott Miller and David

Howard Harrison

Design Writing Resean

h,

New V

B.

Williams.

>rk < it)

INTRODUCTION

THE TRIUMPH OF ENTROPY


/

think that what T/mt Keeper has knuu n all along. Ignatz,

Robert

work

a single

is

continuous project altered daily." To see


is

work begins and ends

of

And

exegesis in any form.

How

the current context:

With

artist. Yet

up the problem

does one "know" an

known

who

at the

same

knowing an

work

artist's

are

story of their subject. Critical

presumed
and

and important aspects

work. Special

on the occasion

Body Bob (one

remains. As

still

mediation between the experience


hermetii obje<

imbedded

notion

lii

own

.msr

-(

it

is

in

and permutable

ontiiiuotis

hess with tin

se

direi

definition he

his

Morris puts

opposition to cntropv and

game

project

hln.

m hmr

Ins

rrogatorj and expressive,


th<

on

-....

This

working with Morris and

iti

si

led to the

of study

COUrSI

through an)

Minimalism
tin

evei

Id chai

xvlll

lo

an.

an rounds

story ot

the-

text that

and transcriptions

active participation of the artist,

began work on

series ot essays that arc

text tor Morris's

atalogue raisonne',

<

in 1978.

that follow contain reproductions ot twenty six

was undertaken by

ha me,

The principal ob|ective


to

is

to his

lati
lal

noi

in

III

less ol

.1.

hint ion

espei

iallj

noi thai ol

spa.

undertake n

in thi

Ml

(II

ii

KOI

ontext

in th<

in

catalogue raisonne project was

of the

ol the artist, the definitive


tor the publication

incorporated three elements: to provide a complete chronological


description, and photograph of every work that Morris has

created; to provide a complementary volume ol

and

to treat

and discrete work

years thai

this

each
.it

i.-ntanes on Morris's

now

and

Finally, to

the author

l>v

was

tiles of

ol

2,500

Initiated in

the Leo

ipei live

objei

1978

the

its

with the rei ."ds lor


I

Sonnabend

Museum

In

was announced as

hive, but the

is

400 pieces

galleries,

was

988, when the Robert

part of the Guggenheim'-

exhibition program. The current exhibition end

assembled an

scope

he in hive on Morrl

catalogue drew substantially from the


in

provide a series of

During the fifteen

Hie nutnbei ol art woiks

shifte.l

relocated to the Guggenheim

1994-95

published texts

proiect has been under development,

excess

well in

all

article in this literature BS B

art;

wotk

and course have grown and

work, win.

made

Thomas Krens,

his.

assemble, with the assistance

ther chi sciences or

somehow, n
pan ill III spi

the author,

1978; the notes and drafts are

on< lusion thai

changing perceptions of thi work

II

arc-

intended as the text for a catalogue raisonne of the artist's work.

bui onlj through direct experience ol

mm

.III.

illustrate a series ot episodes

series of ten essays on the work of Robert Morris that were

from the

the work in

of

in the process ot pin.

am

coherence, however,

Its

later on.

selected pages of interview transcripts, notes, and drafts for a

listing,

onteni

thai 'I" noi

is, ol

his project

man

work

fields

the humanitii

gaps

in the

fill

record of the entire oeuvre. Original plans

adept, and

allj

tii

medium and

years ol

ii

raisonni

then an few

episodes and

selection ot notes, drafts,

atalogui

to

beings are.

NOTES AND KEY TO THE REPRODUCTIONS

thai he

Along the way, the

annoi win

and

ichaustivel) diverse in
i

inti

historii ally const ious

In o\<

Human

and context.

ope of his work better than any seamless

The pages

on the

ultural enterprise, mobilizing

work has been both

and things have the capacity

tacts

continuous project, they can suggest

intended as

By making

pie< e,

(in res. intelligent e, m\i\ insight in a

knows by

the whole-

tell

an iterative, creative, and repetitive

is

This proiect
i

is

of

power because the

a special

and was adapted from the

any other

ol

preihi ated

strui rural exhaustion.

himself as an artist
.

document

encounter with Morris's work Because they

The

partit ularly

is

perhaps, than that

so.

time

ot its

one

strm tun- Morris's work

more

artist of Ins

all ot

and the various me. minus that may be

in its

problematii

fragment gains

was made with the

an increasingly

ol

m my

ot Morris's

the only-

is

and

follows, then,

could fabricate.

the whole story.

tell

Yet the story, in whole or in part,

art

one of his most recent texts) says,

even "the whole story Can never

to

incomplete in a conventional sense, and part of the

of

asionally brought to bear Vet the

fictional aliases in

entirety

What

generates.

These fragments

process.

MIT

a catalogue raisonne and other feats of academic hea\


littn

its

conclusion. If "the whole story can never

and think

retrospective) and classification (hke

Guggenheim

first

must

coterminous

is

not an explanatory text but rather a

Knowing

compilation (such as the public ation by

Press of Morris's complete writings

by nature, interactive and imaginative; we experience

to tell the

historical analyses

of a

it

retain both mystery

and elucidate the most

are mobilized to define

problem

commentary

gaps between the

are

remarkably prescribed. Retrospective exhibitions and

documentary monographs

ot his art

than the oeuvre in

less

story," the
for

two decades,

in

fragments. Morris's work inevitably leads to this

who

ever lived?

the

the introduction to this catalogue of the

which the definition


the

artist

information, variety, and complexity as any artist

efforts at

it

concede the meta-definition of his work not simply

nothing

in

much

time provides in and around his work as

significant

idt ritual u ith

the artist himself but rather to the only element with

as a text that

this sets

so actively resists being

The means

is

major Morris retrospective

consciously seduces, and ultimately resists, a definitive

who

that only death

"a

any other

it

underestimate a powerful

to radically

body

his

is

Robert Morns Replies to Roger Denson"

Morris,

Robert Morris's entire oeuvre

way

Thomas Krens

Its

etalogue raisonni material

sheer scale mandated by the

IJ

Tape 1.2

Tape 1.1

Talks about 1961, what was made then: Plus-Minus Box,

Tom:

Tom's outline for book.

R.M. says he wasn't showing

Footnote for the Bride, etc.


then... mentions Ilyana(?)

PAINTINGS

California

R.M. That preceeds everything. Whether that should be included


in book or not,

...John Cage listened to the BOX WITH THE SOUND OP ITS OWN

R.M.

don't know.

MAKING for

hours.

was extremely uncomfortable.

didn't

expect him to listen...

WERNER JEFFERSON, photographer of R.M. "a Calif, paintings mentioned.

R.M.
a

few

completely atopped painting about 59. . .60. .59.

Most

threw away.

And

had all these shows out there

But later on, about 68... 69, I noticed certain kinds of reseraof
blances between some /the felt pieces and forms of those paintings.

Coincidence?

don'

know.

Tom:

Was it

R.M.

No.

came in, closed the door, turned on the tape and

through the box. A speaker is inaide, the


At that time we didn*

Certain problems exist with painting.


I

on the other hand you ended up with an object.

How long 4ki

Tom:

That was something

it

only one who managed to put those two things together.

something.

at a time.

didn't have

lot of room to work on big things.

1978

left:

Author's unpublished transcript draft, dated

raisonne not immediately feasible. Expectations that digitized

December

images and texts transferred

between Robert Morns and the author,

soon render the more traditional forms


obsolete further argued for the delay

of

Then these

That's why the COLUMN was not put together for a while.

conception made the publication of the catalogue

would

hard-copy publishing

of the definitive publication.

sanding

Sometimes I'd work on things

to laser and cd-rom disks

to

.right on the box.

was still dealing with that same thing.

RECEIVED DEC 13

original

..

The COLUMN was made in I960 and put together in 61.

2 -

changed media, and

half hours. The entire thing

other small things were being made.

made was BOX WITH THE

SOUND OP ITS OWN MAKING, which does resolve that problem.

Every tning.

That's dated January 1961.

couldn't deal with that and unlike Pollock... he was the

it take you to make the BOX.

Three-three and

R.M.

that became more and more disturbing to me on an intellectual

objects

recorder outside.

have small tape recorders.

couldn't

accept. Because on the one hand you were invloved in some activity,

One of the first tkxji

The sound is played

"fcape

quit painting

couldn't solve.

There was a kinB of ontological character to painting

this tape recorder recorded the whoe thing.

for a particular reason--certain problems

level.

continuous loop?

saved

side

1.

13, 1978, of audiotaped conversation

This

is

the

first

p.

1,

tape

1,

transcript of a series of

discussions that took place between November 1978

and February 1979

in

NY., and New York

City.

thirty

Wilhamstown, Mass., Gardiner,


There were approximately

hours of conversation, which produced more than

250 pages
right: Ibid.,

of transcript text.

p.

5,

tape

1,

side 2.

MAS KRENS

x\ x

12

Tape

It.

TOM: They seem to hive an apersonal monumental austerity.


-ere
RH:

ude

..

if

society's evolution of llnguage was

out of concrete that'd reinforce their massivity..

of things.

method of control.

So it

and cons traint, ... spaces can be metaphors...

winted to mike something large, but purposely

then detailed.

was all those things those prisons refer to in relationship to


the individual

Exactly, and those ideas were carried on in the prison

drawings, ilso Labyrinths.


I

13

Tip* U.2

There's no given plan.

complex

Basically they dealt with

spaces you noved through or spaces that contained you.

At the end of every year there are a couple of proposals

TOH:

made

All ire to be related to one mother,

RH:

They

Were they intented to be constructed?

tacked in.

One for Goosen's Land was.

Yes.

One for Conrad Pisher

was supposed to be done, but he felt there were too many

were to be fitted together in some Tashion that could only

problems with the local police.

have been slide clear once there was a site.

Richard Roland was one.

get a lot of correspondence from different artists.

Richard Roland wanted a project from me that he could do and


Asks about his interest in prisons.

TOM:

..

the manner of the

that's why

drawings, technique as well as conception....


RMs

don't know if it was ever

think being fascinated with Pirenesi more than anything

CONTINUOUS PROJECT ALTERED DAILY:

elae and reading Pouciult (sp?) who wrote t book ibout the

history of prisons.
to do prints,

Then

hid this pressure.

hid to do them within

..

if

was going

very short time ind

sometimes like i deadline to get something organized.

They are prisons in

Cos toll

So those

an

much colder

Tom

noon.

that aociety it

lirger prison.
Leakey

things,

left: Ibid.,

right: ibid

IK

IU'

12, tape 4, side 2.

3,

tape 4, side

.11 It

IN

2.

decided to do this project.

I'd work

The warehouse was only open in the after-

thru Sat.,

it'd

had no idea of what I'd do or put in

knew I'd work everyday.

taking things away.

Somewhere
I

So

So for eich afternoon of the show, Tues.

be open to the public.

there except

organized a

started with a ton of clay on a particular day.

en it in the mornings.

says this)

Controls move from public execution to educition

When Haig Of) was up there... way up town.

..People did projects there.

Plreniil'a ldei it quit* extensive, not Just ibout prisons,


but restriln and control,

had a warehouse for a while and

show of other artiets.

very metaphorical sense... not about

how bad Rlekirs lalind ia. (But for Pirenesi they were bad in
romantic way, yours

There's a publication on that, no text, Just photos.

three conditions triangulated the project.

gave it to him.

performed.

have the text. U

also kept

altorod it, adding

record of ihat

Not only of what

did.

did, but how

felt about this, which was an extremoly uncomfortable situation.

Underlining the paradox, on the other hand,


When Marcel Duchamp stopped working in 1923 on his large glass, wire, lead,
and paint construction entitled La Marie J*f%

H6 Par Ses Celebaires,

Metae .it

was his

aiMfM

intention to publish a collection of drawings, textual notations, and various

located at some distance from an active area of critical consciousness

work of art produced between 1911 and 1923.

presented problems in the 1920's.

large glass was extremely unweildla#.


and fragile.

as

But this perception,

occasion, totally misunderstood.

The piece was heavy, over eight feet tall,

treatment of Robert Morris's work is concerned.j

The notes and drawings

in

"Tn"e

Green Box

purposefully camoflaged or obscured by the artist, for reasons ranging from a


Duchamp-like fascination with the erotic element in the partially concealed, to

in random order,

conscious attempts to structure his art in such a manner as to extend the

During the eight years that lapsed between the exhibition of

temporal vitality of

The Large Glass and the publication of The Green Box , the complexity of the piece

was virtually unknown, and its conceptual elegance completely unappreciated.

And finally it can be said that

potential and actual layers of meaning interest is certain work has been

The Large Glass was abandoned^ when Duchamp was able to finance the publication of
of the notes, drawings, and photographs,

Despite his writing Morris has never been very

least the last two decades had certainly not moved toward resolution as far a its

presented a different problem - one that was only solved eleven years after

94

*uch

discussed crisis of criticism that has plagued the American art world for at

was shattered in transit, and the piece disappeared into a private collection

facsimile edition of

forthcoming on the intent or meanings behind individual works, and the much

After its single exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum in 1926 the glass

ii

of the work that is known is only imperfectly or partially understood, or on

Physically, the exhibition of the

ultimately to be repaired by Duchamp only ten years later.

virtually unknown, having been lost, destroyed, only temporarily initallcd, or

In fact, according to writers who knew Duchamp, he saw the efforts of

in of itself

Other work

for one reason or another, the -*em*of critical coniideration.

these two parallel endeavors - the object and its essentially textual notations
a single, unified

argued that these

Numerous extant works, for example are literally unknown, having never entered,

photographs related to the conception, development, and execution of this difficult


piece.

U jgsmmmT be

are significant gaps in the available information on the work of Robert Morris.

given piece by releasing its meanings at an indeterminate

future date, a delayed art work, again, perhaps, much in the manner of Duchamp.

Even

Perhaps Morris just intuitively sensed that with some work, that to preserve

then, notes Duchamp, scholar George Heard Hamilton, "Duchamp's elegant invitation

its relevance was to preserve its mystery.

to the reader to thread his own way, with the aid of the notes, through the

artist's mind went unattended by all except Andre Breton."'4

Breton's precipient

essay of 1935, and Professor Hamilton's own/trans; ations of twenty-five of The


Green Box documents related to the concept of readymades remained the only scholarly

investigations into the multiple meanings and mechanations of the piece for more
than thirty years after Duchamp's work on it ceased.

atot

Ibvre are similarities between this situation, and the one we confront with
Robert Morris's work.

Ay-nM*./ ^JA/^V

<f

&>/'*>*<"-

**7ittttrfu*^

One can suggest that the gap in Duchamp's work between the

time and manufacture of a complex work of art with many layers of meaning, and the

process of revealing those many layers of meaning, might find analogy in Morris's
work.

As unlikely as that might seem in what appears to be our overdocumented and over *

left:

Author's unpublished draft of the untitled introductory essay

for the Morris

catalogue raisonne project, November 1980,

p.

1.

right: Ibid., unpaginated notes.

MASKHI'.

M x

The degree to

hich his concerns have shifted from moment to moment while retaining

<,

consistant

HI'

110&

relevancy for his art, has Bade t- prospect for overview and analysis 'precarious.

PerUWOWm

ieorge Cutler's art historical model can be used to

problem.

lli

lr

one aspect of the

Wl-J-f

at least as far as this stud/ is concerned, can be presented as nothing so ruch


as a critique of both the art historical and critical method.

92

tS^ENTuU. Fokm- cusses

particular problem posed by the oeuvre of Robert Morris,

Hii-i

lllf

6A*C>

ovoioi

Kubler has proclaimed that the "aim of the historian, regardless of his

specialty in erudltion.is to portray tine," but allows that "Tine, like mind,
is not

knowable as such, "-which is the fundamental paradox of the historian.

Kubler's reference, of course, is to the basic level at which

direct experience of the world

RlX HJTM-

il
r*.

human beings only

fuvt

(hi

PlAOOMAU I-Ul
Ovoios
VERTICAL CA/OIDS

through nerve endings that report immediate

is

_^

i s
at o ne with
U" * preconscious sute the >il Inn] rii~
r
-*
has no conception of %**
his environment, and feels no need for complex figurations of truth and knowledge!!

sensory stimulation.

i_

the development of consciousness has come the need to possess and conquer the

-iinlniihll

aspects of the worldj ietzche

"

drive for knowledge, this "will

to power,"

w>

il

ii

was instinctual,

tnat

thaa.

^^

reflection of the

human inability to tolerate undescribed chaos. "The so-called drive for knowledge
4mm?> be traced back to a drive to appropriate and conquer:

memory, the Instincts, etc. have developed as

the senses, the

consequence of this drive." The

|.

character of the chaos of the world was "not of

lack of necessity but a lack of

jmj

order, arrangement, form, beauty, wisdom, and whatever other names there are for

mBBmjmmjmmmsBBmBSmmmmmmmmwB

fx r^Li^t

mi mi ml "" K"

ii*

it

fma

shudder In the nerve strings, being

v T 5t Sham

iNPUxriNC.

Morris catalogue raisonne project,

December 1980, p

enterprise. His work from

Pieces of Steel

photocopy
thesis,

of Morris's

"Form-Classes

Appendix D,

p.

December 1980, on

scale.

unpublished 1966 Hunter College master's


in

the

Work

of

Constantm Brancusi,"

and continues on the verso, reads as follow.

and

it

This drawing

1 1

map

either anticipates or follows the

both the foundation and the

is

KOHEIU MORRIS

literal

ot Brancusi's

mapping

achievement

activity that

is

blueprint lor Morris's minimalist

is

Hot

s.

\\%\

first

963 (Green

Gallery) to

968 (200

nothing less than a systematic catalogue

form classes ot solid geometry keyed to human


is

both a primary architectonic form and a

cottm, scaled to Morris's

own dimensions.

This

"true" minimal piece, but in both

is

its

a key

work not

form and

roughness, fhe bridge and mediation between (he dispassionate

and passionate aspects


"scientilic"

Key document.

Box (1962)

only his

92. The handwritten notation, which begins on the

front of the sheet

njo

of the major

right: Author's unpublished notation,

Hfrv

ASc*vEcrouio

m*

direct

Author's unpublished draft of the untitled fourth essay for the

left:

)#

prfnary signified.

iiu.

^jptii^iae c^i^o
.-ft

morphic defining compels humanity to create an unending proliferation of interpretations whose only

"* n

FrtAuiMBNTlMCr

As Nietzche suggests, this need for power through anthropo-

sign of nothing, leads to

'XI

and

ot Bob's nature- reflei tins the

'anafytii al" minimalist enterprise

and fhe extreme onto/ogical awareness

on the one hand,

that ripples through every

aspect ot Bob's work and being, on the other. (Build the death
here.)

WW.

lllf

lJ-*'

?
It has often been said of Morris that he is one of the roost fully

Morris's relationship to the^epistomologicaKfield in


aware and historically conscious practicing artists of his time.
general

is the

#68* -$e8rs>?s
,

development,

During the

signular characteristic of his work throughout the course of its

a^

undoubetly provides the key for

course of the four year development og this project there was nothing

continuous understanding of

in my numerous excahnges with Morris that suggested otherwise, but the depth of

J^his

stylistic departures.

His knowledge in a variety of fields is more

that awareness and consciousness, and its possible meanings, only gradually

detailed and comprehensive that that of the informed laymen, but less than that
became apparent.
of the specialist- except in

{jis

own fild where

lis

is

As the chronological

biography and oeuvre of BBJ528Se$30828ase32

the specialist- and he


this artist was slowly and even laboriously reconstructed from imperfect and

Knee* knowledge to his work. Therein

has continuously appl ied that epistomological

incomplete collections of sources- among them 4h8 s e#e?


lies a major impulse in Morris's art.

must of the over 1600

He uses^ history as his medium in a larger

works of art, gallery listings, personal archives and files, private and museum
and sublte sense of the word, beyond the consciousness of history as

lingusitic

collections, published texts, notebooks, personal and business correspondence,

strcuture, perhaps ina ritualized use of the shifting epistomogogical framework,


textbooks, reviews, artciles, catalgoes, the artist's personal library, interviews,

Levi-Strauss began the flight from history in the 1970's be pointing out that
films, and video tapes, just to mention

we are a "hot" society rapidly cooling off.

few- tN^p96CaP#

picture of the artist's

The structural analysis |S6##ee&= = $

thought also began to emerge.

It is a picture that is far from

complete in its

performed on the history of art by Jack Burnham concluded the end of art history
detail, but a picture that demonstrates certain patterns or consistencies; such
as it had come to be known;

"the driving force of avant-guardism has been it


as a practical

mystigue as an undectedted syntactical structure."

awareness of the major developments in thought that describe the

And Morris himself has

history of ideas; and

particular interest in exploring the relationship between

acknowledged that the structural gestalt once 46te& detected, exhausts itself
art and various of these Se*a*$eSs6*6S developments expressed in other fields.
qua gestalt.

The ftei0$S$06Sif$t

revelation that the historical avant-garde


Morris is a student of Art History. He read Freud and spent five years in analysis.

operated by transparently logical

,fifl5fl5fl<fiiS8S?

essentially liguistic mechanisms,


implications of Duchamp with John Cage, formalism

He discussed the theoretical

that in the mid-20th century modern historicism encountered its own irrelevence,

with Clement Greenberg,


that the continuation of art making in this post-historical

situation

David Smith with Rosalind Krauss, and structural

isrr

must
with Jack Burnham.

necessarily revolve around the ritualized activities of

tytf

He understood something of the avrieties of criticism and

process drained of
philosophy, and the methodologies that lay behind them.

His <i*i*t

master's thesis

historical meaning

was a structural analysis of Srancusi.

His minimal sculpture was based on

an interest in psychology, perception, and Piaget.

philosohpy of Hegel, Husserl

He was acquainted with the

?Jeitzche, Kant, and Wittgenstein and aspects of their

thought appeared at certain times in his work, as did Velikovsky's.


like a philosopher.

He is politically senstive.

and Derrida's "deconstroction" and "difference" influence his art.

left:

Author's unpublished draft of the untitled

Morris catalogue raisonne project,

fifth

essay for the

November 1980,

He reasoned

Aspects of Foucault's "archeology"

p. 1.

right: Ibid., p. 6.

THOMAS KKF\S

ixlil

fU*

,i^

of painting in 1949 and bis claims for the potential o( sculp-

iere not a function of a critical epiphany occassloned by a

most often generates from a

" breakdown

ing activity" im y italics),

mmmmmV

of normal-problem solvox from an exhaustion of

tbe predominant paradigm's ability to continue its development

dramatic breaatbrougb of an individual or group of artists.

or maintain

Batber It was based on a careful reading of tbe history of both

means most familiar to it.

art and culture tbat produced the theoretical conclusion tbat tb

^puieoi lal

1 1

(HmVm"mVJmaJmWmVVJ P r t*>loaiinaDt position by tbe

Tbis potential loss of relevance,

because at tbe onset of tbe crisis

it

is un-

modern sensibility was increasingly demanding an immediate, pure

clear whether the impaired functional ability is either structur

concrete, and non-referential experience from its art; and

al or temporary),

furthermore, it "asks for tbe exclusion of all reality external

turn,

Tbat this perspective

medium of tbe respective art."

generate tbe momentum for new formations and rules and a resulting

was not yet a conscious, explicit, or operational aspect of

modern art in 1949 only underlines tbe point.


re for tbe characteristics of

the

paradigm shift.

Looking into tbe

generated by tbe breakdown of normal science:

paitmng
Bal ilco's contribution s to the study of motion depend ed closely
on flBHi difficulties^^ discovered in Vistot le' mmmWrnVrnW

concerned with the immediate and the concrete experience were

theor> ty scholastic critics. Newton's new theory of light and


color originated In the discovery that none of the exi sting preparadigr- theories would account for the length of the
spectrum, and the wave theory that replaced Newton's was announced
In the midst of growing concern about the MBmtmVB anomalies in
the relation of diffraction and polarization effects to Newton's
theory.

severely limited to the literal qualities of tbe medium; to

mmmmVml

"configurations of pigment on a flat surface" or to "colors


placed on a two dimensional surfai-

Greenberg was essentially corral

If

analysis, why was he compelled eleven years later to quality his


.

nal judgement and allow that

iger than ever?


[>a

i.

Is

It

Llkewi se

the state of painting seemed

the answer to this proposition tha

in

stances:

of Robert Morris's work and sensibility are to be

that the pursuit

it

It

th<

em-

SBsaH

Author's unpublished draft of the untitled seventh essay for

the Morris catalogue raisonne project,

right: Ibid, p. 5.

ft'

'hi

h|e

oneg^
is

(may begin to lose face and

thi

of
tbe collective subscription to a common methodology or body

defines, science moves tastes

aaaaaamaaaa^^t deeply through

the transition from

willingly accepted by all the practitioners in the field.

"Though they flBmmmmml

Long as tbe tools that a paradigm supplies continue to prove

x k

But

science than the pursuit of disc

capable ol solving

left:

in

that is "that crises are a necessary precondition lor

operational model to another is not an immediate event, nor

'nary theories is even less a

ol

.rmal

mmmmmmmmmmV Kuhn found all theoret leal developments

emergence of novel theories."

Again, Kuhn's analysis of the mechanics

regular acl

the history of science demonstrated similar structural circum-

aaaaaaaassl
i

Among numerous examples, Kuhn cited the theoret

leal breakthroughs of Galileo and Newton as examples of response;

"new" art, Creenberg saw

that the theoretical sctructural options open to a

therefore precipitates a crisis, which, in

inspires an extraordinary search for solutions that may

li

M< IRRIB

December 1980.

4.

Knowledge,

in the activities of

the scientists or artists at

the

point of crisis through the period of transtion, that an explan-

ation of Greenberg's dilemma can be found.

coAfsaVu}*eii

2T
The overall goal of the book, is to develop an appropriate treatment of the
whole work, lnother words the whole work needs an appropriate response in terms
of the book. The RD or Abrams coffee table would be a waste of time, if not
for you, at least for myself.

or an explanation that Is moving Into the present and derives or focus** only
on the Immediate past
Kuhn development of the structure of scientific
revolutions is particularly effective for an analysis of this section. Talking
about the develpment of ever more comprehensive theories, based on scientific
evidence and the continually develpment and redevelopment of scientific paradigms
One thinks of Eisteln's search for unified field theory and can make the analogy
of developing a unified theory of art that explains all phenomenon and can be
used not necessarily as a predictive device, but definitely as a tool to anticipate
the future.
.

What is needed is an explanation (KB: Rk maps the expanded field of post


modernism and suggests that while this kind of investigation of an historical
structure is necessary, it is only a small area and it does not address Itself to
the need for explanation.
'

This project develops from the proposition, fully ackowledglng the need for
a reportorial and at least quasi scientific objectivity, the Morris' work
occupies a preeminent position, if not the preeminent position, of art of the
last ## twenty years, and to accompany it detailed presentation, a logical
theoretical explanation that ackowledges both the difficulty of such a task,
the specific theorretical concerns that are developed within individual and
groups of works within specific historical periods, as well as locating the
activity 1) within the larger context of the commonly referred tonhistory
of art and 2) the larger context of the demonstrated activity that we have
catogorized as art making.

3. The map of artistic actvity from beginning of artististic activity through


the present and into the future In terms of consciousness about the Datructure
of the process historically

y/WxACfWS

Essential to this endeavor is a complete and unadorned, objective presentation


of the complete chronological purve as is possible. The catalogue raisonne
approach makes logical sense from an objective and scientific perspective.
The explanation is couched in terms of neutrality. The theoretical unifying theory
is presented with proofs, but within a necessary speficic Ineluctable bias.
The work itself, without drawing specific attention to o-ly single interpretations of the material, Is explained in terms of details as thoroughly as
possible. In fact, the reportorial edge to the combined volums, the without
commentary will occupy approximately 70Z of the space in a combined total of
six hundred + pages.
The explanation: Ref. RK the need for an explanation.

Deal with the need for newness, the dialectical, development, change
Part of the structural biological develpment suggested by Piaget in Structuralism.
On the theoretical level, the structural approach sees an essential uniformity
in the development of things, from the organizations of cells, individuals,
patterns of though, soclties, and cultures. The most reasonable expanation
would be that af a kind af adaptive capability, to be able to change to adapt
to the always changing environment. What these characteristics (ability to
adapt and change) are tied to is survival, even in the Darwinian sense. Thrfse
creatures, cell, societies, that can adapt without surious rupture are those
that are the most capable and those that survive. That characteristic filters down
to artists in an unconsciousness need to be "original" unique, (giving something
of the person to the art or culture of an era.) within the last 100 years it
has manifested itself most directly in the art-making aesthetic or impulse as the
thoeyr of the avant garde, (form of the dialectical concept of history)

6*

if

(J*^

1.

2. Art History itself is only 100 years old. Measure that against the 6000 years of
art making cultyre, and you have the conscious perception of development in terms
of history to be only a fairly recent phenomenon. Within that recent histories
many theories have been suggested, developed, and mapped, but primarily in
vleM#M#6t# bounded by fairly precise historical situations, although that the
time of the development of these thoeries, they primarily explain without
particular awareness of the nature of continuing time and development. In other words,
they focus primarily on the present

left:

The consciousness is not just one of history, but also of the potential for artistic
expression on all levels, of concept, material, manifestation.
Janyes makes several points in his analysis about the breakdown. Por survival,
the bicameral mind was needed to sepearte speculation from the completion of
r|ftM# taks. If one had to cut a column for a greek temple and they sere not
being paid in a time before money was prevalent (not good analog, uae more
primitive time) the voices of authorltv kept him at his ftfi task)

More developmet in the area of how art was made in earlier times and civilizations"
1. Example, the pyrmids or stonehenge. No consciousness ab out the art of art.
These weee devices, perhaps observatories, the engineering and architecture of
based on repeltion and empirical obsrvatlon to improve that repetition over
long times rather than speculative minimalist aesthetics. Th4 communication took
place through the tightly knit and maintained groups of scientist /priests
struggling for some consciousness of their time and situation. The decoration of
those temples with specific or religious information, also had the function of
mediation. The consciousness of art as art, in entity in and of itself did not
take place until the concepts and Investigations of religion and science were albe
to separate themselves from 4#4 art and move off In areas of their own more
,

successfully

Author's unpublished notes for the Morris catalogue raisonne

project, ca. 1981.

right: Author's unpublished notes and diagram for the Morris

catalogue raisonne project, ca. 1981.

MAS KHKNH xxv

tftfTvtC

&

XL

frtsrc/J'rx

#/os*TZ

What should extiit between the attlst and the crtitlc, on the one hand, la a kind
of competitive Intellect, each trying to move the other one furhtcr along, rather
the the critic be a acre flag waver for the artist, because the artlat is reHreensted
after all, by an object rather than words. There are certain creative people, in the
fullest concept of the word, to whom the visual object represents a certain kind
of wanted energy, and don't cpoee to eneter that kind of annual situation. Yet, they
do not aake totem*, for all the power of their reasoning, and totems aove people.
There Is a point, however, when the resveres id rrue. Perhaps by force of event
of ltaulon, certain words becosM lenurtalized in a text of a particular declarartlon.
If the event associated with that declaration became Important enough, the declratlon
would cone to represent the event, being the object /symbol of a watershed or moving
situation. But those events that particularly get honored in such a way
'-arrlor-Polltic inn-Art ist-Crltlc-Sc lent 1st

*/?'/(& 'A/raj <m cftv&fat.

Sou/ //*S6t//H*i<&

'S

-/err- tJi^/-

yeW

o-

orf-frs

r^.

6e**r.

"

/>/<hSO,

Werrior-Prleat-Politic Ian-Art let-Cr it ic-Sc lent Ist-Diety

IndlvlBual-Warrlor-Prelst-Polltlclan-Arylst-Crltlc-Sclenilst-Dlety
(the stagea of life

aeCrvfal jfattfCOc/ AfSsn S

re essentially polltlcan. The artlat Is attempting to usurp the space of the


warrior, and
and in the circle, the crltlco of the dlety. In fact, Its not a
line, Its a circle.

7&-

(Stem

/v/u*S.

~/te

/*

j? a/thy

&
i<i

wrxtt

cJ*>v4-

nitinne

4<'/{/'J-t

<

o^r

//.

^cA>y~

'

tr>

fen /*>}'

,,r-vymy

'

{*>-(?-

Tat are these people the parldigme of the stages of development? The evidence would seem
to indicate not. Don't all of these "occupations" eppposedly acceptable to
"free entry (and exit) juat become a matter of choice and personal preference. And
what arwe the character lstslcs of the situation that come to be characterized by that
choice, lot particularly Inspiring. ThesmmmsP#vy socialist state la one of no
competition and no development. For all the vertuea of paclflcty. It tradlt iojally has
not been very effective. Or has it? Things, changes If thla magnitude, cannot
happen overnight. There has to be a huge commonality of purpose and that takes tiae
to generate, but once generated. It is very hard to change (here I an talking about
style)

An

rk-

*}

-uu,

left:

tlMy

*.,

flod out

+ M u mil

ud

too

ue<

^ ^

Author's unpublished notes and diagram for the Morris

relatively simple

geometric plywood lorms

show. He was certainly not the

catalogue raisonne project, ca. 1981.

firsi

in

the

Green

artisl to write

G,i

about

ait

in

recent times. The acerbic commentary ot Ad Remhardt and the


right: Author's unpublished handwritten note, ca. 1980, which

thoughtful analyses ot

reads as follows:

Hamilton did
late

much

installments entitled "Notes on Sculpture' /usf over a year alter

i).

emerging

inrcr beiies

1963 and Peter Plagens

an insight, presi

ieni e.

glib art

and syntai

til

the Green Gallery show, the public persona ot Robert Morris as

demon

Renaissance Man has contributed

ol the pen, so to spe.ik. Morris elevated the art to

mythii

jutj that

and message

rum

x * v

came

that

writer, Morris

KOI

was

to

in

no small way

surround his work

With

uncharacterlstii ally dense

to the
.1

almost

<<>r

an artisl

revealed the conceptual mechanics behind

IOKHIH

re exi itina.

Ri<

.1/

r/fic/sm

world

sty/a thai

rlff<

ism

fs

than 'us paintings, But with j stroke

one

ot high

seriousness, arguably beyond the level ot then-current art


,

hard

sensibility in the

1950's and early J960's. Don Judd began writing

lor art publications in

Ever since Artforum published the Inst ot Morris's tour

Duchamp by Robert Motherwell and

to tertilue Morris's

raking j cue, perhaps, from

George (Kubler)

/cfbL

+111^''^^

Art

If the above logic Is true, why an I waatlng ay time sfhc crlticlal edge.
Us the
next step away form being a scientist. Although the scientists may be our only canxhe to
jump from sclentlast stgae to dlety stage, artists may legitimately think It may not
be able to be done, but that's really nineteenth century. The truth Is the artists have

.-.

crcf&c

<*Y~

1965, and identified as Codex Madrid


a

Madrid

and II.

is

well organized notebook dealing with applied mechanics and

mechanical

theory.

II

is a mixture of rough notes and sketches

about canal building, geometry, fortifications, painting,

perspective, optics, designs for the casting of an enormous


bronze horse for the Sforza family, maps, and topographical
sketches.

In addition to the

Windsor Volume and the Codex

Arundel, there are now in England two other Leonardo manuscripts.


The first, known as the Codex Forster, is in the Kensington

Museum, bequeathed by John Forster in 1876.

Forster received

the codex from his friend, Lord Lytton, who bought it in

The aforesaid Testator gives and bequeaths to

"Item.

Vienna.

The other is in the possession of Lord Leicester,

Messer Francesco Melzi, nobleman of Milan, in remuneration

most probably acquired by Thomas Coke, First Earl of Leicester,

Notations on this manuscript

for much appreciated services done to him in the past, each

who lived in Rome before 1775.

and all of the books the Testator has at the present time,

indicate it was owned by Giuseppe Ghezzi

and the instruments and portraits pertaining to his art

in Rome in the early 18th century.

a painter who lived

Despite the wealth of

and calling as

painter."

extant Leonardo material

short biography of Leonardo

In a

in

the form of drawings and notebooks

da Vinci's life written in 1540, the Florentine Anonimo

on an incredibly wide variety of subjects described in the

Magliabechiano confirms that this entry from the last will

above provenance, Vincian scholars have generally concluded

of Leonardo dated April 23, 1518, Amboise, was indeed inacted.

that the almost 6000 pages that have survived after countless

Of Melzi

's

tamperings and losses are only a fraction of the heritage

disposition of the instruments, portraits and

other of Leonardo's effects, nothing

is

known.

once in Francesco Melzi

It is known

's

possession.

Ladislao Reti has

that the drawings and writing of the master in the form of

researched the concordance of the Codex Urbinas and discovered

Leonardo's notebooks were kept intact and returned to

235 traceable surviving originals against the 1008 headings

Florence.

Melzi worked on the material

listed by Melzi, concluding therefore, that as much as 751 of

the rest of his life,

is missing today.

until his death in 1570, presumably organizing the notebooks

the material

according to his interpretation of Leonardo's wishes fcr

amount of scholarship invested in Vincian studies has been

used by Melzi

The vast

directed primarily toward provenance and dating.

CD

left:

Author's unpublished

untitled sixth
p.

1.

essay

catalogue raisonne project,

This essay consists of two texts, to be typeset

parallel

columns, each approximately 2,500 words

text to appear
Vinci's

in

the

left

column

<3>

the first part of the

final draft of

for the Morris

is

provenance

of

in

in

two

length.

The

Leonardo da

notebooks constructed by the author, which describes

i.ie

loss of approximately seventy-five percent of the original

notebook material inventoried

at the

1516. The text for the right column

one

of the

time of Leonardo's death


is

in

in

Morris's transcription of

audio-performance elements

the disfigurement of the artist

of Voice,

A chronological

which describes

a childhood accident.

right: Ibid., p. 9.

THOMAS KRBNS * vti

Mum l>w

p*it*vi

mtuJM Jl

Since 1958, Morris's preoccupation has been with the concept of art
rather than with the for* of art. or put another ay. he has consistently refused
to recognize any foraal

limitations on the development and expression of concept


the

to

Rather than concentration and the clinactic incident, his career re-

or content.

flects variety and diffusion.

a?

For over twenty years he has assiduously moved

.V^>"'.^

concept to concept, aaterial to aaterial, from issue to Issue so thatmVmm

l^kBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBMBVaVaV the oeuvre that stretches out behind


a

remarkable equinimi

t/

Hs4*fl

.rectsely because of

Mm

betrays

diversity. Of his

sculptures in the 60's he has said that he was ciost interested In "their physicalthelr presence.

anything beyond that.

One mustn't think of preconcleved Ideas like coaposition

Ten years later his interestrnfafaWwas manifested


In

H irh MuJt

loi

Onon

Tr.nr.

want things to allude simply to their own thingness and not to

urtr\

.Ml

Art in \rvy 1 vtk

ntujl

VVh.il

ulLmAUnm.il
ni t*n

f\j(>'f

IWI

*ni plvn-

the atomic bomb with pieces like Sketch for a One Megaton Tactical Weapon ,

Instructions for Home-Built One Klloton Yield Device

and numerous drawings and

proposals dealing with doomsday devices, installations of the first A-bombs,

It.iurJ.

nan

it

lh*'

4rj*in

tmmmmmmm

Little Boy" and "Fat Man," the history of the Atomic bomb development

project at Los Alamos.

Of these pieces Morris has commented that tmmmmmmmtmtammB

One can't help but be impressed by the continuing insanity.


We are in a very critical state. .. (These pieces are) a physical
manifestation of something that occurred ten years ago but didn't
have the opportunity to be realized or somehow just didn't come
together before now. That's true of a lot of my work. It happens
when an occasion arises or you get preoccupied with something
that wasn't realized earlier.
don't know why I am that in1
tensely focused on these particular Issues at this particular

Jpture

y*- activated by the conviction,

>.

The structure of his Investigations

of art's potentiality has been delineated by concerns that are fundamental

to

the concept and exercise of art- such as process, material, the variety and mechanics

left:

Author's unpublished draft of an unresolved essay for the

Morris catalogue raisonne project,

December 1981,

right: Author's unpublished notations on p.


ol Robert

Moms

x x v

it<

ih

29

of

p. 3.

The Drawings

(Williamstown, Mass.: Williams College

of Art, 1982), July

ii

1993.

MUHHIN

njildrrun

stated In the broadest manner

>
be
Although he may amtmme willing to Identify his motiva-

tions, Morris's decisions are not gratuitous.

bcxirvr-k trv*\

'

possible, that art can be anything; but that is precisely not to say that for
Morris art is anything.

munul
jiiimjl*

Museum

Wmw

vj

sunu'd

in

hLuk

MrlDhottl

WW

INTRODUCTION NOTES: August

drained the activity of art making of values is the ultimate act of valuation. Hit obftcttve it to
appropriation, resist understanding, but without ever relying on subterfuge or misrepresentation So the
for him is a continual play with meanings, conscious and subconscious, exercise*, processes,
experiments, mobilizing his strengths through the accumulation of work and history, leaving an
intellectual imprint rather than a dtscemable visual style. Hit it the contrarian's response to changes in

1992

game

the environment; look to the other direction.

SET UP THE ARGUMENT FOR THE "UNKNOWABIUTY" OF MORRIS'S OEUVRE AND


TEXTUAL AM? CONTEXTUAL RICHNESS BY REFERENCE TO DUCHAMP]
11.

ITS

In 1923, when Marcel Duchamp stopped working on his masterpiece. La Mane mise d nu par ses
celebaires, Meme, it was his intention to publish, more or tess simultaneously, a collection of drawings,

and photographs related to the conception, development, and execution of this difficult
and complex work. In fact, although tlut work was produced over a twelve year period, Duchamp saw
the efforts of these two parallel endeavors the actual object, on tlie one hand, and its process
documentation, on the other as a single, unified work of art. But his intention to present it as such met
with difficulty. TJte work itself resisted definitive completion, and progress on it was intermittent (a fact
that was perhaps most dramatically attested to by Man Ray's famous photograph of dust gathering on
the surface of the targe glass dust that had to be carefully lacquered at two month intervals to render
the seven sieves in different degree of opacity). Physically the piece was large, unwieldy, and extremely
textual notations,

1926 the glass shattered in transit. There it


fragile. After a single exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum
remained in its packing case for another ten years, ultimately to be "repaired" by Duchamp, with the
fracture lines cemented intact and incorporated into the work as yet another chance element. The notes
and drawings presented a different problem. They came to public and critical attention only in 1934, when
Duchamp was able to finance the publication of a facsimile edition of 94 of the notes, drawings, and
photographs in random order in a work that was entitled Green Box Certainly during the eight years
.

that lapsed between the exhibition of the Large Glass and the publication of the Green Box, the
interactive complexity of the unified work was virtually unknown, and its conceptual brilliance

unappreciated. Even then, notes George Heard Hamilton in his and Richard Hamilton's 1960 topographic
version of the Green Box, "Duchamp's elegant invitation to the reader to thread his own way, with the

aid of the notes, through the artisfs mind went unattended by all except Andre Breton." Between
Breton's percipient essay of 1935 and the Hamilton/Hamilton commentaries a quarter century later, critics
and art historians were virtually silent on the topic of Duchamp and his masterwork. A war intervened.
Picasso, surrealism and abstract expressionism

imagination. The art world had

moved

came

to

dominate the popular and informed visual

on.

12. ANALOG Y OF THE TIME CAPSULE, BACK TO THE LARGE GLASS. MORRIS AS AN ARTIST WITH
AN EYE ON HISTORY; RECOGNIZES THE IMPOSSIBILITY OF INSTANT COMMUNICATION AND

THE TRANSFER OF MEANING LN PRACTICAL AND THEORETICAL TERMS, SKETCH OUT THE
FUTURE MODEL OF READLNG MORRIS'S WORK THROUGH A INTERACTIVE DATABASE}

His feats of making are prodigious, and he has written extensively It is impossible to engage and
surround this material in any reasonable detail, subject it a critical exegesis, and reduce it to m
convenient series of statements that capture its essence The most significant aspect of Moms's oevvrt,
like Duchamp's Large Glass and Green Box, (besides its richness, complexity and tubfettivtty) is its
interactivity with textual and conceptual reference. There is, however, a logistical problem. Duchamp
made about ISO works; Moms well over 3,000 so far. The Large Glass was a lens, a filter, a lighthouse.
a point of reference for the rest of the work. The sheer quantity of Moms's work, the force of his
personality, and the difficulty of lighthouse construction in contemporary society has removed the
possibility of a single work in all of Moms's oeuvre with such a towering presence
Therefore,

Moms's

Large Glass

is

his entire ouevre

To see

it

with a similar clarity and

to realize its

potential use as a reflective device, a mirror lens through which to scope the relentless activity of a
remarkably self aware artmaker in a given chronological and historical context where transcendent

meaning has been drained from the basic activity requires a new technology Imagine this Thirty years
from nolo, squadrons of enterprising curators and art historians working for the Guggenheim la division
perhaps, of Time Warner Entertainment Japan) with far more computing power and efficiency at their
fingertips then we ever dreamed of in 1993, will undertake to organize a vast hypertext
catalogue/interactive database of everything that Moms has ever made (and make no mistake that this
is an artist of prodigious output), written or recorded, and everything that anyone has ever said, recorded
or written about him. Every photograph, film and video tape or disk that contains an image of Moms
or his work will be added to the great concentration. All the information will be catalogued, indexed,
cross referenced and stored. Visual Designers will be hired to develop story lines and shape the vast
quantity material into an HD-TV spectacular at the high end, a sort of tatter day Masterpiece Theater
Supplemented and inspired by those works of art that are actually available and on view in museum
collections that wilt testify to the power and necessity of direct experience, the vieweri reader will hare
access to the thousand themes of Robert Moms. On this giant interactive video game, the Moms psyche
will be exposed. The tapes of Voice and Hearing, the story of his childhood, the thousands of minutes of
interviews and performances from the relentless progression of residencies at colleges and universities
around the country, the articles, the reviews, the commentaries, the grocery bills, and the tax records, the
snap shots and the target from that summer day when Moms and I shot pistols in his backyard. But God
is in the details, as Morris well knows, and it wilt be an enormously engrossing toot. Subjects can be
scanned, computing is instantaneous, Moms and his art will be more susceptible to understanding and
appropriation than ever before. Did Bob plant this time capsule.

Any

exercise in analysis ultimate ends in self referential subjectivity. Understanding and knowing
demands appropriation; the "knower" is m a superior position to the "knowee." Moms resists
appropriation and understanding every step of the way. He knows that the ultimate power of his art
resides in its inscrutability, and that once the paradigm has been defined, inscrutability vanishes TJie
conventional approach has most critics and historians assume that the artist has a consistent message
that they want to convey, and most artists act as if that is true. Perhaps they lack the verbal and

analytical skills to accomplish the full communication of their message; perhaps the message is simply
not powerful enough. To sell and survive as artists, they must engage active collaborators in getting the
message out. With Morns its more complex. He regards himself as an intellectual superman and a
physiological everyman. He is always just one step away from the ontological quiver. That he has

13. NOW IS NOW. MORRIS'S OEUVRE IS A SINGLE WORK. JUST AS THE THE EXHIBITION AS
PART OF THE PROCESS. THE WORK IS NOT REDUCIBLE; BUT, THE MUSEUM THAT HAS THE
BEST AND LARGEST COLLECTION OF MORRIS'S WORK UNDERTAKES THE ENTERPISE;
MORRIS'S COMPLETE WRITING ARE SIMULTANEOUSLY PUBLISHED (title is the k*yj; THE WORK
IS INSTALLED UPTOWN AND DOWNTOWN AS BEST AS CAN BE ACHIEVED UNDLR THE
PHYSICAL UMTTATIONS OF THE EXHIBTTOIN SPACES; THE WRITERS WHO HAVE BEST KNOWN
MORRIS'S WORK ARE ENGAGED TO WRITE ESSAYS; ITS NOT COMPLETE. BUT THE OBJECTS,
THE TEXTS, THE RESEARCH IS BROUGHTTO THE HIGHEST AND MOST COMPREHENSIVE LEVEL

YET.J

left:

Author's unpublished

first

draft/notes for the introduction to

the present exhibition catalogue, August 1992, p. 1.

right:

Ibid., p. 2.

THOMAS

K R K N8

nil

The visibility of process in art occurred with the saving of

art as icon. Under attack is the rationalistic notion that art is

sketches and unfinished work in the High Renaissance. In the 19th

century both Rodin and Rosso left traces of touch in finished

course, attacked the Marxist notion that labor was an index of

Like the Abstract Expressionists after then, they

finished product. Duchamp, of

value, but Readymades are traditionally iconic art objects, what

registered the plasticity of material in autobiographical terms.


It

form of work that results in

remained for Pollock and Louis to go beyond the personalism of

art now has in its hands is mutable stuff which need not arrive
at the point of being finalized with respect to either time or

the hand to the more dir ect revelation of matter itse lf, how

space. The notion that work is an irreversible process ending in

Pollock b roke the dom ination of Cubist form is tied to his

inve stigation of means: tools, me thods of making,

nature of

static icon-object no longer has much relevance.


The detachment of art's energy from the craft of tedious

material. Form is not perpetuated by means but by preservation of

object production has further implications. This reclamation of

separable idealized ends. This is an anti-entropic and

process refocuses art as an energy driving to change perception.

conservative enterprise. It accounts for Creek architecture

(From such a point of view the concern with "quality" in art can

changing from wood to marble and looking the same, or for the

only be another form of consumer research

look of Cubist bronzes with their fragmented,

involved with comparisons between static, similar objects within

faceted planes. Thf

conservative concern

perpetuati on of form is functioning Idealism. C^~-.

closed sets.) The attention given to both matter and its

In object-type art process is not visible. Materials often are.

the phenomenon of means. What is revealed is that art itsel


self is

^JV

When they are, their reasonableness is usually apparent. Rigid

an i-^i^lifY ^ "hanis,

Industrial materials go together at right angles with great ease.

discontinuity and mutability, of the willingness for confusion


fusion-

But it is the a priori valuation of the well-built that dictates

even in the service of discovering new perceptual Modes.

inseparableness from the process of change is not an empha


hasis on

of disorientation and shift, of v iolent

th e ma terials. The well-built form of objects preceded any

consideration of means. Materials th emselves have been limited to

At the present time the culture is engaged in the hostile and

those which efficiently make the general object form.

deadly act of immediate acceptance of all new perceptual art


moves, absorbing through institutionalized recognition every art

Recently, materials other than rigid Industrial ones have begun


to show up. Oldenburg was one of the first to use such materials.

left:

Author's notations on p.

39

of the draft for

Continuous

Protect Altered Daily: The Writings ol Robert Morris (Cambridge,

Mass.: MIT Press, 1994), October 1993.

right: Author's notations on p.

56

of the draft for Continuous

Protect Altered Daily: The Writings of Robert Morris (Cambridge.

Mass

m x

MIT Press, 1994). October 1993.

HOBER1 MORRIH

act. The work discussed has not been excepted.

JC

unfinished
definition provided by viewer
also need to consider way elitist subsequent artists also
complete work
7 3 Cubism tends to formalism vs. materials/process approach

Krauss, The Mind/Body Problem

analytic philo displaces mind/body problem onto medium of


language
all else is nonsense

75 automatiion removes taste and personal touch by copting

forces, images, processes


76 artist steps aside for more of the world to step into his art

critique of metaphysics -- rejection of substance

77 minimal art of early and mid-sixties -- based on method of


construction
rectilinear forming precludes arranging of parts

[can see how this comes together with poststructuralism


also see how this leads to the lack of continuity, substance
that Antin stresses
series of works that not clearly connected by underlying
intention or anything else]

80 materials not brot into alignment with static apriori forms


but material is probed for openings that allow artist
behavioristic access

113 the dumb dense energy of things


art facts both generate and destroy speech
art facts are dedocated tp o,[i;ses beupmd ratopma;ozomg

Morris

Box with the Sound of Its Own Making


first of M*s many interventions in mind/body problem

114 tidal undertow has informed most art discourse: rational,


deterministic, and progressive mainstream of history connects art
facts that are borne along
mediate twin properties of interruption and flow

[note how much he uses the image of the river

performance piece recongigures Beckett

sounds made constructing box play from box


mocks notion of privileged access to contents
also mocks notions of autonomy, self -containment of
consciousness

Heraclitus

6 frequent recourse to language


9 way lang functions has less to do with Duchamp and ore to do
with Beckett, mind/body problem and analytic philosophy

most art discourse conforms to this Hegellian oceanography


in modernismbecomes comical and even fascistic
linear as inevitable, developmental
defense agaist the discontinuous merely sequential and
unnecessary
in a society so governed by pragmatism, nonutilitarian needs
ready rationalization
,

'

Beckett -- language ventriloquizes itself thru Unnameable


capacity of language to spin itself out in infinite regress
carries along helpless vagrants of B
12 charactrs want to stop but impersonal voice wants to continue
invasion of language as malicious because unstoppable

abstract art seeks to rescue its status from mere decoration -say it signifies something beyond its existence as mere object
and thus not to become what Levi-strauss calls the signifier
without a signified
116 effort to bestow on artistic development dialectical progres
is effort to deny contingency of man's acts
rationalize discontinuities

13

Morris's 21.3 -- repeats Panofsky's taped lecture


but is as if someting slipped
words not refer to things

15

Beckett's world of extreme ordinariness


related to minimalism
unable to arrest spin into seriality, run the risk of
absurdity, madness nonsense

118 pm raises this to critical self-consciousness


sees developments as moves rather than permutations of forms
with questioning of dialectical development, flooding pluralism
emerges

pictorial mark that would have no interior, no


connection to virtual space
no internal or expressive meaning
16 how to

only conceptualism claimed dialectical necessity


dial necessity had been way abstract art justified itself
Morris sees this argument as intended to secure value and power
in other words, is ideological

make

usually neo-Dada wh becomes pop set over against minimalism as


figurative to abstract
20 as early as 1961, Morris involved with art as language

left:

for

Author's unpublished notes from his reading of the draft

Continuous Project Altered Daily: The Writings of Robert

Moms

(Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1994), October 1993.

right: Author's unpublished notes from his reading of the draft


for Rosalind Krauss's

Series,"

in

"The Mind/Body Problem: Robert Morris

in

the present exhibition catalogue, October 1993.

mas KRENS

k x x

ESSAYS

THE MIND/BODY PROBLEM: ROBERT MORRIS IN SERIES


Rosalind Krauss

Ayer. a

There are two important reductions

perform on the assertion,


tirst

true,"

is

the

as wholly redundant, since to state "that

to assert that

is

to

The

true."

is

head of the sentence

to lop off the

is

think" part

think that p

"I

think

The second

it.

attack the feet of the proposition, getting


true" appendage, since "that p"

simply, a statement that p

its

ol

riel

by itself

all

is

to

the case rather than not p.

is

Ayer never ceases to term "nonsense." For tacking

true" onto the proposition produces the verbal illu-

is

sion that then

on the one hand, something called

is,

this

is

what

Ontology,

floats

the

is

it

think

that

There can be no mind/body problem


"sunt- these

sense-contents

see x;

if

conscious-

pain.

The

may be
may be

(though

it

hear x

they

or

form

in

is

a series

notion

verj

all

(Ins .ma lysis teceivi

in.

>m

there

when

Watt s

bj

in null
In hi

W .hi

.'
I

to

to

hav<

Kplain iIh

ili>

th<

ol

the

that

mosi

nt<

and

precisely

not calm

if

or tree

tree-,

e.ilm. or tree, or

at least

Hsi

organized within the realm

ol

Watt in

in

famous: "And the poor old lousv old earth,

is

ways

'I

ol

umstam

mt
in

this gaii

01

.111

ut

be-

w< n

15).

th<

thi

meant

philosophy's

And, thus,

to plug

it

perform instances

language- spinning out ol control and distressingly

language- perversely biting us


The

must extraordinary

own

"nonsense

ol

so to speak

tail,

series ol all the- series

Watts aci ol communicating to the narrator,


Sam, what happened to him at Mr Knott's house.
which Watt dues as the- two ul (he in walk, pressed
Watt

is

and forehead

to belly

to

Sam moving forward and Wati backward,


Wad moving forward and Sam backward, along

then
iln
1

extremely narrow passage formed by

ham

link

Inn

is,

the one

in

li

now

in

tin

otht

Wat or in a n
switch

si

rializai ion

iiiiiniiitiH

ul

hi

.it

ion

linguist
\i

letters

speaks
foi

in.

is

(In

01

her

W an

asylum where-

tin

resides

logii

ul

llu
this

two parallel
garden teiuc ol (In

the-

asylum Sam

insane
tin

Knoi

that analytic

leaching into Ayer's very domain

ighi

any otht

Mi

is

opening onto

precisely the

is

conundrum

said that these- series, in Watt,

human

izi
1

(W

recourse to language

logical analysis
in

window

the

room

and my mothers tather's


mothers mothers and my
tather's and my tather's lather's

lather's

forehead,

Watt,

whit h

in

giv<

rh<

"
.

observed thai

<>r

my

infinite regress

rved thai

tsi

and my
and my mother's lather's and

father's mother's father's

insoluble logical

my mothers and

my mothers mothers

and

against one- another, belly

it

l>\

Kplain had alwa

IRRIH

the novel

hair] are noi

I ol

hav<

performanci
1

ham
com

door

rooms

into

no one has
elaborate

and

left,

theii entrj

way

for

or free and

tree,

not calm and

it

(W

it"

and glad,

free

terms of a linguistic progression, frequently produce

logical

fi

li

For

and my pasi obsi rvations


in asseri thai

knowing

series,

mothers.

ol

ing

la>

beii

And

mother's tather's

.Amis refutation ol
now
mj room, have

pan

has

.in

glad, without

of

dismissed as

theii

,on to believe thai [us tabli

Km was

of

But he thought that

so.

calm and

and glad, or glad and calm,

of

the passages in Lang*

ol

being pei

is

could have been pronounced

lian idi all


i

in i.M

certain

instance thai

lor

glad, or glad and calm, or

mother's and

"sub-

oi

and the

languagi

ol

Samuel Beckett's novel Watt

and Lo

Truth,
.is

medium

and glad, or

tree

least

at

my

philosophy displaces the mind/body

response. Indeed

calm and

kit

calm and

intro-

and mental, is thus


comprehends them both

third form thai

ol

felt

and glad,

father's mother's

iinni.iteri.il,

problem into the medium

It

free

Now,

analysis ol propositions. Everything else

met blows

perhaps he

and

that p.

explicitly disallows thi

Analytic

stance")

Watt

that

of the

substances, one spatiall) extended and plnsn.il. the

dissolved by

"Not

did not, and had never done

lu

father's fathers

artesian distinction between two different

other unextended,

nose?

117),

Watt's mouth, this very

yet. in

my

propositions that arc structurally equivalent,

them taking the lorm

(W

rational analysis quickly takes on the character of

sense-contents are the ver-

remember x

have been pressed' By

bell

projecting tooth?"

earth and my father's and

spected from the world internal to the perceiver


feel a

heel?

my

set of propositions

bal translations of sense-experiences that

external world

A
And

toe?

about

simply reduced into a

is

the kinds of openings onto infinite regress tor which

underwrites Episcemolo

ness

thumb, could the

And

Being and, on the other, something called Truth.


if

pressed the bell? For by what but by a finger, or by a

series:

Thus beautifully shorn, that p" then rises up out


nt the foam of metaphysics like a mermaid returned to
the litheness of a fish: mercifully released from what

Knott's and Erskine's and Watts, that might have

"is

very

is,

and other thumbs, than Mr

fingers in the house,

)a\

it

ol

Knott with now


b nodrap" >W

urs in

SJ

nta\ and

which Wati

must, night
(

162)

<

ionships but

the

h rough

o<

not |ust in the

relai
nl

tihei

thai

is

ol

pan.

reb nodrap,
s >> thai

Sam

must comment, "These were sounds that at first,


though we walked pubis to pubis, seemed so much
balls to

(W

me"

mental

pubis"

to

is,

perhaps, the most

embrace within which the

efficient description of the

remains. All the attempts to reduce the mental to the


physical,

Moreover,

mental

gait, as the

not just their strangely de-eroticized

is

nude couple inches across the stage and

back again, that reconfigures the scene between Watt

and Sam; Morris has,

up

as well, conjured

a sense of

the confining corridor within which Beckett's pas de

deux

The narrow

executed.

itself

is

tracks comprised of

two long wooden beams, which are aligned parallel


with the front of the proscenium and on which the
dancers

make

Walking
moves

just

woman

former, a

and

claustrophobic intensity.

its

behind the tracks

is

which

a third per-

letting

to say "consciousness" to "the brain,

is

simply not work. The pattern that allows us to

reduce one level of description to another, more funda-

to

level, as

when we reduce water

DNA, saying that the

neurophysiology of the brain. Because subjectivity,


or consciousness,

And

what

is

that

we

To hold out

for

a bat.

"what

down

Morris's art, of his

list,

drawn up by

numerous references

writers on

to the

work of

Marcel Duchamp, here to Duchamp's "mile of string"


installation for the First Papers of Surrealism exhibition
in

New

\brk (1942). But

Switch's unmistakable

more convincing

homage

context of Waterman

to Watt, the figure

different

far

is

as an allusion to Beckett's clowns,

somewhat

thus to a

in the

and

form of endlessness and

repetition than that of the bachelor machine.

is it

like to be a?

it's

of

is,

nowhere except
regress. For

directly into the "nonsense" of infinite

one of the features the neodualist has to


that

is

which
mistaken about what
and
own

contents

is

has privileged access

it

to say that

is

the case for

sense, "incorrigible"

it

is

cannot be

it

that

it;

it is,

how

analytic philosophers can always reply, "But,


it

knowr'"

this

The

"how does

claim that

"I

in this

to this claim that the

does

threat of infinite regress that arises from


(or you)

it

am

know?"

is

that

if

am

feeling pain" or "I

add

my

to

seeing blue"

the further condition that, subjectively speaking,

cannot be mistaken about these things,

must,

Thomas

like to

be

in

order to claim this incorrigibility, have something like

an inner pattern or rule (the "constancy hypothesis"

Suppose,

Nagel suggests, we were to imagine what

be a bat"

like to

it's

their charge that discussions of "the mental" lead

an example), which

Bat. what

its

the analytic philosophers and

to its

sometimes figured on the

by examining

brain states.

claim for "consciousness"

labyrinthine associations, has

like for the bat to be

it's

will never get to

both sides of the stage, to create a kind of linear web.


its

to claim that sub-

be reduced to something objective like the

jectivity can

out the string from a ball of twine that she attaches at

This string, with

H.O or genes

to

nothing but the

really

first is

when we want

second, doesn't wash

course, to stare

dressed in a man's suit and hat. She

more quickly than does the couple,

far

will

their way, recreate both the setting's vec-

tor within the novel

an irreducible,

is

of the world and the subjectivity of consciousness,

two dancers are clasped for their promenade in the


opening and closing sections of Robert Morris's most
celebrated performance piece, Waterman Switch (1965).
it

conclusion, that there

its

ontological distinction or gap between the objectivity

165).

Now, "pubis

types of substance in the world, the physical and the

consult or to which

this particular sensation of pain or of color,

allow

me

to

know that I'm


And tins,

is

compare
that would
I

right about this case of

a bat. "It will not help to try to imagine," he says,

toothache or of blue.

webbing on one's arms, which enables


one to fly around at dusk and dawn catching insects in
one's mouth; that one has very poor vision, and per-

point out, leads to the problem of knowing that I'm

ceives the surrounding world by a system of reflected

over this instance of application, which would then

high-frequency sound signals; and that one spends the

necessitate another rule, and so on.

"that one has

day hanging upside down by one's


will not help,

he explains, because "insofar as

imagine this (which

what

it

would be

But that

is

Nagel
its

is

not very

like for

me

not the question.

like for a bat to


is

feet in an attic."

to
I

far),

it

want

to

know what

think, he

It's

on

is

be a bat."'

is

Whatever we

saying, of the original Cartesian for-

mulation of the problem

that there are two different

the story

tlic

of

the

back

itself

be supported, replies. "On

would
Box with the
Sound of Its Own
Making

man who
supported

giant turtle, and

of a

how

is

,isk(

.1

turtli

//

.ill

"

would

Ami when
'Bui

be supported?" the

man answers
turtles

that turtle

p< rsists.

inter lot utor

in

which

when

..iicii lii

rehearsing the mind/body problem

rule to this case,

tli.it

needing another rule to adjudicate

claims that the world

only

it

to

Ir

can

me

would then lead

behave as a bat behaves.

postbehaviorist, neodualist phase.

may

tells

right about applying

the analytic philosophers

the Wa}

ROS

( ,

problem:

his

how
first
it's

down

:i

In 1961, when Morris made Box with the Sound of


On n Making, he had constructed the first of his
own, many interventions into the domain of the

cuitry in the building, that in turn connects to the

mind body problem. A nine-inch cube, handcrafted

mockery

It

roughly

walnut, the box

skull

and screwing that took plan


own fabrication. With what

drilling,

during the process of

its

"memory" inside it.


viewer from the other

could be thought, then, to be


the box seems to confront

its

its

side of that divide that separates object

hat

\\

this question

however,

box

ble

seems to

is it like," it

That
a

be

say, "to

No

been wired into the vcrv possibility

Card
public

can be

viewers from imputing thoughts and feelings to them,

from granting them, that

is,

kind

mod-

of inferiority

object's

own

like"

simply the

is

from the behaviorist form

clear

is

as

privacy of subjective experience,

tin-

0and

oiitamniclK

selt-i

of

multitude

Card

as

tl

performs

it

kind

oj

COgitO

of

although we could say that

F6l

own founding experience,


tivitj

onds

maker, and thai

its

of

minds and

i" 'In

ami that

lluil

/.

with

tht

'.'i

IS

Si,

its

tin-

mind ami

activity itself

other makers,

which Morris made

iduI

anoi

In

lime tor

'ii.ii

was

exhibit

first

produi

lie

1963, the yeai

in

Own Making

lh

a/

ion oi

infinite repress within the situation of a professed

Th< cabinet, which bears on us

privacy and inferiority

photograph

.1

in

v. .J

\i

K-.

.ii 11.

And

1 1

wnii

IV..

work

puncturing

'in

with

aim:'

I"

op< mil, whit

ilniil

joins Box

with us dooi opened, opens

of itself

anothei dooi

111

wot

lil

<

iju

oj

Its

idea of autonomy and

along anothei trajectory broached bj


iln

Foi
1

1.1

an

|'H

It

11

wtnl.

iln

n v oi

'.limed

1.

mini
1

II

1.

II

III

in

lull .Mi\

Mi

ill

HIS

il

hi

In

ami

rd

111 it 111

1
'

W.Anr.

File

Morns,

ard

vviih

File

containment

.uiit.it

<

bulb

light
(lit

bull)

ting iln

woi

an.

on

which n

in

seems

also

11

lear that (he vvav

the early works

in

Duchamp and more

like

do
do with Beckett, the

employed, has

is

to

to

less

mind both problem, ami analytic philosophy.


Notes, where aiuoiioiiiv
For unlike Due lumps
ami

reference are not

sell

parades us

issue,

at

own presumed

An

regress nte within u

ardFi/t once again

containment ami com-

sell

pletion, with, nine again, the

same problems

ordinary

of infinite

containing

tile

flat

note cards onto which an alphabetized account

onception,"

"Purchases")

"<

onsiderations," or "Decisions," tor

is

Mm

its

conception (the cards headed


example, "Prices" ami

(foi

entered, iln

similiar to thai oi

Making

ot

of

example) ami fabrication

work performs

with

/>'"\

this time,

Sound

th,

specifically

critique

oj

//

Own

indicates

tin piibln space in which us "thinking" or


remembering" now takes place is the medium oi the
neatly typed on us
linguistii event
the that p

that

paia.lt of linn

bj

six

An examination

by

earliei object

th<

which bears both


1

Metered Bulb

Own

oi itseij

in reveal

sell

.1. hi. 111

si l!

11

tins group,

Sound

//<

photograph

projects throughout Ins

of

While it seems obvious that


this was an important source tor

own process

Photo Cabinet,

in

/A.//

tivities of

a<

refereno

equally obvious thai

that founding originated elsewhere:


ai

sell

of

box "contains"

tin

is

it

carpentry, bur-

of

lesques the idea of the <losicl circuit

Making,

not only tor the con-

career.

<

Own

1990, has

of

struction of the Largt Glass but tor a

claim to the internal privilege ami "incorrigibility" of


//>

Blind linn

the role of Ins copious

made

"Notes,"

language actually functions

Sound

drawings

Duchamp and

the threat of infinite regress that hangs over the verj

tht

to the

1973 ami up through the

of

Investigations

Taking up the analytii philosopher's taunt about

mental events. Box with

often been related to the example of

OHS lousness.

continuing

drawings

other, associated notions of subjectivity such as the

autonomy, or

in 21,

with the Memory Drawings of 1963

mock

to

performance, as

of

64), ami various graphic exercises beginning

(19C'''

idea of the

seems

also

it

terms

(1964), or a variety of verbally embossed lead pieces

public view.

only does the object deride

iirther, mil

tor the overt space of

1962 and then proliferating within

in

"privileged access"
full

knower

to the

in

Filt

work both

his

Which is to say that "what it's


sum of all those acts, themselves

The box has no


it happened in

because

is

Morriss frequent recourse to language, beginning

response.

in fact built.

to this,

reduce the "mental" to "language

known only

wholly external and observable, through which the box

was

tht

presumed privacy of thinking into the


medium of speech and the logic of propositions.
well to exchange the mvstenous domain of what

with Card

the

of

Box with

shared events.

eled on the dualist's idea of consciousness. Rather, the


box's irony

of

The

\iaking's ability to "think."

<:

To

file

box'"

but that has never stopped

literally conscious;

0i<

of course,

to transform the

It is

painted portrait or sculpted mar-

dependence had,

of this electrical

Sound of Its

from subject:

being asked tongue-in-cheek.

is

current in the ground, that in turn connects

not just a function of the obvious fact that

is

can't think.

is

human

the size of the

contains a recording of the sounds of the saw-

hammering,

ing,

in

the plug in the wall, that in turn connects to the cir-

er, that
In

11

the same

mi

Watt
(

> t

kmd

ot

ha.

One

been
ni

III

oi

aids
.

eonin ntt

iln

loose

ards reveals, howe>

being performed

is

categories

oil

lllelll

categories,

ategories," mi the card

numbei

these note

orderliness .m.l system of analytii

iln

elllles as

111.

foi

\4

which

111

foi
is

proci

(he world

example,

of
is

given the total

generated In Card

File.

Another category

number of

the

accidents

we

in

which, in addition to

number

are given the

of

cards (49), of changes (0), of decisions

of mistakes

(1),

numbered

things

"Number,"

categories,

(2), of

of losses

(12),

is

and so

(14),

of purchases

(4),

forth. It

(4),

of

hard not to

is

look at such an account without remembering the

conundrum Watt

elaborate

how

he wonders

tries to solve as

a dog is brought nightly to Mr. Knott's house to


what might or might not be the remains of Mr

eat

understanding language to have dissolved the


term, one that

which

interminable, because serial.

somehow played

is

"wordy-gurdy,"

tin-

through his

harac ters, as

<

their bodies rot (trying, as Molloy says, to

finish

dying"), their minds

empty out ("Unquestioning.


says the Unnamable), but language,

say I,"

I,

"I'm

ventriloquizing itself through them

words,

up not only the

ground

solutions

itself is

Beckett calls this third thing

Knott's food, for which, in the course of his attempt at


a solution, he totals

had

wmt

not apparently prevailed, but also

objections that were perhaps the cause of their not

done

so,

oj those

for their settling.

doubted, no.

having

It

itself

Number

Solution

That there

is

on the

I,

2nd

3rd

independent persistence of language as


entity, capable of

stories

say "I": "Unfortunately

Number

one must not forget that, one must try and not

me

them, by

of Objections

the voice

it's

..

..

who

want

say "I,"

impersonal but

insistent

my

walls,

it is

to stop,

that con-

not mine,

14

..

can't stop

for-

(T 354). So that although the char-

."

clamours against

tinues: "It

who

a question of words, of voic-

it's

get that completely, of a statement to be made, by

oj Solutions

burgeoning from within

that carries along the helpless vagrants ami

acters themselves, the ones

Number

spinning

out into infinite progressions, or of stories bur-

clowns and Watts of Beckett's universe, the ones

es,

..

never

persists

geoning from within

of Objections

1st

..

this

is

stories

4th

."
.

some kind of maleficent

distributed as follows:

these

all

these strangers, this dust of words, with no

all

one hand, and this noise on the other, that


that

differ-

ence, but merely to have added an irrational third

prevent

can't

ing me, assailing me.

..

it,

it,

from tearing me, rack-

not mine,

It is

have no voice and must speak, that

..

..

..

..

2 (W95)

have none,

is all

know

."
.

(T281).

This invasion by language as anything but


mind/body problem but instead as

resolution of the

The

inside language

when

system, as in "and

my

madness that
itself

it is

my

malicious, because serial and unstoppable, third force,

is

is

linked, in

reaches desperate proportions in the last words of The

generated

considered as an open

mother's mother's father's and

father's father's father's

mother's and

problem"

to "solving a

Watt, to the very serial

and

my

mother's mothers

."
.

what

pointlessness of this system in the face of

might be relevant

Unnamable
on"
as

but

"you

in

Watt

when Mary

is

must go on,
still

it

has

its

go on,

can't

I'll

amazingly comic

go

cast,

described as "eating onions and pep-

permints turn and turn about,

mean

an onion,

first

then a peppermint, then another onion, then another

In its turn this brings us to the distance that

peppermint, then another onion, then another pepper-

Beckett himself takes from what might be thought of

mint, then another onion, then another peppermint,

and

then another onion, then another peppermint, then

as the linguistic euphoria of Language, Truth,

Logic. For just as Beckett sees the infinite regress that

opens within the world


the

way down," he

"mental" into "turtles

of the

also sees the regress that threaters

move from sense-experience to the propositional form of sense-contents.


Because in order for this move from the denotation of
the apparent simplicity of the

something

in

the world

p, say

to a proposition

that p, say
we must, in order to move
from the truth of p to the truth of that />, have a

about/*

further proposition,

is

true

if/' is

true,

Y, that states that


true,"
If

and so on

let's

call

it

Z, that states that that

which

itself refers to a

"Y

true

is

if

proposition.

Z, that p, ami

/'

are

Beckett takes up the linguistic "solution" to the

Morris had taken up the charat

Dressed

ironically, not

in a "professor

podium, Morns silently


tape Morns hail recorded
tion of the levels of visual

Panofsky writes, there


ing Ins hat to

me

formal pattern

in

of

natural meaning"

tins

is
is

."
.

(W

50>

year before Waterman Switch, in 21. 3 (1964)

is

the clown tor his

ter of

continuing exploration of Beckett's

then

to infinity."

mind/body problem, then he does so

another onion, then another peppermint

all

serial

of

Irwin Panofsky's explana-

meaning

is/;:

the

insinuated.

man on

greetini

colors

man

linguistics.

sun and standing at the


recited what the "voice"

ami shapes

the strut
,

lifting a hat.

ru

in e

in

read as a greeting (call this iconograph)


<>n

irst
lift-

w hose

endow with a
or that p. Then

the culturally interpretive level,

which one can go

which
I,

from

to higher levels ol interpretation

them

(call

iconology). So Panotsky also begins by glid-

was

lc

Judson dancers con-

in this spirit that the

ing effortlessly and imperceptibly from the sense-expe-

ceived of the notion that walking

rience into the statement that expresses

simple

Yet tor the audience watching 21. 3,

Erskine had explained to Watt

truth: that p.

its

was
"something

as if

it

as

smoothness of language

so that the sell-evident

hooking into denotation, with sense-contents being


transparent to experience, noticeably begins to

mimed performance

the

fail.

As

increasingly goes out of sync

with the cape and opens a gap between the performer

and the "noise" that speaks through him, the professor

when

turns clown, most burlesquely

the gurgle-clink-

And

of "dance" movements.

tempt

slipped.

bending were

lifting or

it

down

the street or

iust fine as repertoires

was

same con-

in this

of "mental" space that Yvonne

for the privacy

Rainer would side with ordinary-language philosophy

Mind li

in truculently declaring. Tbi

a Muscll (the

title

most celebrated dance).


This is the context in which Morris composed his
dance Sitt (196 D, whose movements, the shifting of
heavy sheets of plywood around the stage, are those of
of her

ordinary labor. Inferiority

is

also referred to in Site, for

plywood panel

is

removed,

gurgle sound effect seriously lags after the water-

as the last

pitchcr-pounng-drinking routine of the lecturer, or the

Manet's Olympia

nude posed as

revealed, reclining in an imitation

is

tape registers coughing and throat-clearing episodes

of the image sequestered within the virtual spate that

way before Morris does them. Thus the ease with

lies

behind the picture plane of traditional painting.

which we apply "natural meanings

But

if inferiority is

move from

anil

we could

to that

/'

own

right this state of

of course, that that rule would need

affairs, realizing,
its

would

find a rule that

observed objects

and we wonder where

falters,

to

which would need

justification,

own

its

Since

body

of a dance of ordinary

manifesto

Dance The

dance world into which Morris was

introduced by his wile, Simone

extreme reorganization
iyr>()s

underwent an

1'orti,

ered at the Judson Memorial Church, in

new conception

this

dance

of a

gath-

New

York,

ordinary movement,

of

or ot "task performance," actively sought a

way

make

to

"interior

was
ot

gestures,

Balletic

nlled emotions

*&

the music or

ol

the body, ol an inaccessible,

ot

virtual field stnu cured bj

established

folded away from real spai

The dan<

im<

Si,e

mally labors to externalize these meanings;

would

the body

tin in

worker, or someone

thai ol the logger, or ih<

ing

down

of

ordinary

ol

walk-

iust

movement" the

dei taring solidarity

ordinary language," whit h

with

notion

is

its

(win

ii.'

tin

noi

iiln

i.

te

nothing bui

which
word

is

KOI

<

n>

is

alone
publii

haw
I

access

ithi

iRRIH

us<

of

that attracted

York dancers and performers very powerful-

itself

And Waterman Switch would develop


own experience ot the novel Watt,

its

behaviorism

us spin into seriality,

its

word

To know
ture "i us
refer;

ii

something

implementation
oi

to

Expressionism, abstract The kind

hec k

is.

don't

"i

to

the

<>!

att.uk

ot

gesture carried out by

balletic

the dance ol (ask performance had been paralleled in

the

1950s In

[asper fohns's ati.uk on (he virtuality

the pictorial gesture, particularly on those gorgeous

smears and swipes and oozes oi viscous pigment


through which the Abstract Expressionist painter
was thought i" have conveyed his mini sell

A wcuk

like

Icilinss

sink mac hed

at

/),;/,(

smeared

the

"i

and unci

paint,

it

he

canvas

moves,

mocks both

the "device," (he

us putatively

<>i

is

which
rotated

circular swathe

meani

the

such

smear

private world

public one ol (ask

:nh (1959)i

presumed expressiveness

tuiiciiein oi

out

us midpoint to

160 degrees to register, as

and

tly

Unable

language opens out into

absurdity, madness, "nonsense

the supposed pictun

orrei

need to stage

A serious walk with Watt. hovvcv


own extreme reservations about the

certainties ot linguistic

li

private,

other things

produces

hi

and

this very attraction

Beckett's work.

one's manifest ability

civi

thi

work

to his

<>t

ii

ii

pit

which one can

funi tion

wholly subjei

ol a

Wittgenstein as saying

noi to have a

is

the word, n> perform

mind

in tin

had evei read him)

they

word means, then,


meaning in ones mind,

what

he meaning

would

in

en

la

extreme ordinariness

formed through

hi

to say, ol thai philoso-

is

phy that dissolves the mind body distinction into


behaviorisi view ol

New

on the virtuality

ludsnii dancers wi n

of

own

"Specific

more than

stairs

tin

embracing a danci

M\

without

lor

ordinary, nothing

In-

was Beckett's world

taking off and putting on their shoes


these

er,

md

It

among

body nor-

er's

in Morris's

tramps and hat-passing routines, of actors scratching


themselves and talking about farting or halitosis, or

out of Morris's

pre

emv cnl inn and

as well as that refusal

Objects."

ly

the dis-

of

movement

painting that would become the

Minimalism, whether

of

ater collective,

it

are always expressive

felt,

an inner meaning:

of

The Mabou Mines, an important theconnected to Minimalism through


the intermediary- ot the composer Philip Cilass. was

gesture that would have no

who

hanneled through the performers

joins her

"Notes on Sculpture," or Donald Judd's essay

the late 1950s and early

in

only to be rejected.

is

it

and blood, she

flesh

is

to the anti-illusionism expressed in the very idea

of the inferiority

referred to,

Olympia

Site's

"gesture."

is

wrenched

ol

feeling

own

Rebelling against his

initial training as a

relation to their maker. But, further, insofar as they

latter-day Abstract Expressionist, Morris encountered

mock

Johns's "device" from within the Judson's search for

units

And

ordinary movement.

he considered the

mark

pictorial

it

artist's

was from

this position that

problem of how

to

make

that would have no interior, no connec-

tion to virtual space, no expressive overtones. SelfPortrait

(EEG) of 1963 was one of Morris's answers,


much more overtly than Johns's, ties

a solution that,

the very meaning of measurement for which the

such

as inches, feet, or yards

must be

invari-

ant and repeatable in order to signify, Duchamp's


metersticks form a certain parallel with a behaviorist
critique of a mentalist notion of
is

meaning

which

as that

guaranteed by internally held ideas or rules that

allow us to

know how

to use a

word

correctly from one

instance to another.

the issue of the device to the question of selfhood,


subjectivity, private experience

short to the

Fluids, body

in

mind/body problem.

To make the work, Morris had his


electroencephalogram taken for
a period that would produce a line
the length of his

own

The double

filiation

of the long series

of ruler works (such as Three Rulers, Swift Night Ruler,

MUM Mill

and Enlarged and Reduced

pursued

Inches) that Morris

during 1963 was a declaration of his own connection to

Duchamp

body. For good

through Johns. Begun as early as 1961,

in

the page onto which, over the course of two and a half

measure, during this seismographic

hours, Morris repeatedly copied out the "Litanies of

recording of his brain waves, Morris

the Chariot" from Duchamp's Green Box (his notes for

decided that he would "think about"

the Large Glass), the connection was declared again in

himself. In this sense,


if

we could

1962 with Pharmacy, and then over and over

say,

in 1963,

there were ever a line expressive

with works such as Fountain, Fresh Air, and Portrait.

And

This connection, which has been endlessly discussed in

of the

artist's "self," this is

it.

yet the absurdity of the claim

the literature on Morris, was given

is

equally obvious. Neither a picture


of Morris's thoughts nor an image of
his person, Self-Portrait

early analysis by

Self-

Portrait

as to declare,

(EEG)

(EEG) has

a line that will itself intersect, but only ironically,

And at the same


"What is it like to be

most important

"Duchamp's work constitutes

whose interpretative reading

turned to medical technology for a "device" to produce

its

Annette Michelson, who went so

far

a text,

is

Morris's uniquely

historical writing

on the development

personal accomplishment.

While much

with the traditional aesthetic genres.

of the 1960s splits artistic production into either a neo-

time

Dada concern

it

slyly asks the question,

that itself evolved into Pop art, or a

a brain?"

Minimalist position focused on large-scale sculpture,

Contemporaneous with Self-Portrait (EEG), anothwork associates this search for a device "to make a
mark" not only with the mental but with language.
Morris's Memory Drawings, based on a page of writing

and by so splitting

er

that

summarized

current theories of

own research into the thenhuman memory, are executed in a

his

written line that gradually comes to "picture" the dete-

memory,

rioration of
recall

as Morris repeatedly

and rewrite the

initial

attempted

to

page, allowing several

days to pass between each repetition.


If,

the

postures
abstract

presents these as two opposing

it,

first

figurative and the second

certain texts contemporary with this pro-

duction argued for the continuity of a sensibility


shared across this landscape. Barbara Rose's "A
Art," for example, postulated that a

common

B C

concern

way the ordinary object could be mobilized


complacency of American
culture meant that between Pop and Minimalism
for the

to critique the terrifying

there were both shared strategies (repetition, scale,

in certain versions of his Device Circle paintings,

among them

banal materials) and shared sources,

paint-mixing stick

the immediate example of John Cage

as his

smearing "device," this was undoubtedly a


Duchamp's own notorious "device": a set of
three metersticks deformed by chance but ironically

and Merce Cunningham, but more

reference to

remotely that of both

Johns used

given the

a ruler instead of a

title

"standard," in reference to the standard-

ization of measure.

Duchamp's

the shape

assumed by

dropped onto

a surface

It

made by

own

recording

manner

a set of

artist

production, refusing to divide

maneuvers, resulting

from one meter above, and


templates that the

this notion of continuity

in small-scale,

Fluxus-like objects, on the one hand,

and the massively

then

inert

works

used to design various works, among them Network of


Stoppages (1914) and parts of Tu m' (1918). Devices pro-

Minimalism, on the other

duced by chance, the

elaborating, two of

lines they trace have

Duchampian

no internal,

expressive meaning, for they clearly have no gestural

it

into a set of neo-Dada, absurdist

meter-long piece of string

repeating the experiment two times, generated in this


arbitrary

is

that Michelson argues for Morris's

Trois Stoppages etalons

(Three Standard Stoppages, 191314),

Duchamp and

Russian Constructivism

Fountain

of his

( )t

the six

tropes she sees

Morns

parency/reflection

them

(.is

in

th<

trans/

ROSALIND KRAI'

Glass's use of glass

and mirror) and the revised found-

object

function

within his Minimalist sculpture;

one

the strategy of framing

shared by both the

is

sculpture and the more "conceptual

development

when

(as

direction of his

in Statement oj Estbi

Withdrawal [1963] he "untrames" an object he previ-

made by withdrawing aesthetic value from it);


two more art as money and the subversion of

ously

measure relate exclusively to the Conceptual work;


and a final one art intervening in the ecologically

Duchamps

sensitive held of the social (as in

Green Box to "cut

in the

by 1969, the date of her

suggestion

had extended

the air")

oft

work, and

tive

own snubbing
based on
style,

of an art criticism (and an art history

Michelson's

guage,

thus joining and extending Rose's

fairly useless categories

Duchamps

of

as this

in

itself

of tropes omits the whole register

list

conceived as a self-justifying

drops from consideration.

ity,

much

that

posals

of morphology or

Notes." As a result, the

field of lan-

decided

of his work could remain at the level of pro-

famous projection

as in his

for a

"transformer

designed to utilize the slight, wasted energies Mich


.

Portrait)

laughter.

porated into Morris's work as

the

dropping

of

bad been incor-

linguistil

earl)' as

mediums

to be

added

which the

in

expressive body, whether as dancer or as painter, had

traditionally performed

gestures from within

its

and precisely permuted

iihllessly

about the humor involved


lessly

But

Duchamp and

if

who

wordy-gurdy

sees the

and permutation, which

drum

only he

is

It

way down.' language

juent

Rainer

among

mere sense

Some
I'hxi

and pi
.

in the
ui

with

plat

endless

its
'

was

tin

</<.///<<

ami

diary

oj

oj tht

u\i

Parts of

fot

illnesses

banality

oj tht

and

an tighteentb-

danct action, which consisted in part


\tack

oj

mattresses from ont

J noli

of

his large-scale- sculptural production

makes no

paralli

hi

pan

th<
bi

rwi

in
"i

n the

iii

'

them

'

>r

considet

eai

lllllS

what they

arl

on then

hei tex(

dam

er's

and the sculptor's production

Id

-.hi

Row opens

conjunction,

itatements

the-

stani

in

which
rs<

of

ironii

Andres solution

kill'"),

she-

li

har.u ten/ed as tautological

lor

with an epigram

gave Mornss Minimalist work,

other,

lum

sides,

body

<>n

and attacked by

lions as

kind

S,

with

the

mind

the one hand and to language

of

infinite regress

on

common ground

all

tor

Morris's production, m all its main guises Portrait,


beyond us relation to Duchamp, weighs in to (he
mind body debate, as its lows of bodied "subsumes,"
in distillations of the

oi

w.ii

al

sh.u klc-d to the

on

"a

quality

pineal eye

And although

to

is

is

without any elements or

of

Bui Bee ken's absurdist me -taphwu

land minister) provided an ironic contrast

transportin
/'/

Tht morbidity

namely,

argued, us aggressively anti Modernist, antimeta

physk

becoming m

"musical accompaniment"

chost as

Sextets,

the dancers

dualism

the indivisible impact of a sense-experience that

she-

/>

process and

she called the phenomenologic.il tirstness

In jail tin ust oj taped narrativa that either do not a

own

its

Morris as collapsing into what

that Miclulson saw

cube

action

of "turtles all

operate

"Duchampesque speculations on

either

tht

in tact

had described Morris's early work as raking

Rose

up

cube

tpond ui th or contradict

will

infinite spinout.

whic

conun-

to say as a logical

is

from dissolving the dilemma

that, tar

only Beckett

is

it

as a strategy tor endlessness

mind body problem forever


who performs the conclusion

that leaves the

unsolved.

the

confidence in the

Beckett join hands in cele-

brating a kind of hilarious absurdity,

t,

New Dam

permeates them

relations"

into the

ideas

oj

the wordy-gurdy cease-

in

undefiant separateness and even


autistic

This mip.u

lies

bis limited sim-t

"In

Watt

playing inside these characters' skulls, that "an

been remarked by Rose, as she described the invasion


dramatic spee<

Malone, or

and meager belongings," Morns wrote, commenting

conventionally mandated verbal silence had already

of

Murphy,

[Beckett's] spaces, a

sex or illustrations of (artesian dualism,"

)<>1

had somehow

field

kind of third force to those

,i

i.

proposal Morris "completed" in his

(a

this idea of art-as-language

That the

nails.

movements of fear, aston-

ishment, boredom, anger.


tears

as:

the growth of

other body hair and of the

of hair, of

of urine and excrement,

tall

as

smoke

the exhalation of tobacco

head

artistic activ-

Duchamp had

If

functioned as a crucial, enabling, strategic model:

text, into Morris's Process art.

argument is in dissolving the


difference between the two "halves" of Morns s forma-

As important

composed of paired remarks by Duchamp


"There is
no solution because there is no problem"
and
Beckett
wished, merely
"I could die today, it
by making a little effort, if 1 could wish, if 1 could
make an effort.''
However, although Beckett puts in various
epigrammatic appearances in the critical literature
on Minimalism and on Morris
the line from The
'tamable: "I seem to speak, it is not I, about me, it is
not about me. twice used as exergue by Maurice
Berger, tor example"
it is only Morris himself
who has ever pointed to what it was in Beckett that

the

silt.''

constitute

version of the

artesian attempt to locate thai part

body when- the connection between

tin

it

and us

mental counterpart takes place The comic, Beckettian

mode
i.il

ni

of this rehearsal,

nature
tin

within

ot (In

endlessness
.ill

however,

bottles
ol

and

(lie

the search

is

taken Up by

the

set

Suggestion (his makes


fbi

mental substance

the various (lows ol the body

Further,

olumn (I960), which Morns constructed

work" for the Living Theater, has also


from the vantage of Beckett's mind/body

as his "dance

weight, etc.) are related to one another by a conscious-

to be seen

ness that claims to

ribaldry.

This column, a gray-painted, hollow, rectan-

gular prism, the height of a person (six feet

was

tall),

conceived as a performer. Revealed at the center of the


stage where

minutes,

had

to

it

remained standing

was offered

it

for three

and

own volitional center, or "mind," at


moment when it suddenly and spontaneously
this eerie quality of a volitional object

intentional

somehow, miraculously, only had

one property:

the gestalt.

was

It

in this

context that Rose connected Morris's

use of "elementary, geometrical forms that depend


for their art quality

on some sort of presence or

concrete thereness" to Wittgenstein's philosophical

fell

questions about "pointing to the shape" of something.

was

To this

effect she cited the Philosophical Investigations:

by Morris's insistence that

testified to

is

Minimalism,

the

its

That

over.

"know" them.

could be argued, was bringing into being objects

that

a half

as a brute thing that, however,

be reinterpreted as a body inhabited by some-

thing like

it

"There

of course, what

are,

there was to be no external source of the column's

can be called 'characteristic

movement

experiences' of pointing to

topple

one could pull

like a cord

To this end Morris

it.

would have

to inhabit the

the dualist arguments to

(like

in order to

the homunculus that

(e.g.)

mental sphere in order for

make

with one's finger or with

sense, according to the

derisive attacks of the linguistic behaviorists) decided

to stand inside the

column and,

the shape. For exam-

ple, following the outline

one points.

one's eyes as

at the appropriate

But

S ab

does not happen in

this

moment,

When, during

to propel its fall.

this resulted in a

rehearsal,

head wound, the performance took

column

place with Morris in the infirmary and the

manipulated by
was

a string.

still

the

meaning

There are no bodies independent from the

clear.

within which their orientation

series, spatial or verbal,


is

But

istic

process occur in

From the beginning,

then, permutation in Morris's

Watt

"endlessly

and precisely permut[ing]

his limited store of ideas. ..."

she concludes: "The thing, thus,

supposed
than

Which

brings us to the problem of

how

have been pared

down

to nothing but

gray-painted shapes. As Judd wrote of

make fun of

anything, intended to

dualists, gestalt

is

itself

great chain of "turtles

the

way down."

the eyes of the linguistic behaviorists, gestalt

we recognize

set of sense data as a "square" or a "triangle."

just a rectangle or a triangle

commenting on the extreme reductiveness of


early pieces like Slab or Cloud (both 1962), Judd

to say that in the

recalled Robert Rauschenberg's self-mocking defense

referring to a mental

and,

set of totally

blank White Paintings: "If you

to

know

that

in order to

we

it

seriously, there

nothing to take.

is

sure that we've

That extreme simplicity would reduce the experience of something like Slab to Michelson's "phenomenological firstness"

or the

shape

seems

to

be the point of Morris's stress on the importance of


gestalt in his
ingly, his

own

search for "unitary" forms. Accord-

"Notes on Sculpture" explained: "Charac-

teristic of a gestalt

is

that once

it

is

established

all

That the
of the lesson

and not the

pointing

or

texture,

image

or gestalt

right.

matched the two

But

of

a square,

order to be

in

we would

correctly,

is

part

of "pointing to the shape." Because

how

it

clear that its the shape

we "mean"

color, say. or the size of the thing we're

to; or

how would we know

that we're

pointing to an object and not just holding up

be a bundle of properties

dimension,

is

backed by

are seeing a square are

gestalt cannot be so disentangled

would we make

for

it,

Which

square, and so forth.

qua gestalt, is exhausted.


(One does not, for example, seek the gestalt of
a gestalt.)"
The gestalt or the "firstness" would then
cut through the old mentalist dilemma of how the
various aspects of objects (the fact that they must
the information about

this or that

need, Wittgenstein winks, the model of another

explosive impact of a

single, irreducible, perceived aspect:

constancy hypothesis our claims

check that we are

"

don't take

In

is

mentalist notion, like the constancy hypothesis, that


operates like a rule by which

is

to the

regarded as a turtle

all

into something that

own

is

it

the very idea

these objects: "Order, in the old sense, can't be read

of his

is,

of gestalt. For in the battle between the behaviorists

in the

large,

that

is;

it

stopping of the experiential buck at "firstness." They

and the

mute,

presumably not

is

what

shape are not meant to invoke the gestalt as a kind of

to interpret the notion of gestalt in Morris's earliest

to

to 'mean' other than

itself."

explanations of his Minimalist work, work that


appeared

Applying

''

But Wittgenstein's questions about pointing

are, if

Gestalt

these cases." 2

all

this notion of "pointing to the shape" to Morris's work,

sculpture was attached to the Beckett problem,


to a

'mean

not supposed to be suggestive of anything other

determined.

and thus

which

cases in

all

the shape,' and no more does any other one character-

our interlocutor's attention; or why

something that moves from the

ringer to the object

and not up the arm to the body


Pointing to the shape. Wittgenstein

whole matrix

more

of

tin-

insists,

of relations that lie calls a

frequently, a "language

a finger

pointing

is

game.

pointer'

is

"form

And

part oi

of lite,

further,

ROSALIND KRAI

'

what does not underwrite the successful playing of the


"pointing to the shape" is a mentalistic form

as

called gestalt.

What

game

opposed

pressure

own "Notes on

In fact, the second part of Morris's

pressed. So

us.

also could be said to ask:

it

be a body

like to

is it

The

shown

to the optic. Yet as Beckett has

is

behaviorist, shunning the "what

/tit" part

is it

Sculpture," published later in 1966, also implicitly

of this question, points to the body's connection to

questioned an idea of gestalt as "firstness" or "concrete

world in the execution of those tasks through which

may be no

thereness." There

argued, but this

is

"gestalt of a gestalt" he

only to say that

formal relations

if

are not conceived as internal to the Minimalist object,


this

is

part of a strategy to take "relationships out

make them

the work and

a function of space, light,

The

the viewer's field of vision."

and

"firstness,"

end up with an endless

permutations operating

as

space and

two properties

to the

add

light

shape of the object and serialize

its

wholly public meaning. And "task

is

indeed registered as a series of traces

Hand and

like

Holds

Toi

instead to

themselves

hands and

feet.

Although lead was the medium Morns

most frequently employed


served

him

in

to register imprints, plaster

another work, Stan* (1964),

noticeably changed by them. In some sense it takes these

Hun

variation.

shape

variation

it*

a function

is

who changes

the shape constantly

l>\

his

Yet the body's imprint

although

was

And

as in Fortran.

these

another form

took, beginning

ir.H es

1963 and continuing

and beyond, was the


(it
In
e of imp. ii

\|m -rieni

bod} encountering the resistance


materia] external to

(it

leaving us

ii.'.

ol

contact

ow

ii

thi
v.

and.

that materi-

deformed

itself

ted by

inflei

Pageway

mark on

being

al,

LI

or

These are he
bodj s membranous
ii

n h an exterior, as us

oilier surtai c

is

pressured

nnamabli
on mj
pressure against mj rump,
knees,
ol thi
nisi the soles of mj E
unsi the palms of mj
hand., against my knees Against my palms, the
ni
is of mj
1, against mj km es ol mj palms,
but what is
that presses against mj rump, against
,n re

ribes this

n exerts

know

am

Bet kett's

seated,

the

narrowed

it

to nothing

neo-Duchampian gesture

my hands

This

work was not

Y\cs Klein's exhibi-

of

tion-as-empty-gallery (1958), but rather an attempt to

make palpable
around

ai

ol

\c r\

(1961),

Passagt u ay

first,

blind alley that led nowhere but to the point

ot a

which

the body's physical limits experienced

between

as a reciprocal pressure

into 1964

the end

The

discover themselves pressured between the two

body, in Morris's version of the

an entirely different scale and through

curving cul-cle-sac of a corridor that formed

walls

deposited

at

different means.

changt in position

mind/body "problem," was projected early on not only


as in Column
but in the
in the space it displaced
ii

not the only way to

is

surfacing into external


space. Two other early works address this problem,
its

the "exhibition," which visitors entered only to

it is

"''

Haptic The

performed the

it

stairs.

capture this sense of

at

traces

walking up

task:

the viewer

does not remain constant. For

relative to the U

oj their

most patently unalterable property

its

which

in

three steps were fashioned so that a section of each of

the treads could be flipped open to reveal the imprint

it:

Some of the best of the >nu work, being more open


and neutral in terms of surface incident, is more fetish
to the varying contexts of space and li^ht in u hich it exists.
It reflects mure acutely then two properties and is n
itself as

lead in

which two

1964), in

of a foot that had been captured as

two things into

warm

captured in the impressionable surface of

lead bars, spaced five feet apart, record the clutching of

from finding an unanalysable


set of

performs

performance"

works

oi

result of this, so far


is

it

its

and

itselt

space

the-

it.

made Pim

In 1961 Morris also

Portal, a free-stand-

ing doorway, nothing but threshold, doorjam, and


lintel.

The work

through

it.

In a

is

wa\ with mirrors.

meant

piece

task performance: walk

of

second version, Me>rns lined

each time one did

that

the-

Now walking through

"trace" of one's

it

passage was registered, albeit ephemerally;


peripheral vision (here would be

outward from

memory

body and into

one's

spatial told that

appeared

ot

weird

in one's

extending

trail

kind

like a

door-

the door

unloe atahlc

terimage:

al

wrenched away from


one's body ami made strangely out ot synt with
the

it.

What

is

it

ot

tiki

one's progress,

tO

be-

body

hi

loles "i

ii..

"pri

i.

that can I"

ed

pun

iuch

wt could saj

Lining, isolating

creates
it

as a

peeled away from the

corporealit)
i

a hat

10 ROBBR1 M"i

E(rat

Kemonstrandum)

might

h
bi

is

an awareness
kind

sell

ol

bound

collet

and present

(ot

tactili

ma ry

ive

ended

ret

Box

the rubric

structu res

which

of

body as physical pressure,

called the baptu

JcDD, Donald

Bod) contact

it

BOX

Q(uod)

in a

museum
to

pi ion ot

due
I

misleading path

debut

Ins

nde c

sm made

he

in
e

lit

it

wink dow n

ol

1966,

an aesthetit

the-

ol

we can

ideal forms, the notion of "system," argued via another

It is

exhibition later that year (Systemic Painting), applied

takes "relationships out of the

same idealism

this
If

Minimalist

to the issue of serial composition.-*

tended to work

artists

in series,

was

it

argued, this was in order to demonstrate the wholly

realm

rational basis for their work, each object the next

for

and

was Judd who

publicly objected to this idea

first

kind of

series,

Which

of

agree with Morris, that

work and make[s] them


and the viewer's field of

function of space, light,

vision."

element of a mathematical progression.


It

this

to say, the series, transferred into the

is

sculpture, enacts the object's endless capaciu

permutation

as "it takes these

two things [space

light] into itself as its variation

But

their variation."

a function of

is

from being an underlying idea

far

of rationalism as a way of responding to Minimalist

or reason that

work. Speaking of European geometric art (he gave the

work, or group of works, allowing one to essentialize

example of Victor Vasarely), which was, in fact,


pledged to what he saw as "rationalism, rational-

around a kind of diagram of

istic

philosophy," he countered, "All that art

based

is

on systems built beforehand, a priori systems; they


express

LeWitt

as

-"'

world's like."

idealist,

he

object

example

substituting for such a priori systems was instead, he

taken

And no

claimed, "just one thing after another."

tenaciously the rationalist reading of

Judd was always

matter

Minimalism

dogged

just as

in his

problem

In 1983, speaking of this

it.

from

the

up

thought his own work and that of his colleagues was

rejection of

to

students at Yale University, he said: "One conspic-

uous misinterpretation for example is the idea of


most writers in the United States have always
said that it's Platonic in some way and involved in
order:

some great scheme of

order.

dropped and taken up again

having been characterized as


"the look of thought"
added his own

he explained in a recent interview, "each part


dent on the

which

only

it

is

it

to be

ment" was

just as

ferent placements

much

a function of the object's dif-

and orientations

in space as

it

was

the simplification and reduction of


detail. Idealism, that

began

is,

to

Morris began to reason, that ver)

make

You have

thing

a rational decision

think about

to

is

depen-

you don't think about

it.

it.
It

is

something you

is

on each time.

In a logical sequence,
a

reduction toward an increasingly

bald shape only served to make


more naked and unmistakable the

^M

Two Columns

of this irrationality. For an

language one could easily

Hot
to

window

from the door


bed

bi

and

to the

fire;

from

(W

\at.
fro,

Here

In

reflectivity of the mirrorlike

sense of the

change

way the shape was newly

in its

/row the bed

the door

203)

to

ted by ever)

infle(

placement.

examining

this Brancusi

knelt.

the

Hen

to the

be lay.

window,

window

to tht door.

the fin

to

to
fire,

the

the period he was

problem, Morris's L-Beams

(1965) enact the pressure that placement exerts on an

cite:

from the door

door: from the

window; /row

to the

to tin

fire to the bed:

position of the form in space.

surfaces of Brancusi's polished bronzes heightened this

object's shape

Here he moved,

new

The

L-beams Conceived during

There are many images

Here be stood

changes brought about with each

way of not thinking.

irrational."

in

follows in a certain sequence as part

last. It

of the logic. But, a rational

and seeing

inception in a prime

as in late Cezanne. As
Morris considered the prime object in Brancusi's
work
the ovoid of the head detached from the rest of
the body and presented as a separate whole
it
became clear, however, that the form of its "develop-

exasperation to Judd's protest. "In a logical thing,'

the door.

its

itself

is

classical land-

historical context

as in Poussin's landscapes

whose work more than perhaps any

his art

Cartesian, as

the

its

yield to material context. In fact,

Sol LeWitt,

from

a notion of series that

is

frescoes of Pompeii or Boscoreale, for

That's certainly

other Minimalist's has been saddled with a rationalist

from the

master's thesis on

across those centuries through

example

Writing

project a formal problem from


Nine Fiberglass Sleeves

persisted,

walling off a particular form

scape, say

Judd's

type of order

It is

endlessly.

196566, Morris followed out George Kubler's notion

description of the

have to

it

from

it

does in Beckett's linguistic spirals:

it

and

irrationally

of form-classes.- This

what the

finding out

reading

that justifies

Brancusi's use of bases, during the academic year

pretty

is

much discredited
now as a way of

wrong."

itself

within, series operates in the art of Morris, Judd, and

Kubler. george

type of thinking and

how

one's experience of the

certain

logic that

would ground

fire,

thi

bed,

/row

from the

tht

fire to

whether

it

an ob|ei

is

seen from

outside and thus encountered as a body; or an obji

experienced from inside, as though

form nagged, so

"What

is

it

reflects the

///f-t

were one's own

to be a

body?" And each /.. as it


ol weight ami dimen-

apparent distribution

sion, according to its position

ing split

it

to speak, by the mentalisi question,

between the

the upright

/.

appear-

solid halt cleaving to the floor

ROSALIND

l:

II

and the

"lighter" half reaching skyward; the

L poised on

the

on

lying

two extremities takes on an arched,

its

lightened quality
of the

seeming thickened and dense; while the

side

its

resonates with

mind body problem. There


there

self;

is

sardonic account

its

the body; there

is

is

of

which certainty

be simple geometries based on squares,

and

circles,

would be sectional

ovals,

more rectangular
freestanding to

its

example, an eight-part,

peculiarly linear diagram of

inwardly sloping donut,

itself.

migrate to join another,

centrate on this type of

own kind

of insane reasonableness

like the text or score tor these

at

the scale of the

human bod) and

concomitant sense

something

could

into another tinny, and another

Mirrored cubes

By L965

transmute

turn transmute

in

should have been

it

Minimalism

in

concrete thereness," lor the galleries

which

in

the various works were displayed were even then awash

with the

effet ts ol optic

Judd's work, lot

illusioiusni

.il

was opulent with the

ot the

mark.

Williams Mirrors

In 19") he devised an untitled

which tour mirrors, hung on the tour

installation in

opposing walls

were accompanied by

ot the gallery,

paired frames hanging

at

an angle

such that to look through any

mirrored surface was to

haw

front ot each,

in

the frames into the

ot

the illusion ot looking

receding line of frames within frames within

frames

The three-dimensional,

unbend mto the

Two

monument.il

ot

sp.ui.il

impossibility ot a straight

years later, in Portland Mirrors


si

(I

)"),

Minimalism

ing

reflective

slum

ol

Plexiglas

to

empty

medium

into the

but nature also makes a mark."


and by the early 1 0s Morns had begun to think
about the strut tures both made (like Stonchenge)
r

and found

(like caves) In

Convert the an
straight

line ot

ot

societies to

prehistorit

the suns revolutions into the

the intelligible, arrowlike trajectory,

,i

paradoxical term "uncanny materiality" to describe

to

experience tins culturally ancient notion

tin

basii

stria

llii.

hum.
tin

i,

tout

first

ing

fa<

ol

.il>\ss

mon

tin

It

in

to

whuh

is

to say, ol entering

nun which

than evident

exhibited

l>lo(

'I'

in

1965
set

ks, the gestalt

part

ROBER1 MOI

mto

to

think and

text

ot

mark

that

one

he produt ed lo the end


sol. u

"primary structure" and

inn, infiniti

the object
in

bj

itself

<!

n [tress

seemed

in

the

It

present
is.

<

as

perhaps,

l'

'5

to see

he

massive and mysterious


N.i/i

pie

it

in

in

Pel u,

ross fire

absorbed In the

its

ol

line

this

the surfaces of the


is

Thinking the "mark" at


si a le led
Mollis to

to

Morris's Mirrored

[rapped

up

constantly delayed experience;


..

mi;,

whuh

m.issive project through

has not oneself written, and that will continue to

the mutual reflections

ot

tin

"engulf

tun

clarity

reflectivi

vanish was
(.a In

swamp and

(1971)

to "read" the solstice. Observatory

contradictory relationship between the


I

ot

Observatory

is

way the glinting suri.ues acted to

this

of turn-

inside out: the art ot massive, closed

volumes now seeming

and thus

line-

work

and magisterial simplicity,

ale

mirrored "device"-fbr-marking had the effect

and industrialized lacquer surfaces, which Robert


Sn
li son
acknowledged in 1966 by coining tin
1

volume

cubit

within which one was standing seemed to flatten or

the infinitely long line.

obvious that something was going on


besides

identity

self's

just as easily

which could

else,

coherence and

of the body's internal

thus serving as a kind of model lor the


over time and space

possess-

projecting

ing the simplicity of geometric shape

into

production

at a

of the exhibition, was to have the Strange feeling that

something

Mirrored

after

Cubes, Morris began to con-

encounter Stadium, even outside the context

to

Ten years

four side sections

like

transmute the three

to

were shown,

into the

dimensions of space into a

reorganizations.

But

mind

tor

fiberglass,

has

the capacity

interpermutational

wedge.

it

of the body and the com-

Stadium (196 7 ),

In the exhibition

cross-

its

another type of "device" to "make

to an

a linear

formed something

it

spin.

its

away into

the encephalography capacity to transform the densitv

linear trace

they were, in fact, rearranged daily by the artist.


chart that had

of

mark." Impersonal and mechanical,

plexity of the

which these works, made of

in

makes

trajectory
a

they could be submitted

piece, or else they could be left

form

mirror displays

tact that the

and organized such that

that

Beams

will continue to drain

reflections as the straight line of an endlessly receding

could be reorganized so
L

kind

infinity

The

permuting the form-class, Morris had, by 1967, hit on


the strategy of making works that, though they would

defined

is

trapdoor opened at the back of experience through

the series.

sink any residual idealism out of the idea of

[b

work more than any other that senality

this

as the opposite of progress, being instead a

iiiim-i v.iiin v

.1

hand

lines
ai

in

ing

an .uh
t

lent

order to

pco

own
make a

he sun's

mark. "Aligned with Nazca," Morris's reflection on the

Quarter horses

enigma of these

span (reminiscent of Watt's and Sam's shuttle),

seems

hang over the

to

plained talisman.

opens with an epigram that

lines,

text like

its

own kind

of unex-

was

stop
"I

am

not one of the big world.

was an old

refrain with

am

of the

Murphy, and a

little

world."

conviction,

The other
it made

that

material

Pollock, jackson

"Ann Form" was Morris's first


written analysis of what he would later call "The

aspect of Pollock's gesture, however, was


clear that one of the properties of his

from

55

because, as Morris wrote, "the duality

is

established by the fact that an order, any order,

is

operating beyond the physical things," Morris

turned approvingly to Pollock's example: "Probably

no

art can completely resolve this.

Pollock's,

comes

This was

seemed

so,

Some

art,

such as

close." 56

sup-

porting lathe. Without


those internal props to

enable the materials to


hold as (geometric) forms,
the cloth or Poster would

Pace and Progress

yield

and

gravity

to

become formless. What Pollock demonstrated with his


dripped and thrown paint was, Morris argued, the
division between the internal, rigid armature that
maintains form in the field of the vertical, and the
openness of matter to the gravity that pulls
horizontal

forcing

field,

forsake armatures and

Morris argued, because Pollock's order

plaster applied to

^^V
(^^^^g^\
/ \
j

of the rebellion not against but specifically under the

"rationalism"

is

frames or clay modeled


over metal armatures or

jP Hlflfe^.

1968 and the second from 1970, stage this new phase

Taking up that problem in the reception of


Minimalism in which repetition and serial organizations of simple elements seemed always open to
an unwanted, dualistic reading
Judd's despised

always the result of a

stretched over wooden

aegis of Jackson Pollock.

is

continual struggle against gravity, as canvas

J^

first

relation to gravity. Artistic

its

is

now observed,

Abstract Expressionist gesture, of finding a "device" to


a "mark." Except that both texts, the

paint

form, Morris

Phenomenology of Making." It is continuous with the


problem, posed by the opening rebellion against the

make

before he was forced to

deep track etched into the ground, the

product of this centaurian "device."

two

'

convictions, the negative first.

for the

himself to drop

for either the horses or

from exhaustion. The result

taken from Beckett's Murphy:

It is

time necessary

back and forth over a 200-yard

like cloth or latex

it

work

was

to

to yield to the

it

into the

ground. To

directly with soft materials

produce

art in

which "consid-

manipulating, so that "to

become as important as those of


space," and where, "random piling, loose stacking,

make

hanging, give passing form to the material."

matter he was

to be fused with the very

a mark" was not


work according to a
formal system, but to
expose a process that

erations of gravity

In the "Anti

to

Form"

designated as one of the

essay, Claes
first

was represented through an image of

his

continues over a duration

(1967), one of

absolutely coterminous

object to the ceiling of the gallery,

with the making of the

electrical cord falling floorward

object.

Acknowledging

article,

it

Soft

flaccid blades attaching the


its

and
Fan

limp

spaghetti of

and sprawling on the


in the

Morris himself had also explored this yield to

gravity and

able to recover process


to

Giant

ground. Although he did not illustrate this

that "only Pollock was

and hold on

its

Oldenburg was

to use such materials

its

defiance of "form" in two early

Tangle

as part

of the end form of the work," Morris saw this as a func-

"The stick which


which acknowledges the nature

Rope pieces made

in

1963 and 1964,

in

which the

tion of Pollock's relation to his tools:

free fall of the material into formlessness (and in

drips paint

case from vertical to horizontal) had been contrasted

is

a tool

it

is

with the geometric frames from which the ropes

sympathy with matter because

it

emerge.

of the fluidity of paint.


in far greater

Unlike the brush

sympathy with the nature of

But beginning in 1967, Morris had embarked on a


more systematic exploration ot gravity's production
of anti-form, for it was then that he began to work

been inherent

with

acknowledges the inherent tendencies and properties


of that matter.

far

Making the mark

in

one's tool had, of course,

dancers' manipulation of bizarrely


in their search for

And

in

the Judson

commonplace props

an aesthetics of "task performance."

so the notion of process art as a

mance came

form of perfor-

when

naturally to Morris, as

in 1969, for

an exhibition in Edmonton, Canada, called Place and


Process,

one

he proposed to ride several

felt.

Laying great lengths of fabric on the

floor, as

had Pollock, Morris then marked the material with


line, as had Pollock, except that where Pollocks line

was formed by liquid paint soaking into canvas,


Morris's was made by a razor slicing into the surface <>t
make the work
felt. All that was then necessary to
was to lift it onto the wall, where cra\it\ pulled

ROSALIND

Ki

11

against the order of this line and opened the work to

and aggressively against the grain

most

ot its

orthodox. Modernist interpretation. In the eyes of the

seemed

it

to defy gravity, hovering

being thought by

Smithson. Robert

the simple illustration used

in

Monuments

experi-

Smithson's

monuments was

ence that demanded that one


think it apart from anything

open grave

"optical''

bodily or physical

sing

don't

but the result will not

had produced

it

a cut.

want

avoided the edge that would cui

it

would

into space, the edge that, by isolating forms,

By not cutting,

differentiate figure from ground,

it

could allow the canvas to read as an unbroken continu-

And

undivided plane.

a singular,

ity,

of

the visual

and

field,

immediacy,

of

the-

ot

own

the viewers

perception

the Modernist logic, was the wr\ essence

By avoiding the production

within the

formulation

hut tor Morris, everything


indeed to do with

it

Tin

lengths

ot

tin

whi

could

to

maintain

drains oul

thi

of a systi

the formli

'

ni ss

m, and
arrives

Form

is

i,

ii

rati

parati

between things om
.,i

./

>ial

and an

increast

notion

of

of

anti-form, exemplified by his

the de- architectun of

own enactment of
alt Rundown I9i

his

made

"entropy

Buried

as realized in his Partially

visible,"

dshed (1970), and

\\

form's yield to gravity, as in

But the parallel between Smithson and Morris,


this

moment

might

call

in

the

the W

latefa

cor,

which

to say that anti-

is

form, an irreversible, abyssal endlessness,


a

type

ol

serialitj

that

at

1960s, relates to what wt

is

itself

has us true site in language.

Smithson wrote,

"In the illusory babels ol language,"

our plane

ol

'iits.

he

arr/tt

might advanct

sections oj

meanin

irregularis cami
plain

ot

the wall

in

the fabrii

or voids

but this

oj

unexpected

knowledgt

\ttomlt

./'/./

endless architectures

and counter-architectures

md.

end, art perhaps only meaning/ess

if

then

is

an

Smithson had always countered the


ol Minimalism, and specificallj

reading

\t tht

lou

and

in

thi

and

desi ribi ng

energj

di

b\

r\\ itt's

yield to paradox, his

distini

pli

ai

LeWitts

"concepts,"

ol

form

domain of gravit)
thi

rationalist
ol

supposed manipulation

wit

surfa

tm

diffi

ss

welcome

also

is

ssar]

of

n ntiai

onsi rvativi

in

enterpri

lii

extended
pit

la

Is

ol

Far from

Ian

fi

language guai anti eing

ii

difFerentiation

Morris had thus argued

ntropii

ridors oj history,

unknown humors,

echoes,

and to
dd inter-

to get lost,

specifically

intoxicate bimselj in dizzying syntaxes,

uts themselves

th<

entropy, in which

of

hi

ynesi

called neither figure nor ground

I"

horizontal field as the

the operatoi

he

onto

lilted

gaps thai som< how opt


[*h(

hundreds ofti

sand

disturbing theii

pulled open large gaps

thai

ross

from hooks or suspendi d from

ing
it)

a<

fal

regular slashes

work was

slicing not

the canvas plant

Systematil

of

n while the

metricallj

had

lint

Morris began to work with

felt

process

ed into their ph. mi

planar

whin

mn

half

in

sand on

Indeed, Smithsons imagination was idled with the

an

form,

oi

rigid

were submitted to
sIk

vision

of

Pollock's

something

cut, with

th<

onv< ntionall)

vision

to

forms (cut out

of

of

in

into space but into the continuity


as

wbitt

the work, then, could produce form

tie-Id),

as the law ot the

itsc-ll

and

entropic production

opticality,

iinbrokenness

that field, in an all-at-onceness that, according

itself.

division but

would

that plane

then, according to the Modernist logu


yield an analogue of the

sand box divided

\tdt

had

to," he

it

For Greenberg, the importance of Pollocks

was that

of

cutting edge that goes into

"A brush stroke can have

deep space when you


liquid line

an

it

turn grey; after that wt havt him run anti-ct

to

Knots

was

able to avoid the sensation that

explained

to

clockwise in the box until tht

vation in the development of


it

of

sandbox, whose

to explain the irre\ ersibilit)

bild and havt bim

into the unsized canvas, was


hailed by Greenberg as an inno-

drawing precisely because

it

with black rand on the ont

bleed

its

Picture in your mind's eye the

said. "

frequently softened by

One

Passaic."

of

a child's

entropy, Smithson advised his reader:

Clement Greenberg had


The dripped line itself,

as

his

in

horizontality Smithson stressed by comparing

mirage.

"a

it

purely

astt

(1967), hooks into the notion of entropj as that was

to explain

weightlessly before one's eyes like an effulgent cloud, a


field of

as

1968), or profligate Process pieces such as

web was prized

pictorially devout. Pollock's linear


specifically because

of Morris's telts, as well as

works such

ressively horizontal

Morris, of course, was reading Pollock's painting


directly

anti-form

In tins sense, the

the continuous disorder ot anti-form.

In

order

of

smithson

Ins

thread watt*

Everything

logit

insisted

LeWiti

thinks, writes, or has

The

dictory.

made

is

inconsistent and contra-

'original idea' of his art

is 'lost

mess

in a

of drawings, figurings, and other ideas.' Nothing

where

it

seems

to be.

is

the success or failure of the task), tends to ignore the

presence of the text, neatly, fanatically, pencih J


into the left corner of every sheet. Entering the third

Beckett returns, then, through the very guise of

As the body

tries to finish

dying, something

own

anti-form was

made

The

textuali-

the record of the task, once completed. But whether

explicit in the

diary he kept for Continuous Project Altered Daily


(1969), in

which he

duced by

his labors.

the beautiful equilibrium that marries subject and

mind and body. For the text is either the


command to do the task, given beforehand, or it is

a text, its logic is that of repetition to infinity, the

imitation of form produced by the abyss.

term, language, into the equation, the text pulls apart

mad

nonetheless, relentlessly continues. Taking the form of

ty of Morris's

talks about the bodily disgust pro-

object,

preceding or following, the text

how

regressive paradox of

has understood the task;

Never one with the


voice that puts in

its

appearance in Morris's work of the early 1970s, the


argumentative, internal drone that

fills

both

Hearing (1972) and Voice (1974), continues to attach the


third force of language to the staging of the

of these enactments

to be

is

found

in the series called

Blind Time, initiated in 1973 and returned to in 1976,


1985, and again in 1991- These drawings,

Time

made by

attempt in
with plate

either

"uncanny materi-

he

It

was

Freud tells us that


is experienced as
uncanny is precisely this

displacement of the single, coherent, collected

or of

shapes to be applied to

(phallic)

the sheet

ole of multiple, shifting,

were pure

a case of

said.'

sheet of paper

itself,

found the

what was expect-

form by an aureMirrored Cubes

spooky things gathered


r

around an unspeakable absence.


the Medusa, he said; this

is

This

is

the image of

the dreadful recurrence

of what the child must strive to repress: the appearance


of the "castrated" mother, proof of the oedipal threat.

areas,

everywhere redolent of the

The uncanny, he

and

pressure pressing back. In this, the objective geome-

become dangers

in the

world

the vertical

and horizontal bifurcations of the rectangular sheer,

example, or the masking tape deposited as a


take on the resonance of Maurice MerleauPonty's argument about the body's role in the phenom-

for

enology of perception.

It is

what he called the "internal

horizon" of the body's density, the fact that


a back, a left

and

a right, an

up and

it

has a

down,

that allows us to "surface" into a world always already

anticipated as meaningful. Mind, in this sense,


present in the very dimensionality of carnality:

is

What

The phenomenological reading of the Blind Times,


though it captures the striving after an exquisite

is

the return of this threat,


narcissistic exten-

thus, according to the infantile

"omnipotence of thoughts," protections of

logic of the

oneself

body describes

explained,

reminder that what were once

limit as a sense of pressure pressing against the

be a bod)

reflections "uncanny," a disruption of

those of the rectangular

oil.

like to

."
.

ed from Minimalism.

explored in the Leads: the experience of the body's

is it

is

to

disappearance of the "unitary" form behind a surface of

sions of oneself

and

command

Uncanny materiality Smithson

spread, take on exactly that haptic quality Morris had

front

what

say,

onward from one task

task, the textual

series

then another onion, then another

in a

"square"

we could

then another onion, then another pepper-

hand's pressure, the fingers' extension, the palm's

tries the

is,

mint, then another onion, then another peppermint,

what

mark" that would deposit a record of his


a smear of velvety powdered graphite mixed

These marked

".

another:

description of simple

Morris, with his eyes closed, would perform his task by


a

what pushes the

ality,"

exercises in "touch." For

"making

also

carrying out graphic


tasks geared to the

geometries

Blind

know whether one

mind/body

problem. But, perhaps, the most effortlessly beautiful

in

it

what opens up the

is

to

introduces the turtle.

The textual body The


relentless,

intentional

artist's

marking) and an outside (the external record of

His concepts are prisons devoid

of reason.""

anti-form.

balance between an inside (the

have suddenly

the double that

turned against one and

to one's very being.


is

no longer

It's

of

this sense

guardian but now

menace that accounts, Freud says, for the location of


the uncanny in the doppelganger, in the mirrors
through which departed spirits can re-enter the space
of the living, in the bodies of androids, and in the
endless series of substitutes for the threatened penis.

The uncanny is thus itself a serial production,


whose vehicle can often be the mirror, but whos<

medium is the body, and the mind, and langua


The casting of body parts, in a multiplication
of phalluses and phallic stand-ins. to torm

around an opening,
1980s, was one torm
uncanny seriality.

in
in

Ir.inu

the Hydrocal works of the

winch Morns pursued

ROSALIND

Ki:

this

Vetti. house of the


through the

Another, of course, was


and pleats

pieces, the folds

relt

which

of

permutability, Duchamp's "Litanies" merely illustrate or thematize

from 1970

Felts

gradually bloomed at the end

m
House

image

into the

(1983)

It

these works that the

meticulousness

of

their

Minimalist

of

now

is

seriality

able

under the

the repressed.

of

So that the later Felts conduct a rereading of


Minimalism by entering its own series into a new one,
which

may

turn

in

enter into

English

how

stood

(W

among

relation to,

iii

>>.

exhibition

was further peculiar


that

this,

singly,

le

followed

"This

12

pronounced

(W

tart"

whom

who had

of the .mists

own

to Ins

',

An

and

h.

Hi

Oxford

Rosi

'

>.

Notes,'

\n

in

mpia Press

<>l\

Hoefei
.1

study "i U

was

tit

il

firsi

t" placi

|ai

qui

.,t

tin

ract

and

l.ii

Rosi

10

pp

Cambridgi

Mortal Qmilioiu (Cambridgi

Nagel

early

to -in undi

inn. linn

In

he

.it

Duchami
\.

Administration to

ni

.iii. ti.

Buchloh,

Bf

in

\ted in

'

ritiqui

a luriti

1962

13

semiotii

.i

with

ni

of [nstitutioi

..i

iii.

I,. i,

.ii

in |oi

n
iii,

win.

to whii

It

inn in rnaki

Of all

ti

drawing

1.

li

n|

lo in

1.

rring to othi

by

losed

In

it

M,

n,.

it

1.

Noti

m lopmi

speaks

inn.

1961

I"

no

14,

An Aesthetics
v.

li

(Octobei 19

rransgression,"

ol

ot

ol

on

Man

1',

d in ludd

qi

1964), n p

I,

idptun

Si

describing

thi

<

multiplicity

Rorty says,

paci

is

made

e)
u

is

(February

'

synthesized

ncepts

ti

nfin

e
i.

ni

ms

(embedded

ol

sunn.

cannoi
I

whicl

rransci ndi ntal

si

thi

1.

sit

relation to the

Running

versus sin

.,i

whi n Ki

h 'I"

thi

spelled oui in thi

is

is

given

laim thai

..i

singula! presentations to

brought to consciousness

representations (unnoticed by

rintoom many
I

lrti

urns to knot*

in intuitions)

Kani

relations

tedui tion, Rorty says,

can only be conscious of objects

tivity

Galleries,

p. 11

18

collection

intuitions
.i

mind/body problem's

assumption
.,

by

il

In

1965),

16

"the assumption thai manifoldness

hai

[contains]

bin thai then

sense,

in ibid

.1

so mology and probh

ol this issue ol

no

19,

icepts) as analysed by

li

in

run

!84

Galleries

In

Richard Rorty

unless

fi

nd thai
Bui unliki

tin

id its

di

.mil ih. i> unity

ted within the


in

19)

"Wayward

the top ol

ai

it

DonaldJudd: Complett Writings 1959

Morri

first

1990

ii.n

tti

Harper and Row, 1989

\ri

Robin Morris

From

1969

ill

mi

An

traditional

.is

..i

of Morri

Conceptual
thi

Duchamp's

fun ing

as

Lahyrintbi

of

19,43

nivenity

relation to

ill say so") disruptivi

form

191

1),

he also places

as

Robert Rauschenberg

Benjamin Buchloh analyzes Morris's

Michel

ed

Silltr,

,1

Michelson,

|udd
11m. tn.

p 50

rransgression,"

ol

George Heard Hamilton (New

1960s (New York

lb*

.Mt

it. ih, s

Watt

See Hoefei

tlu

Nova

B9

Marctl Ducbamp, Salt

Morris, "Aligned with Nazca

19

novel in colloquj with

thi

si

Landscapes," his text for this catalo


"\i

positivism, although she specifically argui

tin

by

8(1965),

/''" s (Halifax

!94

with tins citation,


Paris

ritical

<

maliim,

Hen

no 6 (February

i.

lr* Yoarbooi

Aesthetics

Bergei opens th< lust chaptei

18

l>

195

read \\ ittgenstein in the

Artfimm

pp

I),

nivetsity Press, 197

them have

ol

to," pp. 274 9

B(

[bid

(New Vork

Allrcd Jules Aycr, Language, Trull

an

number

account, Jasper Johns,

ulpture,"

MorrisAn

Michelson, "Robert
Rosi

-iutk

kett, U

know

Donald Judd, "Speci6i Objects,

28;

Minimalist

French objective novel,

reprinted in Minimal Art

14,

IV Duchamp,

25).

X, Y, Z -...

relates the

ol

Novembet 1965], reprinted in Minimal


ed Gregory Battoxk [\e York Dmion.

960s was, according

Ruben Morns.

Robert

Corcoran Gallery

quite the contrary to tluir knowledge of

is

then adds,

One

p. 292).

rransgression,"

IM

[Washington.

Sanouillei and Elmei Peterson, trans

task performance
ol

cautions against assuming that these artists

sin

Am

i< ollegi ot

13.

resembled the

it

Aesthetics

Robbe-Grillet and the

Critical Anthology,

Inverted Shoulder

short time by another, less

.i

true. In tins

is

it

.itic r

An

reprinted in Donald Judd: CompUtt Writings 1959

seldom
but was

it

other things, Judson dance, which she calls

i.u.iliii;iK

to Al.un

sensibility

pp 222

in

il\

Row, 1962; 1939), p

An. 1969], pp. 55-59).


11
In her essay
A B C Art." Barbara Rose

1966), pp

Watt's smile

Hereinafter,

Themes in

Michelson, "Robert Morns

12.

s ~i

S56

.is

two

the

>.

the "dance ol ordinary language" and ot

early

23).

\i

French in

Annette Michelson's important early essay on Morris analyzes his

work

l)

statement (p

267 and pp

York: Harper and

1968],

was done"

it

of

in

English trilogy,

Ironi the

.ire

Molloy

Erwin Panofsky

9.

An: A

and thought he under-

17

published

lirsi

textual references to the trilogy arc preceded by

read" (Art in

waft hid jn-ople smile

citations

(p

statements by the Unnamable (p

\\ ittgenstein," she

had

pp 16

wen subsequently published


own translation (London John

Beckett's

The above

1959)

follows: "wordy-gurdy

themselves had read

Watt - "Watt

as a trilogy,

which, however,

Mark lour

trans

1950. 1951, and 1952, respectively; they


in

10.

Shoulder (1978),

of Stn<i

Press. 1990),

and Tbt L'nnamabte. All were

0,

"system," as in the repeated.

supple bands of Inverted

Tbt Logic

from Beckett's trilogy, which consists

Calder

perhaps, the brilliance

is,

of

uncanny and the repetition

sign of the

explicit

uncanny body.

petals of the

These

never so

directly as in House of the Vetti

of the vetti

to restage the

and

of the decade

(Ne* York Columbia University


8.

on the

basis of Gilles Deleuzc's aitaik

certainties of analytic philosophy in

and repetitions of the

swells

in tbt lar:^

it

argument forms rhc

Ilns

Morris came increasingly to read as genital. The

random

do noi enact

repetition, they

laims

itituted

w
is

batches
iup|

by our own

of alt representations, combination


through

objects.

is

the only one which cannot be given

For where the understanding has not previously combined,

it

cannot dissolve, since only as having been combined by the understanding can

anything that allows of analysis be given

and

Philosophy

to the faculty

of representation (Rorty,

Mirror of Nature [Princeton: Princeton University

the

Press, 1979], p. 153).

26. Rose,

"A B C Art,"

291.

p.

27. Morris, "Notes on Sculpture, Part 2," Artforum 5, no. 2 (October

1966), pp. 22-23, reprinted in Battcock, pp. 233-34.

28. Primar) Structures, organized by Kynaston McShine, was at the

Jewish Museum,

mounted

at rhe

in

New

York (April-June 1966);

Systemic Painting

was

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum by Lawrence

Alloway (September-November 1966).

News (September

29- Bruce Glaser, "Questions to Stella and Judd," Art

1966), reprinted in Battcock, p. 151.

Donald Judd: Complete Writings,

30.

vol. 2, p. 25, as cited in

Yve-Alain

Donald Judd, exhibition catalogue (New York: Pace Gallery,

Bois,

1991), note 12.


31. Sol LeWitt,

quoted

in

Frances Colpitt, Minimal Art: The Critical

University of Washington Press, 1990), p. 58.

Perspective (Seattle:

Yve-Alain Bois called

my

attention to this statement.

Work

32. Morris's master's thesis, "Form-Classes in the

made

Brancusi" (Hunter College, 1966),

ed

in

George Kubler, The Shape of Time: Remarks on

(New Haven:

of Constantin

use of the concept as articulatthe History of Things

Yale University Press, 1962).

33. Robert Smithson, "Donald Judd," in 7 Sculptors, exhibition


catalogue (Philadelphia: Institute of Contemporary Art, 1967), reprint-

ed in The Writings of Robert Smithson, ed.

New

York University

34. Beckett, quoted in

Nancy Holt (New York:

Press, 1979), p. 22.

Moms,

"Aligned with Nazca,"

p. 25.

35. Morris, "Anti Form," Artforum 6, no. 8 (April 1968), pp. 33-35;

"Some Notes on the Phenomenology of Making: The Search

for the

Motivated," Artforum 8, no. 8 (April 1970), pp. 62-66.


36. Morris, "Anti Form," p. 34.
37. Ibid.
38. Ibid., p. 35.
39-

Clement Greenberg, Art and Culture:

Critical Essays (Boston:

Beacon

Press, 1961), p. 169.

40. Greenberg, as quoted in Steven Naifeh and Gregory

Jackson Pollock:
p.

An

(New York:

American Saga

White Smith,

Clarkson Potter, 1989),

535.

my Optical Unconscious,
MIT Press, 1993), pp. 243-320.
Smithson, "The Monuments of Passaic," Artforum 6, no. 4

41. For an expansion of this argument, see

(Cambridge, Mass.:

42.

(December 1967), reprinted

in

The Writings of Robert Smithson,

pp. 56-57.

43- Smithson,
International
p. 67.

"A Museum of Language

(March 1968), reprinted

in

in the Vicinity

of Art," Art

The Writings of Robert Smithson,

For an analysis of Smithsons relation to language, see Craig

Owens, "Earthwords,"
44. Smithson,

October, no.

"A Museum

10

1979), pp. 121-30.

(fall

of Language in the Vicinity of Art," p. 69-

45. For such a reading, see "Blind

Time Drawings, 1973"

pp.

24449

in this catalogue.

46. Smithson, "Donald Judd," p. 22.


47.

Sigmund Freud, "The Uncanny," The Standard

Psychological Works of

Sigmund Freud,

ed.

(London: Hogart Press and the Institute

Edition of the Complete

James Strachey,

for

vol.

17

Pscyho-Analysis, 1953-

1973; 1919), pp. 214-35.

ROSALIND KRAUS

WAYWARD LANDSCAPES
seem

not

to speak, it is

Morns

In 1973, Robert

Nazca

lines.

I.

year

about me.

most

traveled to Peru to observe the

made

tor

own temporal
The description

process of investigation, his

relationship to the site as spectator.

Morns provides
repressive,

centers on

between the

dialectic

.1

overpowering verticality

Nazca was neither

What

Nazca

instead, he saw in the

publicness;

its

phenomenological passage

model

be

scientific or

anxieties

mathematii

as the

spate, in ettct

the art

t,

to the vertK al axis

involved

ol that d<

adi

the institutional hit-ran hies ol the

of

modern

sot letv

Ould offer

moments
e,

was

iewet and

wedded

at

museum

little at

ess

awa) from the Minimalist

ol tin

ami

.,i

.1

object

objei

oltl,

the

in

logic al

iui isi

rui iion ot
.il

in

'

nil'

Insure

ii

.i

uion resonant

;upported

problematii

.in ot

In

lisi

art

over) in

h<

si

It

In

ape

in th(

wt

n ch<

abstrai

ii

inabilit) to gi

'

at thi

si

spai

inoiion.il

.ii

and

w nh

In

si

ch(

al

the self."

ol

our reach into the

humor

that define

Rather than reletting

cion

and

lives ol

isual arts:

when

space

itself

model, he looked

Murph) and Malone

is

once

at

intellec tually

world where people

real, a

in the

own

it

pain and

contradiction and paradox

and every thought

it

II

bet kett's

End their emotional

nevet to

where people
oppression that robs them ol

is

or

also a place

tins

iln

e ol sell

idea ol
hi

iron)

agmi

i.i

is

ii

onl) aftei

we accept

the

out selfhood chat wt i.m trul) establish

ot

st 111

identity

paradoxical and complex space

mod

in. ii ioii

is

d( lint

he had embraced

d through stairs

ol

ol

the

unity

through mimetii detail and

was not new

earlier, in a set ies ol dani es

world,

exposed

beset b) aseemingl) limitless autism

sensor) experience

physii

also

it

examining, testing, and

world that

condemned

semblam

of how

ts ol

where the individual replaces the mythic

ilit)

w< n

n lation co ch<

mi

ot a

milum

argued, allowed for

aspet

protagonists journej around and around

center,
i

nam

vehicle tor shaping our notion

entered

world

physical center

ironic

struggle against the

its

lab)

is

in circles

ndered

ngi

and

and

losi

ever)

ult

universe

when

systems that reiterated the

Morns ultimately

lives
a

and viscerally

an both

earl)

manipulated, and subjugated b)


But

,|

mon complex understanding

world around u

ii

mi

psy< hologii al landsi

iIh

toi

Sinn tun of this work,

in iln

i,

arthworks and installation

"solipsisi
i

iew

pr< dii at<

ometry of out oppression,

mi!

oi

our

ol

exist in a

confusion,

d on ai ritic al v
while orthodox Minimalism

objei

were built on
t

art ol

ol

allowing the
1

selfhood, however, his argument suggested a rather

to the barren

in

ol

as an extension ol the sell, for Ins

tin

tti

art tor

extraordinar) possibility tor the

ess

me

st.

.on,.

and even

tht m.

dust, grime, and even

ol

the pOSSibilit) ol art as

and the

arthworks and installation

argument was

.m

measure

ol facilitating

the complexities

ol

to

the earl) 1970s might provide the possibility

Morris's

contradk tions that drive our alienation chose

ahstrat

greater

of /><

undefiant \eparatenesi

in the autistii pi rmt

incapable

then

humor

tht

other words, those resolutely abstract spaces were

men who

represented In the

in the plastic arts

physical existence,"

private, individual space ol the self, Morris reasoned,


tin- slntt

andfor
bam ImL to do

[paces oj

//><

ultimately shaping the interior space

still

the crumbling intellectual architectun

It

fashioning out spaa

rtist

understood the extent to which

In

oriented

dialogue between

in a critical

own

1960s Minimalist

ot

object that was relatively stable and

gallery

thinking

aJ

urban, industrialized spat

c>l

Literary

Beckett must sun/)

But

"a single indi\ [dual's limit in

ontradicted by the

<

geometry, and abstraction

tht telf

An

isolation.

of

confidt >n

us

Nazca could serve

This freedom, he reasoned, was

Times

itself.

While endorsing the new

for aesthetic experiences that return to the

through

instant

rst

an extension of
now bang built

./i

pert ti\ ing self [to] take

individual those processes of perception and cognition


lost

see>.

world in

./

"something intimate

lines

at

greatcoat fluffed u ith the

.i

Supplement uj\

ii

propose that his

to

<

insidt

and unimposing," something that could help us


to rethink the way our bodies relate to the world.

Morns went on

rt

Forifthesi \paces imp/) aloneness they indicatt nont of tht

impressed him most about

large scale nor

its

t/.u

Murphy, a Malone, ora

with the dust, tht grimness, or even

and the more expansive, liberating realm of


the Peruvian plain.

discontinuous with

./

endlessly

ideas

these//

urban spaces

<>t

xpact

and precise!) permuted his limitei


and meagt belongings. IL rt counting andfarting

an aesthetics of the self

artist's

out for himself in the post-

yean an

II

of the world. In those spaces,

his

Aligned with Nazca" constitutes

section of

'nna>:

The gi

war

what Michel Fbucault would call a description of the


monument" a meticulous and personal diary of
the

Beckett, The

later, in a critical analysis ot his

argument

significant

first

Samuel

not about me.

it is

journey published in Artforum, the artist

The

Maurice Berger

inst sui h

co Morris

A decade

reated from 1962

an

arti<

Although theses dances represent

ulation

ol

the

sell

his only lull scale

choreographic works, they formed a conceptual core


for

much of his thinking about the vicissitudes


War (1963, no. 56), a jousting tournament

of the

self:

between Morris and the

artist

Robert Huot, examined

masculine power and aggression; 21.3 (1964, no. 57), a


disorienting art-history lecture, questioned the extent

which conventional perceptions understood through

to

language can be taken for granted; Arizona (1963,

body

no. 55), a study of the

in

motion, examined the

and productive

relationship between useless

Site (1964, no. 63), a juxtaposition

laborer and a naked Carolee

Schneemann

Olympia, explored the nature of the

and

its

relation to play

tasks;

of Morris as manual
as Manet's

artist's

labor

and freedom; Check (1964),

a dispersal of forty performers into a large audience,

and
Waterman Switch (1965, no. 69), a nude encounter
between Morris and Yvonne Rainer and a transvestite

refigured the artist/spectator relationship;

accomplice played by Lucinda Childs, broached


the scandalous subjects of sexuality and liberation.

While these dances centered on various processes and


task performances, the reliance on props, sound
tracks, words, and role-playing allowed greater access
to the humanistic,

emotional space of the self often

banished from the resolutely abstract, antinarrative


realm of 1960s Minimalist sculpture and dance.

examined

In these works, Morris

own

his

role as actor:

neither a directly autobiographical "I" nor a neutral


task performer, he walked the fine line between

representing different personae and attempting to find

own

a place for those fragments of his

him

that might allow

examine,

to

history

test,

and shape the

interior space of the self.

He holds

a shield adorned with a photograph of President Eisenhower.

wears a

His opponent
in

advance

dance
at

in

make

to

total

suit of

their

darkness.

armor made

of junk.

They have agreed

weapons harmless. They begin

large

gong sounds

their

continually.

They stand

opposite sides of the stage. They taunt each other with voodoo

dolls.

They

hesitate.

They charge

at

each other. They clash. He

releases a pair of white doves. They fight as the doves flap overhead.

They run out

weapons. They

of

fight hand-to-hand.

They

fall

War, 1963. Morris

In

with Robert Huot at

Judson Memorial Church. New York.

21.3, 1964. Morris


Theater,

Man

Ray,

print. 8'

New

in

costume

for

performance

performance

at

in

Stage 73, Surplus Dance

Marcel Duchamp as Rrose Selavy. 1924.

S.

collaboration

York.

2x6";

The Samuel

to

inches (21.6 x

White

III

7.5 cm). Philadelphia

Gelatin-silver

Museum

of Art,

and Vera White Collection.

10

the floor. They


for three

roll

throughout most of Arizona, a position that neither

toward the audience. Blackout. The gong sounds

disrupted nor questioned the

more minutes.

iewer's sense ot self, the

made

disorienting finale of twirling lights


He stands barefoot

a single finger to indicate the start of the

gesture that

sunglasses and a blue denim

list

He wears

accompanied by

of instrucbons

monotonous sound

for sorting

He stands center

returns.

his

blue

He throws

He stands

Blackout.

joint.

lights

was pushed into

memory:

and hence into

a centerless space

which the psychological

in

maintaining

darkness of the hall, Morris was

his place

but masked by the

fairly invisible at this

point. In contrast to Panofsky's notion of perception

emerging into

of

labored breathing and a heart beating. Blackout. He twirls an electrical

cord capped by two blue

mesmerizing repetition served

in the absolute center ot the action

with his back to the audience.

accompanied by a sound track

a javelin at a blue target,

their vertiginous,

center was perpetually unsure

He rearranges

a blue T-form constructed of a lamp stand and two sticks attached

by a swivel

audience's concentration on the luminous specks

and

kind of autistic solipsism

cows. He leaves the

impossible

it

viewer to he comfortable or compliant

The

it

track, a rambling

stage.

tor the

to suppress responses rooted in narrative or

upper

are almost imperceptible. His

used by farmhands

He

stage. Blackout.

and trousers. He twists

movements

torso so slowly that his


actions are

shirt

raises

section (a counting

first

introduce each subsequent episode).

will

He

the middle of a large, darkened stage.

in

clear

meaning bound by

historical

convention, the clash ot reduplicated voices and the


intentional lapses in synchronization that permeated

over the heads of the audience. The

lights slowly dim. Blackout.

21.

also frustrated the spectator's ability to render

Tu

Marcel Duchamp,

122'

m', 1918.

Oil

on canvas and paintbrush. 27

inches (69.9 x 311.8 cm). Yale University Art Gallery,

Gift of

the

estate of Kathenne S. Dreier.

He steps up

white

shirt,

He begins

podium situated

to a spotlighted

darkened stage. He adjusts


and striped

He drops

tie.

his lecture. His

moves

is

He

and out

in

a gray

suit,

was eschewed, thecontem

feels his chin.

about the

echoed by a tape

haltingly,

moments

meaning from the performance. In this strange theater,


ol spontaneity
in which even the most benign instant

the middle of a

dressed

hat

of synchronization

in

me

acquaintance greets

on the street by removing

from a formal point of view


within a configuration that
lines,
I

"When an

Iconology, describes a single, everyday gesture:

is

his hat,

forms part

world of vision.

automatically do, this as an event (hat removing),


limits of purely

When

of clashing

\s.is lost .is

lell

I'u

identity,

Morris's first threi dances

within
pi

.i

fragmt

rformani

nt<

Morris's

ni

d visual and aural

oi

ikewed temporal setting

ol

n,
ii

audiena
i

21)

,i

u|

li

'i

iv<

oupli

ll'ilil.lll

Mm'

'In

nl

an

could be

ai

ci

maintained
tion on

si

i.i

ili<

ni

he
passivi

being
1

is

oherent

consistent connection with


al "I

sc

tion ol a

fragmented

hi Ins

prim

Duchamp

For

named

I,

reared

a ret

sell to

som<

iple influence

Duchamp,

only by absurd aliases

R Mutt, marchand du

human

identic]

rirj

found du

Ins
ni
ii

>ui

ol his

sel

Marsllavy,

"The

idea

an essential concept

invention

Duchamp said

mi. ept <! a

Ifhood

identitj
.

(the artist

doesn't exist at all in reality,

believe in,"

elliptii al

loud, repetitive

threat! ning

spe< tatoi

H lationship to

ol

these

field; in

ol

although Morns remained

always riven, torn between multiple possibilities

Kicisc Selavy,

in

violent clashing

In

with

and even

Although the

ntri<

'I

and 21.3

prom

the 1960s, Marcel

w.is

was defined

irizona,

identity was an extension

s,

W&r,

extent parallels the work

sounds and actions. Silence. Blackout.

dissonant

(the art historian), or even with a stable "von."

"In

have already

formal perception and entered

both actor and audi

well:

ol

In this sea ol

ions

and mis, ues anj sense

ih. ii
In

at

personhood

either an autobiographic

.phere of subject matter or meaning." The lecture reaches a

crescendo

by the histrionic dash

dislot ations

could not maintain

of the general pattern of color,

my

was confused

resolutely at the center ol Ins performance, the viewei

see

nothing but a change of certain details

and volumes which constitute

overstepped the

what

argument

Panofsky's

ol

ultural (inks that define the tipping ol a

sounds and overwrought

a pouring sound

later,

heard. His lecture, a verbatim excerpt from Erwin Panofsky's

Studies

as

in

his glass with water. Several

fills

in

is

his left hand.

words come out

recording of the speech that

He

He

his glasses.

and which

don't

ambivalence toward

onventionalized -mA fixed nut ion


li.nnps strategies for

m.u nines

foi

<lc

essentializing

shattering the mythii

language, sexuality, and representation

waj into Morris's formal and theoretical

Marcel Duchamp, Fountain, 1917,

reproduced

in

lost.

Photo by Alfred

The Blind Man, no. 2 (May 1917),

Anemic Cinema, 1926.

Marcel Duchamp,

Stieglltz,

white

p. 4.

film.

from 35

Still

mm

black-and-

Private collection.

Widow (and copyrighted by Rrose

vocabulary through his reading of Robert Lebel's

is

monograph on the Dadaist master in 1959, the year


of its publication. 8 "I was bored with the deaf and
dumb objects of high modernism, objects which, more

herself); the inverted urinal (Fountain [1917]) that

or

less,

have refused to accept their transitive

and conditional

"My

influence.

Duchamp was
idea that

all

status," Morris has said of

fascination with

Duchamp's

and respect

related to his linguistic fixation, to the

of his operations were ultimately built

Duchamp was
and contingent
spiraling

itself."

and the form of the female

sex.

The internal contradictions


Duchamp's work allow identity

One such

known

The term

Jakobson

is

"shifter"

was

initially

used by

is 'filled

with signification' only because

identity by contextualizing

within a sentence, phrase, or physical gesture.

This arena of operations not only fascinated Morris,

pronoun

dependent on

dynamic of his work of the 1960s and

the shifter

Searching for a solipsistic subject that could


its

own

complexities and division,

Duchamp

that
"I"

and defining meaning

"this" is a shifter, its

shaped the aesthetic, theoretical, and ideological

sustain

it

empty." 12 Essentially, shifters assign personal

realms of process, temporal experience, and language.

early 1970s.

Roman

to describe "that category of linguistic

perceptual states that would allow art to enter into the

it

as the

Duchamp's dislocation

of identity and the inherently autistic nature of his

sign [that]

for

example, are works that demonstrate his interest in

swing between other

rooted in the use of the figure of speech

work."

states. Optique de precision (1924), or the

that motivate
to

oscillation of subjectivity,

"shifter," plays a central role in

indeed fascinated with transitive

puns of his film Anemic Cinema (1926),

alludes simultaneously to the male excretory system

polarities as well.

for

on a sophisticated understanding of language

also a Fresh

its

referent;

"this

meaning can

and "you"

The

meaning wholly

it is

only

when we

qualify

pen" or "this cup," for example


exist at all.

The

personal pronouns

are also shifters because their referents

looked beyond the standards of normalcy that had

are entirely contextual, shifting in

often defined the stable self in twentieth-century

conversation volleys back and forth between speakers.

Western thought;

As Rosalind Krauss has argued,

argued,

it

was the

for

him, as Annette Michelson has

linguistic

and behavioral structure

meaning

it is

as the

precisely a

collapse of control over these qualifying factors

of autism that formed the most convincing parallel to

of language that characterizes Duchamp's transposition

our sociological disequilibrium."' Just as The Bride

of the shifter into visual language.

Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even (191523) identifies

psychological centering inherent in the normal use of

the subject as perpetually divided between the

personal pronouns

worlds of the bachelor and the bride

that demarcate the boundaries of a conversation

a metaphor, of

course, for the inner contradictions that define

sexuality

Duchamp's work

divided psychological

self:

female alter ego Rrose Selavy; the French window that

sense of

the smoothly functioning shifters

down in his work.


The problem of naming an

often breaks

continually mirrors a

the artist in drag as his

The

individuated

central to the condition of childhood autism


all

silt is

also

lor

children, however, the ordering .uul applii ation

ol

MAUHK'K HKHCJKH

personal pronouns

mum mum

difficult to master, and, in feet,

is

the conceptual distinction between "I" and "you"

be learned. In cases

or the lasc things to

one

is

of adult-onset

aphasia, where the ability to orient speech correctly


is

entirely lost, personal

pronouns are among the

first

things to deteriorate; in the case of the autistic child,

achieving this orientation

As Krauss points out,


between the

"I"

Duchamp's

in

precisely this distinction

and the "you" that most often

fails

regressive world: the aimlessly pointing

finger in the painting

m' (1918); the complex

'in

and inversions

alliterations

almost impossible

is

is

it

puns of

in the revolving

Anemic Cinema that continually confuse the subjectobject relationship; the tense interchange between the

and the "other" that charges the transvestism

"I"
or

Rrose Selavy. Indeed, many ol Bruno Bettelheim's

clinical observations

on autism

in children

the collapsed shifters, obsession with revolving disks

with an oscillating

(as

being

fen), fantasies of

machine, and withdrawal from coherent speech into


world of private allusions and riddles

are evident

throughout Duchamp's oeuvre.


These autistic formations are to some extent also
present in Morris's dances and his

constructions

Duchamp- inspired

the earl] 1960s; the repetitive,

ot

dizzying sounds anil hyperactive, disjunctive play

ot

convention and meaning

in

War, the confounding

viewing

21.

of

where the

J,

self,

defined by

common

experience mk\ memory, yields to the solipsism,

who must

subject

world;

renegotiate

hypnotic effect

tin-

ot

confusing, labyrinthine

the spinning Lights

the construction Pbarmai


1962),
two small shapes, juxtaposed between two
Circular mirrors, seem to spiral in endless repetition
the compulsive and urn h.mistK tasks" ot Arizona;
in Art: ">u, or

in

the linguistit play and private puns ot a


ot

Dm ha m

Cunt [1963, no

Litanu

1961

>.

vers

ot

in

lei

.i.l.i

mi

ii

Mi trace

a half

oi

hours, the

text ol "litanies ot

oi his

1963

ol

the artist,

[964

oi

dislocated and

emotional and intellectual

le<

ttoencephalogtam and lead


X

ln(

has

/9. 7 x

ot the

1962, Painted wood and mirrors, 18

(29.2x91.4

Inchi

Mori

Stage 73, Sutplus

in .hi K

two ami

(tamed with metal and glass. 70't*

Pharmacy

2K

rfornu r

43.2 cm). Collection

site

hi< h, tor

ephalogram

Self Portrait (EEG)


labels,

36

Pt

no, 52],

Duchamp's Green Box (published in 1"'


(EEC (1963, no 14), which consists

Self Portrait

>M.

hariot," copying n directlj from the typographic

the wasteful onanism

54]);

in

repeatedh wrote out the

artist
(In

|1

number

inspired constructions (e.g.,

>-

Switch [I960], Swift Nigbt Ruler

an

whuh

cm). Collet tion

irolee

Dam

>

Schneemann
Nrw York

IIiimIit,

'

oi the artist.

in

performance

at

Yvonne Rainer, The Mind

Church,

center; the

two dozen or so objects and drawings of

rulers, rods,

New

produced between 1961 and 1964 that fundamentally

at

Judson Memorial

York.

approach to personality and meaning was not entirely

commensurate with

and other objects of measurement

a Muscle: Trio A, 1966. Yvonne Rainer

Is

performance with David Gordon and Steve Paxton

in

was never

either sensibility. Morris

comfortable, for example, with the formalism of

challenged "objective" or fixed standards by

the Minimalist choreographic milieu out of which he

manipulating or skewing calibration.

emerged. Having participated

in

Ann

Halprin's San

Francisco improvisational dance workshop in the


He stands upstage and
He

arms are

right of center. His

dressed

folded. His back

work clothes and boots. He wears

is

to the audience.

papier-mache mask that reproduces, without expression,

features.

Downstage

is

left,

in

a white box conceals the hardware for the

sound track, a tape of construction workers

He walks upstage center

first

board

off

stage.

drilling

to a large structure

washed plywood boards. He


the

his facial

He

with jackhammers.

composed

slowly begins to dismantle


returns.

He removes the

of whiteit.

He takes

rest of the

late-1950s

where

task performance, non-narrative

improvisation, and intuition were championed

Monte Young

the performance projects of La


early 1960s, Morris

was drawn

operational, and task-oriented choreography of the

Judson Dance Theater

in

New

York." Deconstructing

the style, conventions, and aesthetics of ballet and

Modern dance, these choreographers

who, in addition
Morns, included Trisha Brown, Lucinda Childs,

to

the last panel. She

Steve Paxton, and Yvonne Rainer

is

revealed reclining on a lounge of pillows and

powder and a ribbon

around her neck, she recreates Olympia's pose. He walks downstage


left.

He

He moves one

carries

it

on

of the

his back.

plywood boards

He kneels next

into various positions

to

it.

He puts

the board

down. He walks upstage center. He covers her with a board. He


returns

downstage

left.

He

turns his back to the audience. Blackout.

the

to the passive,

boards, relocating them to other parts of the stage. He takes away

white fabric. Naked, except for a dusting of white

and

in

advoi ated

the elimination of narrative and the employment

everyday movements and activities

They placed emphasis on

in their

oi

dances.

the temporal actions and

interrelationships of the performer rather than on Ins

The operational
members of

or her personality or autobiography


exercises choreographed by soon

the juilson group

While the dances were influenced by Duchamp's


autistic economy as well as by the work

oi

of Morris's avant-garde dance contemporaries, his

a degree,

Morris's dances

and

wen

<

Minimalist sculpture
shared us

<

simultaneously explored

in

oexisteni with the nsi


in

the mid-1960s and, to

on( erns.

hart bj Rainer,

MAIHIlii

who

S3

and worked with Morris

lived

mid-1960s,

in the

new

the areas of convergence between the

lists

sculpture

and the new dance:

energy equality

factory fabrication

1.

\\9

DANCES

OBJECTS

and

"found" movement
2.

unitary forms, modules

equality of parts

3.

uninterrupted surface

repetition

4.

nonrejerential forms

neutral performance

and discrete events

5. literalness

task or tasklike activity

6. simplicity

singular action, event, or tone

7.

human

human

scale

scale

As an example, Rainer pointed out


gestures in her dance The

(1966) were not mimetic but

Modern dance,

body
end,

was "geared

takes the actual weight of the

it

go through the prescribed

to

was the task

it

and

Eliminating

literal.

Rainer's choreography

time

to the actual

Muscle: Trio

and the prescribed narrative time

narrative references

of

that the actions

Mind Is a

itself

and the

motions."''' In the

stresses sustained

by

the body in expediting that task that determined the

"The demands made on the body's

dance's structure.

(actual) energy resources," observed Rainer, "appear to

be commensurate with the task


the

floor, raising

would get out of a

as one

walk down the

or

movements
lit

getting up from

it

when one

stairs

mimetic ...

are not

etc.

much

chair, reach for a high shelf

The
manner

not in a hurry.

is

for in their

execution they have the factual qualities of such

The pedestrian

actions.""'
Is

be

an arm, tilting the pelvis,

a Munlt was reflected

character of The

dam

of the

New

in

performance

Judson Memorial

at

York.

artist

grounded the discourse of Site,

extent that ol Arizona and

was eliminated (David Gordon,

er"

Church,

Mind

in the work's rejection

hit-ran hies of traditional dance: the position of

"principal

Arizona, 1963. Morns

21,

},

subjectivities: here, female prostitute

Duchamp,

as he did to

whom

and male worker.

Paxton, and Rainer held equivalent roles on stage); the

In contrast to

nan issism

a deautobiographizing process in which the work

attai

bed

the "beautiful" dancer's body

t<>

was suppressed (ordinary street clothes were worn); and


romantii
artifii

Kami

gestures were discouraged. "The

balleti<

performance has been reevaluated," observed

ol

Ai lion, or

what one dots,

and important than the exhibition


and altitude, and that
through submerging
is

at

oi

not even Oneself, one

tion

[more) interesting

is

ol

an best be

lot

USed on

the personality; so ideally one


is

a neutral

lot

urn.

movements,

intrit

.md

historical references,

this

kind

ol

ate

sound

tr.u ks,

and elaborate

anonymous posing

favored

l>\

xampli

was

lass laboi

built

and

n adii

tin

thi

ii'

Morns, wearing

faithful reading ol
in

many Judson

I"

19 i0)

II'

It

fai

.t

(1st

(a

Herbert Marcuse

ilitate this

at

mask

much

oi

her

ol S//t

ot his

OU n lair, was engaged

"various job activities [he| bad while working in

in

onstrui tion

As

it

to undersi ore the impossibility oi being a

lor

when a student
in

in

l>\

ontamt

Art ana's

land the

at

the

understanding, the

tl

numerous autohiogr.tphu

"method

for sorting

al

ows"

tual instrut tions for sorting

the adolest ent Morris and his father,

ows used

who was

in

the hvestot k business; the artist's lassoing motion

in ailed his work as

Marxian

Reed College

references
it

own

the mid- 1960s, while

Morris's tlaiu es

produt tion gleaned from his

philosophy and psyt hology

mid

84

ol tht

oi

avoided

on an analogy between working

work

barat teristit oi

horeography

neutral doer uninst ribed by ideology or history,

texts,

choreographers Th< ideological content

narrative

horeographii literalness as well as the

(is)

panit ular person or

self-representation; Schneemann's nudity, tor

example, was also

artist as a

"Rrose signals

Morris's performers were permitted a degree

master.
of

Mut Morris's dances, involved as they were with


-

bed Iron) the

notorious

harat ter

tletat

tor

some

professional

in specific,

an

history at

1961
a sei

horse wranglet

tin

1950s;

related to his experience as a graduatt student in

21

Hunter (

63; and UKr/t

nun

ni

ollege in

New Mirk from

rman Switch was the name

roadway

in

San Prani

isi

ol

o he had surveyed

in the early 1950s.

Of this

autobiographical content,

Morris observes:

Although
that

is

had sympathy with Duchamp's

never centered,

kind ofpresence

bothered

narcissistic

drew on

I even

shape this persona. While

to

effortless

work

Modern dance

was trying other ways

lot.

a persona. To some degree

own past

wasn't interested in

body doing

every psychological nuance.

me a

notion of a self

wanted to manifest a particular

my performances.

in

showing the perfect,

and masking

to establish

the events of my

many

of the

Judson performers were involved in blank-faced, neutral

a
name it, to acknowledge that this
a person and the audience must deal with

movements.

persona

to

character

is

self-consciously trying to create

frame

it,

to

25

that person.

It is

was

not surprising then that in a recent essay, Morris,

names that characterized

referring to himself by special

various aspects of his

work

(the Minimalist sculptor

"Major Minimax," for example, or the earthworker


"Dirt Macher"), combined corporeal signifier and

proper

name

"Body Bob"

to refer to his

choreographic persona. 26
Indeed, Morris played a tangential role in only one

dance piece

Check. This work,

which the

artist

considered his least successful dance, was performed


only twice

1964 and
in 1965.

at the

at the

Moderna Museet

in

Stockholm

Judson Memorial Church

in

New

in

\brk

Engaging the audience more directly than

Waterman

any of the other dances, Check was organized around


strategies of infiltration

chairs were placed at

room, with
performers

aisles

Rainer

in

Switch, 1965, Morris, Lucinda Childs, and Yvonne

performance

at the Festival of the Arts

Today, Buffalo.

and displacement. About 700

random

in the center of a large

rendered actions. Repeatedly dispersing upon a signal

around the perimeter. Forty

men, women, and

executed

through the entire space. At a given signal, the forty

resume their wandering, the performers formed


what Morris has termed a "proto-audience." Since the
approximately 700 spectators were free to sit or stand

assembled into groups

as they

children

to

various actions in these aisles and then "wandered"

for simple,

simultaneously

watched, the performed actions were mostly

them. "Purposely antithetical" to his

invisible to

previous dances, Morris reminds us that in contrast to

had "no central focus, climax, dramatic

these, Check

Two L-Beams, 1965.


24 inches (243.8

Painted plywood, two units, each 96 x 96

243.8

61 cm).

intensity, continuity of action."

some of the

As such,

it

suggested

neutrality and task-orientation of

the Judson Minimalists without the narrative and

interpersonal complexities of his other dance pieces. 27

The stage

is

set with fake stones and two sets of plywood tracks.

tape recording of
stage. Blackout.

Boccanegra

rolling

stones drones on. The stones

lush aria

blares.

He

is

roll

along the

from Giuseppe Verdi's opera Simone

clutched

in

a tight, face-to-face

embrace

with her. They are both nude. Their bodies glisten with a coating of

Another

woman

appears. She

dressed as a man

mineral

oil.

and

She walks alongside them as they navigate the

tie.

She holds
line

a ball of twine.

She

is

is

in

suit

parallel tracks.

seemingly directed by the taut

stretched over her shoulder to a point off stage. The aria ends.

Blackout. The

woman dressed

holding the end of a long pole

as a

man

stands at center stage

capped by a red

flag.

Holding the flag

MAURICE BEROER SB

end

of the pole

in

front of him, he runs around

in

circles. His

recorded

voice talks about rearranging the stage. Blackout. Three real stones

appear on stage. At stage


study of a muscular

man

an Eadweard Muybridge locomotion

rear,

a stone

lifting

permeates the

of his voice

He

hall.

A sound

track

reading a passage about water

is

from Leonardo's notebooks. Blackout. The two nude figures once


again walk along the tracks accompanied by the Verdi
mercury-filled vial

in

He pours

his hand.

down

the mercury

He holds a

aria.

her back.

each cube were sloped

idea of completely losing himself in his art


to Morris

an

who was

artist

so fearful

relinquishing control that he refused to enter the

of

Labyrinth (1974, no. 119) in Philadelphia

succumb

to his

his dances

own

1965, no. 67), an

in

he

lest

known

shape, the gestalt,

(despite the displacement of

the same

at

two

ot its sides). In the

simplest shapes, such as cubes and pyramids, "one sees

and immediately
-

The

'

believes' that the pattern within

the

tact of

altered gestalts of Battered Cubes prevent

who now moves around

the spectator,
a

the piece as

it

the individual shapes in the arrangement; one has

work

understand

in timt to fully

its

nuances.

another work, Three L-Beami

In

Morns juxtaposed

1965, no.

i),

three large, /.-shaped polyhedrons.

the artist to the center of his work. Perhaps the most

The three identical forms, with their massive eight-

dramatic, albeit metaphoric, representation of this

foot extensions,

return occurs in Morris's last dance, Waterman Switch.

the floor: one lying on

an absurd love duet," wrote David Antin, "and

is

It

there

sense that the artist

is

'simulating'

is

Duchamp:

deliberately recalled

man

Rrose Selavy

guiding

woman

dressed as

the naked and glistening

and Bachelor beyond

bruit

the

a brilliant inversion of the transvestism of

No

return

Waterman Su

wonder, then, that the


itch, essentially a

final

scene

duplication of the

first,

si^iiiIk ant in tin

coming,

lor in
jai

ontcxt ol Morris's perform. inces,

Dm hamp

as

ulated onto the surfai e

faunf (19

>'

literally

did

when he

"painting'' l't\

ol Ins

pain, in whii h

is ol a

As such,

possible

is

and

to psy< hi'

when

the fantasy

least

ai

this final symbolit return

physii al equilibrium, as well as th<

purposeful, ideologii ally impai


ol S//i oi

ili

\ is"

'ill

oui ol

d bod) languagi

c<

cot sorting method of Art

suggest iiiuments

emergi

m Mm

its autistii

is s

<"/./

dani is u here tin bod)

whirl and into

kind

ol

groundedness.
i

an

mi

rg< ni

bodies thai find theii identities through

self

temporal

icpi

ii

n<

and struggli

plinths,
i
.

in tins

ulptun

and

th(

Beam

performative kind

"t

the

mid

.1

frustrating the visualization

disruption

2(1

ll'lllllll

ol

its

thn

dim<

ol

is

must be

viewer's preconceptions

known mentally

rendered

is

With

irrelevant by public experience.

inoperative, the

brute perception
hi'

or she

is

must

iewer

start

from the

order CO grasp the

in

sin h

ot

what

iewer's del entered relationship to

ol

profoundly on his or her

ts

selfhood as constituted within the

cxpcricnic, the engagement

aesthetic,

level ol

re. ilit\

seeing

these gestalts impai

through our bodies and our gestures

dependent on che other beings

these works

Ol

Fbi

to

"are full)

whom we make

them and on whose vision ol them we depend on to


make sense
In effet t, in these works, Morris is
undermining che myth ol che sell as coin. mud
whole, lor che viewer must now grasp his or her
ios nun in sp.u e through an exocentrit relationship
,i

with

iln

im

.is

it

Ultimately, the

world
"ci

,i

dependenci

lam kuu

ol

ill. ii

01

In
II

than as an

in

Mm

selfhood
I

ii

artist's altered gestalts

cognate

for this

naked

us mo\i mi ins and gestures


is,

Tins urn inn ni


i

of

intention and meaning upon che bod)

understood, thai

i.i

surfaces into the world in ever) external

p. ii Hi

\\(

form through

ir.uni.il gi m.iIis

what

accumulations of memory and knowledge made

Minimalist

Morris sought >" prolong and intensif) the

viewer's temporal experienci ofthi object


\,\

somewhat

as

n late to Ins

ol

The

their difference.

sc

[nasmui h as Morris's darn es depii

..

unity

ol

because their similarity must

suggest that the meanings we establish and express

person's emotional

and physical equilibrium are momentarily shattered


.ukI into a plat

And

as the same.

understanding

somewhere between pleasure and

a (pi

them

understood,

is

their positioning precludes seeing

ot

Moreover, the

disorientation ol scxinl desire and eX( itement


thai state, situated

one upended, one

be judged by standards that exist prior to actual

Morris symbolic ally emerged out of the

"

in positions relative to

logic ot the form's uniformity

the variability

set aside, tor

ol

ended with Morns pouring mercury down Rainer's


back
a metaphor tor ejaculation. This allusion
is

its side,

experience, the L-Beams are particularly challenging in

postvirginal point of no

the

were arranged

inverted. This displacement creates an optical illusion

While the

being stripped bare."" As Antin suggested, the dance

in

Minimalist dance, from immediately apprehending

were built around autobiographical cues and

self-referential gestures chat continually returned

sides of

affirming the impulse to see the shape as a cube

to negotiate the

As such,

severe claustrophobia.

two

order to question the

time that this gestalt was made even more visible by

object."

The

of tour identical cubic forms,

ones mind corresponds to the existential

They walk to the end of the track. Blackout.

was anathema

B..

arrangement

durability of the

projected. The three

is

barefoot actors stand on the rocks holding a thick rope.

example, in

oi

is

is s

,i

ol

the

sell

onl) inexperience."
sell

constituted

in

experience

prion, contained whole relates as

dances

a field ol a< civitj

where

neither stable nor ((instant but emerges in

both che performei and che

vii

wi

il

Fathers and Sons, 1955/1983. Painted Hydrocal and


ink

on paper, 33'/a x 51

inches (84.5

/s

130.5 cm). Collection

of the artist.

One must

Minimalist sculpture permits the spectator insight

operations.

into the self through the phenomenological experience

dances to find the kind of space that he suggested in

of visual dislocations, these disjunctions, as Morris

"Aligned with Nazca"

himself has observed,

involves a notion of selfhood as tied to an earlier,

still

function within the

atavistic stage in

stage where identity

dependent on an

is

and

its

psychological development, a

formed outside of mathematical

is

moment

Indeed, no psychological

and the viewer's perception of a degree of deviation


gestalts. Discussing

a visual and sensual field that

logic.

inherent contrast between culturally encoded forms

from these normative

human

context of mathematical logic; in other words, the


destabilization that permits the viewer to refigure his
or her relationship to the world

look, therefore, to Morris's

Minimalism

does the "mirror stage"

childhood development, according to the French

evolution into the later object-oriented art

psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan,

"Aligned with Nazca":

into being.

There

eight and eighteen

in

its

reliance on simple systems.

But

if that

u,

work was an

art of wholes with underlying, understated structures of

information, later object art became

which

visible,

together.

an art ofparts

underlined structures of information bound

Such work, while object-bound, moved toward

diminishing the density of the physical unit until a

first

is

when

months of age) when the

identifies

with an image of what

be an integral person.

If the

it

infant

looks like to

mirror stage

true source of the unified and authentic


it

comes

recognizes him- or herself in the mirror and hence

often

is

in

is

seen as the

self,

as

humanistic psychologies, then, Lacan

Not

argues, our selfhood can only be inauthentu

only does the illusion of integral selfhood originate

masking of an actual fragmentation [the


(it ,k InU <>t this

in the

illustrated the information structure.

disjunctive physical awkwardness

on Lacan's theory,

age]," writes Louis A. Sass

radical possibility, suggested by the artist, for a

self-identity

development (between

a period of

point was reached where physical manifestations merely

The

more than

that instance in

of the late 1960s and early 1970s, Morris wrote, in

Analysis as a strategy was present in earlier minimal u

appears to

parallel the sensibility of Morris's dances

by means of a certain alienation:

Beckettlike space of the self would not be possible in

selt is, after all,

such a limited, institutionally bound realm of logical

who

a mirrored

stands outside of the

tor the

image

at

self, like

.i

does so

it

sense of

distant

e.

.i

being

the other

MAHKIl

>

17

as a moi, not aye; selt-as-ob)cct rather than self-

(i.e.,

as-subject

But

alienation

it

most particularly

implied by the mirror stage,

is

in its earlier phases,

when

the

subject vacillates between an image of totalization and

one of fragmentation and disarray, the subject's

emergence into the realm


calls

or the "Symbolic," as

Lacan

implies an axis of linguistic self-identification

it,

that allows the child's nascent identity to emerge

two endpoints

In assessing
initial

assumption

forms the ego

or the

and the

itself,

for the point at

himself

to her- or

the

the gestalt that

is

subject's internalization

of this image and his setting

Lacan allows

mirror stage

tor the

image that

up of its social function


which the child can refer

sentence as the subject ("I") and

in a

not the object ("me"). In other words,

the ability

is

it

to utter this "I" that permits the child to see the self-

word

as-subject. Because the


I-Box

1962 (open

next speaker,

plywood cabinet covered with


Sculptmetal, containing photograph,

19 x 12

Punches

(48.3

3.5 cm). Collection Leo Castelli.

32.4

moment

lingering tor only a

view). Painted

[that]

if

this transpersonal

myself in
moi

is

one

that

can be

be taken over by

lets oneself

system that preexists and transcends

it

like

an object.""'

born

ironically

And

in the self-alienation of visual

him- or

after the subject loses

impersonal, larger system

ol

While Morris allows the

language,
subjects of his dances to

language (his

more

the Surrealists allowed the

It

subsumed by

the paradoxical freedom

inherent in giving oneself over to the flow of

system (becoming

wntmg,

automatic
\(

It

oi resistance

chough neither

losi

roi ./</

>">'~>>.

ol

desublimation, and R

1959),

Freud that advanc ed

ol

mental

underscored the

disempowered

id< :a

sell

// liln

I'nlt

ii
i.

idea
>t

chat

.i

Ii'.

It

(H

he psyt

would

illness,

onlj

disunified

incapable

of ./>/ illusory

man and

sin rtby

a mil.

giving

modern Western

ID

Marxian

ritique
politic s

ol

hi. urn

haw

selt

was also

,i

the kind of social

him

Of this weakness,

writes

s.iss

tin

was an

D. Laing's Tbt Divided Selj

agency that was important to

a< t,

ultund and sexual

<

liberator) approai h n>

treatment

"I."

Morris's reading of Marcuse's

of

nor an absolute

a definitive

ivilixation

of

example), Morns maintained

him, constituting the

for

a larger

the loops and skeins

in

tor

ideological gesture
/

on the

built

full) CO the

docs not permit his performances

linguistic realm), he

entirely to overtake In in
to be

ot

Duchamp was after all

Dadaist's ability to submit art

form only

herself in the

be taken over by the larger system


fascination with

losing

the

so, |ust as

reflection (the "Imaginary"), theje can take

subjet

identity myself in language, but only

"I

to the

a unified source of "casual efficacy

experienced only

one":

moving on

an effect or language

is

also a shifter,

is

can engender only a fleeting sense of

it

center and being


x

"I"

before

/</'

telfJotH rcomi
it

i/m

most

to

of tbt

//'<

division

h\ effacing both

aspirations

il><

/ tbt

tradition. Instead of being reconciled, <<//

and world simply disappear

into the middle term, the

Foucault has observed, that "caring for the self [can


constitute] a practice of freedom." Such a formation of

language-like structures that replace these supposedly

outmoded polarities. Thus freedom and self-expression are


given up since the volitional
to

be

an

illusion

truth

is

and individual self turns

the structures

the unity that

achieved

is

is

is

circumvent to an extent the systems of power and

domination that govern our

illusory, since there is no

world but what

since it

the subject, Foucault reasoned, allows the individual to

out

allow

to

appear; further

a unity devoid of vitality

not to overcome alienation but "to


in our alienated being.

make

ourselves at

and

to achieve a

While such a

a state of psychosis or autism.

self-

orientation has, throughout history, been denounced as

that of a mechanical rather than organic system.

And so the most that such a perspective could promise is

lives

degree of political agency that would be impossible in

home

" 43

a "kind of self love ... a kind of egoism or individual

one must

interest in contradiction to the care

show others

or to the necessary sacrifice of the self," 15

Foucault s ethos of freedom, while somewhat naive

To watch a schizophrenic person descend into an


abyss of delusions, paranoia, and self-destruction

is,

of

course, to witness a tragic dismantling of control,


a loss rendered

more perilous by

society's relentless

intolerance, even hatred, of the mentally

ill.

Laing, for

example, while advocating the concept of a liberated


self that blurs the restrictive

boundaries between

in its disavowal of the role of self-interest, rejects these

admonishments

as repressive

and

coercive. In the

oppressive world of selflessness, the subjectivity of the

individuated self must yield to broader social contracts

of truth; in effect, personal narratives surrender


to official texts.

These games of truth

the individual voice

empower

by

foreclosing

only the dominant

so-called normal and pathological behavior, also

culture that establishes the parameters of truth.

acknowledged that the Modernist romance with ego

By advancing

loss

was problematic

for

most human beings:

cannot take the realness, aliveness,

"If the individual

autonomy, and identity of himself and others

become absorbed

granted, then he has to

ways of trying to be

real,

for

in contriving

of keeping himself or

put

his self."

it,

power

to prevent himself [from] losing

returned to the disenfranchised


for a practice of the self as a

Duchamp's fracturing of subjectivity, he has always

to underestimate the political

been ambivalent about the aesthetic realization of a

if,

Even the

paths of Arizona and 21.3 avoided a limitless

autism; instead, they sporadically centered around

fragments of coherent speech, proper names, logical

and

specific personae, bits of information

some aesthetic,
meaning. The lucid

in his essay
literary

detriment, obsessed with the

its

"human

actions,

Foucault calls

Roland Barthes eloquently argued,

While Morris's desire to transcend the formalist


myth of organic completeness was commensurate with

self.

means of empowering the

"The Death of the Author" (1967), that


criticism was, to

hopelessly fractured or neutralized

it

individual subject.

14

elliptical

view of power

not evil, that

itself is

can be wrested away from the dominant culture and

others alive, of preserving his identity, in efforts, as he


will often

a wholly unpuritanical

in believing that

person" of the author. But Barthes's defense of

the textual over the "sway of the Author""' would seem

for

power of authorship:

example, the dense poetics of Mallarme suppress

the author in the interests of writing, they do so


invariably at the expense of politics
social voice in an

obfuscating the

opaque, albeit elegant, web of

metaphors and fractured meaning. In the formalist


criticism of the 1950s

and 1960s,

in

which the

that allowed the spectator to cull

exigencies of form, texture, and composition reigned,

psychological, and political

the

cow-sorting narrative in Arizona, for example, serves as


a provocative

backdrop

of useless tasks; this

for Morris's enaction of a series

list

of actual instructions for

"human person"

from the
for

text.

of the author was banished

Such formalist biases did not die

easily,

even the avant-garde of the 1960s continued to

be embarrassed by those cultural figures (most often

discharging a difficult job recapitulates the hierarchies

women and

of labor and production where workers follow, rather

"weakness," spoke the forbidden language of the

than give, instructions. In this context, Morris

self.

acts as an

empowered

ringleader (and, as in

all

of his

performances, a "principal dancer"): working outside of

people of color) who, in

moments of

Despite such proscriptions, from the

onward, Morris's own discourse as an

late

1950s

artist,

choreographer, and writer oscillated between

these repressive hierarchies, he functions at the center

the required anonymity of avant-gardist practice, the

of an aesthetic world controlled and manipulated

autism characteristic of a more transgressive

by him.

modernism, and reference

Morris's

fundamental refusal

to lose himself in his

throughout his

art, a refusal that

manifests

oeuvre

dances and conceptual self-portraits

from

his

itself

to the personal, the

individual, and the autobiographical.


1970s, in his writings at least, he
a fully

formed discourse of the

own

By the mid-

was able

to enter into

self that included

of the mid-1960s, to his diaristic writings of the 1970s

the narrative of his

and 1980s,

consistently invoked a powerful "I" that spoke ovei

father

is

to a recent

drawing of himself and

his

ideologically grounded, reminding us, as

life,

a discourse that

loudmouthed, bullying voices

Ik-

of critical authoritj

MAURICE BEROER 89

illuminating to end this discussion with I-Box

It is

box with
shape
naked and grinning cannot be
The work

(1962, no. 25).

of the letter

the

that conceals a photograph of

The

in I -Box not as absolute

self

read as a

its

in this essay

Ibid

taste, the act ot closing

drained vision

recalls Beckett's

often

is

more than

little

The work

self.

of the

a vacant

world, where

Ibid .p

i.

Ibid..

>

Morns

Morris himself

it is

Molloj or Malone

like Beckett's

who

such

In

continually retiring a fragile word that both breaks

6.

empowerment: "I
From the dance

"I"

would continually

resurface in Morris's work: the political activist

museum

work

who

invited the public into the

of American
lands* ape ol

in his

who

explorer

perception

.is

om

Lung. Tit

/'

Whitney Museum
monumental

Mm

don:

,l

fracturing ot identic]

MIT Press,

1989), pp

snowy landscape in Ins him Mirror (1969, no. 137); the


blind man. lost in a sell-imposed darkness, who losed

direct parallel

km.

,i

.>t

Below

wanted postet announces

Learning

no\.

<

between subversion

B4QI

Welch,

Known

how

revealing

wot Id

also undei

Dm lump

the me. nanisms

lueled In iht need to

.in

its

alias

chat draws a

them

in order to control

N anud from Lebel, or rrom

Duchamp's 1963

nIioin

.shop in \.

identity an.l criminality,

ol

ilitator,

identify things in the


ol

raced Bui k<

By constructing an imagi

..i

.iihI

unit

$2,000

\\

( >|><

domination, and manipulation

ol p.. veer,

for

One

GtOVI Press, 1959)

\ \.rk

n ,uh nuJc U

parod)

iIiin

name RROSI mi

che

tbt

Duihamp (New

York under name llooki

name and

he walked mirror in hand through a

Drama

CNewYork Viking

Dm lump

more on

Bull. alias Pickens etcetery, etceterj

.h ts .in

negotiated the complexities of vision and

boredom

Godot

wail tor

reward for information leading to the an

timbers, and steel, the

rete,

who

that hel|xd shape Morris's conceptualization ot a multivalent

hunp,

Art in 1970 as he installed a


<

selfhood was tin renin,

Conceptual projects of the early 1970s; the workman

who

it

pi

1,

Robert Lebel. M.ir

campaigned against the Vietnam War and the


institutional hierarchies of the

Century (Cambridge. M.inn

pieces on, this self-referential,

no contradictors 9

is

Rudolf Kuenzli, "Introduction

see

performatorv word the

197

on

Beckett, lor

180-N^

ua with

7. Pierre Cal

Press.

usscd this discomfort in "Notes on Dance." Tulant

disi

Retiru 6 (winter 1965), pp.

Modernist anonymity and proclaims

of

Morns

to live." See

Penguin. 1965), pp. 40-41.

the language of self-identity and potentially of

which there

way, the two tramps

stands at the center of his particular universe,

the rules

"With Sjnim!

health and validity to mitigate the despair, terror,

condemned

are

pp

I,

significant mriuenic

Til On...

in

early thinking about selfhood:

existence

ot

ns

self in its

But, as in the dance pieces that would follow,

l|

no. 2 (October

1,

subject in claustrophobic isolation.

its

Minn. Rcc Morton.

As R D. Lung wrote

5.

word, a coffin

instance, one enters a world in

that enshrouds

Man

Bruce Nauman. Joel Shapiro, and Phil Simkin See Robert Morris.

2.

and

acknowledge

icm Viro Acconci. Michael Asher. Alice Aw.sk,

"Aligned with Nj;.a, ' Artfortm

denies representation of a specific

also like to

not specifically discussed, the work ol several artists was used

to illustrate Morris

exposes an improbable self-portrait that challenges

it

divided self helped to

the

would

Chris Burden, Peter Campus, Marvin Lorrticld,

the

swinging of a door. While the act of opening the door

art-historical prohibitions

generous advice and

debt to the groundbreaking work of Rosalind Krauss and Annette

Though

1.

but as somewhat arbitrary,

articulation hinging on an external action

number of issues

for his

Duchamp and

Michclson.

spelled out

is

thank Mason Klein

like to

clarify a

my

Morris

conventional self-portrait.

would

criticism; his ideas un Marcel

a dtxjr in

recycled version as the postei

vn Museum,

retrospective at thi Pasadena

<

drew on paper with graphite and plan

his eyes,

and

later

s< r.iv.

led

.i

t<

who posed

of the drawing; thedominator

m
1

i.

helmet and ScVM drag

astelli exhibition;

nli.

in

rei

.i

<

nt

Whether naked
work

lothes in

the son

bottom
naked

halt

poster tor his 19

who

imp's joke

WANTED
most wanted men

stands next to Ins

known

in

Waterman

in
S//i

own

episodes Irom Ins

ret alls

brain surgeon

donning

Switch, or

Last

-in

similar antisot

lorse,

Morris,

activities in

lightl)

nifii

ant

at

sthi

and so

tii

ntering into the labyrinth


i

ial

sell.

Ifhood without diminishing

onfu lions within

thi

ti

mporal and

strovi

nil

work

represent

it

"i

<

ai

sell in

dam

e, th<

on< eptual

was permitted

sell

the mti istn

l><

lui

<

and unit] decenteredness and control,


tun and languagl

dam

(achieved w hat

itsell

to

fragmentation

abstrai

In this sense. Morris's


th<

work

add n

works

in

ontrasi to

ould (with the possibli

ki

pn.ni

19

th<

the

101 in.

.11

is

KOI

.in

as

dam

.1

iii

i0111i1l.11n.il

..1

on

ol

in iIiin sense,

in

failure to establish ide

i.ini

./

..

y,

and mid

for thi lubjeci

is

lologyofthi
I'h

concomitant

In

See

Mason

Marcel Duchamp's

s,ii

dissertation

it)

(<

niveriity ol

York, forth

Aii'iiii.

Michclson

li

Red

is

repi

on an Emblematii

Mich

.1

in

imj Baker Sandback (Ann

Critically

Arboi

hamp

a function of thi unconscious

adearl) bound referential

unpublished

In

is

aligned with Lacan's major thesis thai within

rowardsaPhei

Klein,

in ctx

subjectivity, thai l>n.

\\ orl

construction of space itself as an extens

ai

As Mason

equivocation thai occurs

specificall) thi

the sense of sell Ionn thai

nnin

lump,

in.

i.

UM1

Research Press

143-48

1984), p|
.

sell

and weight

delimiting and arbitrary

ol

his performancelike installations of the early

ot

On. lump, howevei

world according to convention attests to Iun

this inabilit) to establish referenci

New

in Ins

n.

1.

In

oeuvn

157, scar

aucobiographical allusions to Ins work

in <h<

Klein writes

tf.tim

on chest in pattern of 1 s Map


employmem .in cap darn er, pi time
known employmem in an air works Last contacted

vi 1I1.

naming thing*

complexities

its

defrauding garb

apitulation of thi linguistii sign as arbitrarj

Moms

earl)

of Ni

om

,etc.,

eti

<>l

onstrui tion

the

ol

appropriating

to hav Nought

thi

and .miNi

the spe< tator) in an age

artist (as well as

role ot tin

rolt

ial

description contained his propei name, height

well

Morris helped reshape the

Nt

nsed

Life

himself

handwritten diar) notation from the

..

man

lor

i.8,W1

III

collectors

'

foi

painting; the autobiographei who,

series ot essays,

,i

in a

oil,

lions at the

ol Ins ai

Old

MorriN had proposed

nil

li

.ills

ihisschiio

..nun.

III. II..

I'.

*\

Mirror. 1969.

Still

from 16

mm

black-and-white film.

Courtesy Castelli-Sonnabend Videotapes and Films.

MAUHII-I

on

Duchamp

Michel Carrouges, Lebel, and Jean Reboul. See,

as

example, Lebel, Marcel Duchamp,

MIT

,"

The

and the Russian

"Shifters, verbal categories,

Press, 1957); as

quoted

13. See Krauss,

"Notes on the Index, Pan

Rotary Spheres, in

the forms of rotation

and

Anemic Cinema

being considered as

therapeutic device to be

David Antin. "Art

of natural laws into highly artificial

and controlled codes,

the disdain of community, the extreme interest in scientific

of the autistic economy

and speculative

so

remarkably converted by him

Adam and Fu

who

lived

Bruno Bettclhcim, The Empty Fortran

description of the case, see

the Birth of the Self (New

Autism and

New

York, where the

Two

Another work

pharmacy

bottles,

one

red, the other green, are depicted,

ptoxy

sec

more on Morris's development

see

as

Labynmhi: Robert Morrn, Minimalism, and tit I960i

rger,

26-28,49,81-105

York: Harper and Row, 1989), pp.

Dana

ludson

Yvonne

18. See

Tendem

A Quasi Survey

Rainer,

Plethora, or an Analysis ol Trio A.

Anth

Battcock

Some

'Minimalist

Minimal

in

Art:

Critical

(New York: Dutton

this

ml >l

d himsell

in

'Expli

..i

irthworki

snd

traditional

Hoi

desi ription ol Ins role in

si it

silt

'atorman

referential, sell ...us. ious,

Does that ring a

'

Sti

..

and corporeally

Maybe

hob up hen

think we should get Bod\

numbet che'Heroii

ulptun

s,

Well

bell, Ignatz?

V. itch, greased up, bare

ball Itoni H
tr.u

onvt rsely affirms the

ks

(Morris, 'Robert Morris

ol eat

\ i-.ii.il

rhis situational

strength

poU bedron,

li

the

ol chi

will

us irregularity

early dis< ussion ol the phenomenological

For an important

and

ube, only

Bamv.sei Krauss, Passagu in

name* to a

(Whili a

it

was built on an

I'Ai

as thi

in.

den

wen soon
igt rn

..im
i

is

ol

latei realizing

\lodtrn

ol

the

Sculptm (New York Viking,

re

'I

<Ui

in

kind

and white-collar laboi Pol

iisiiii

re

on

thi

in.. o

\\ uii

ol hai

t-m

.1

yi

Nazi

was

often

PAG,

I,

has,

over the past quarter century,

intellei cual

support on whit h co hang

of arguments about selfhood and culture,

than wan. unci

Morris himsell has been

and meaning, chroughoui hiscareei


in ins

.ii'.

dii

1961 (no

10)

work

from

thi

ias.

its

application here

maud

with

\i...

thi

Leo Cascelli Gallery in March

essay co a

small catalogui on

works, Morris mentions Lacan directly

Lacan ha

mirroi has appeared

mirroi lin

and \Mrrorody asarol 1965 (no 66) to an elaborate

installation of skewed mirrors at thi

psyi hoai
..

mirror stagi

Indeed, in his introd

hum

hi

Alignt
il"

nntiois. and tin relationship of the reflected Lmagi co thi formation ol

oi

luggi so

it ii.l.

identity

itoi ol

,ii

blue

..ill

i.

Alternari

mom
.i.i.

v. lull

explicit equation

berwei n laboi
i

18

othei artists to add

'I

I'Ai

tht

..i

Ibid

mill

is

number of artists n

iki

proji

Speeches

inviti

'

woi!

nts

an

mploymi
Art

(6

Moms.

Morris

19

Demonstrations''

possil
ici [ji

ee

1'

l.i

Politii

Novembei

is >

...

\.irrjint in

>

,otk shosken.

as a

n lationship in in advertising campaign

imber ofart

Imsi

few

in sexual desire,
'.

their

Forms

/>.

pi

22 Morn

chi

behind, to serve

leti

imperatives ol Minimalisi sculpture, and most partit ulat U

It,

c<

em

toni

iid

21

iVu

Despite the altered side

270.

|.

port rait ot

ontinuc co read ns lorni

19 Ibid

im

gestali

Minimal Dana Activity Midst the

the Quantitatively

ies in

ol

nudity

and overweight, inching down the

status

[983)

sclt-

ol

eja< illation

IxkU lUnds (including semen),

plus to Rogei Denson," p


Morris, as quoted in Berger, Labyrinths, p 53

id

Banes, Democracy'^ Rudy Judsun Dance Theater, 1962-64 (Durham, N.C.:

1993

rei

wouldn't be that meat

assed

Theacer, see Sally

andalous

S s,

chey have his


it

ol

"excreted," literally

is

existem

and Modern Cnltw,

Assyrian Art

grounded

a dancer and choreoj rapher,

Dui lump

essentia IK s

J),

with Unties

particularly celling in us

spiraling reduplication of red and green forms

supposedly prurient use

more on the condition of disequilibrium

32. Morris's

infinite,

irs

Leo Bersani and llvsse Dutoit,

pp. 2

up an

human

lor

devices tor rotation goes beyond the formal: by juxtaposing the images
sets

its

no

Kis.

sublet

one on each side of the glass plate The comparison to Duchamp's

on the glass plate between the mirrors, Morris

l
i

Morris, nanus

31. For

between two circular

bourgeois

ol

newspapers attacked

local

of the period also relates CO

painting: Portrait

as

1967), pp. 233-339.

mirrors.

over Adam's genitalia.

fig leal

it

permitting that which

York: Free Press, 1972;

15. Morris's construction interposes a glass place

tableau vivani ol Lucas

Referring to a documentar] photograph

repression. This intention clearly succeeded given the dance

JO.

years at the Orthogenic School in Chicago. For a detailed

Morns.

Paint. Robert

was. This exchange suggests that Morris's use of nudity in U .Herman

run in Buffalo,

p. 145).

Bettelheim's description of Joey, a severely autistic child

Infantile

7,

Duchamp and Brqgna

in Francis Picabia's

the "sensational attraction" for

some

the failure

Duchamp if the camouflage was present in the at tual


Duchamp answered that was not. though it probably

Morris asked

Mit nelson's categories of autistic behavior arc taken from

for

Gray

Switch was meant to attack the no rmalising mis. nanisms

to the

thought (Michelson, "Anemic Cinema: Reflections

on an Emblematic Work,"

Information,

of the ballet RilJ.it (1924),

at is

performance

enchantment with the psuedo-science of paraphystcs, represent only

strategies

of art

comment about

his

rhat indicated the discreel placement ot a

the subversion of

measure, the constant movement between alternatives [that] supported his esprit

uses

&

Perlmuttcr appeared nude


Cranach's

used in the restoration of Vision), the elaborate linguistic play, the recasting

a few

179; Bcfgcf.

p.

Art Sewi 63, no. 8 (April 1966), p. 58.

29 Between

motion, the insistence upon the usefulness of objects (exemplified in his joy at

discovery, the

made

Morris

MS

1994), pp. 287

"Notes on Dance,

see Morris.

of Check in a telephone conversation with the author on Decembct

28.

dc contradiction,

MIT Press,

(Cimbr dgt .Mass

more on Check,

27. For

77* Vritings

1992.

persistent interest in

the possibility of

22,

That

Is

Paragone')" in Continuous Project Altered Dally

Labyrinths, p. 102, note

197.

Michelson writes:

Duchamp's

My

in

of Robert Morris

in ibid., p. 197.
1," p.

Denson (Or

Morris, "Robert Morris Replies to Roger

Mouse

verb," Russian Language Project (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University

14.

New York, October

with the authot.

in conversation

25. Ibid.

196-206.

Press, 1986), pp.

Roman Jakobson,

12.

Morns,

Atanl-Garde and Other Modernist Myths (Cambridge,

Originality of the

Mass

1992.

Sec Rosalind E Krauss, "Notes on the Index, Part

1 1

for

p. 30.

in hii

opat

|ui

way

Ins

'Recently chi French

point)

.1

to tin

infani

experienci with thi mirror as essential to the construction of selfhood

See Roiert Morris

M/rrw Works (New York Leo< utelli Gallery,

ii.

irro

AnOri

'

!< volution iry


;

Ufinilnnly

ridge, Mass.:

Louis

H
'nfini

MIT Pn

11
i

Ml ROBI

ii

MOI

iii<

Sass,

Sell

Jytit

to

Its Vicissitudes

mi Gardi

Sociat

An
'-'

'Archaeological

no

(wintei 198
i

Study of thi

|ui

i
i

in,

iiur.

Alan Sheridan (Ne% York

No

i,

1977); as quoted in ibid., p. 601.


41. For insightful discussions of the "mirror stage," see Sass,
Self

and

Its Vicissitudes,"

"The

pp. 597-609; and Fredric Jameson,

"Imaginary and Symbolic

in

Lacan," Yale French Studies, nos.

5556

(1977), pp. 338-95.

more on Morris's

42. For

intensive reading of these authors and his

notion of activism and political agency, see Berger, Labyrinths,


pp. 47-79, 129-62. Perhaps Morris's greatest political effort was his

involvement

in

War

anti-Vietnam

1970s. For more on the

New York

protests in

in the early

activism, see ibid., pp. 10727.

artist's social

43. Sass, "The Self and Its Vicissitudes," pp. 604-05.


44. Laing, The Divided Self, pp. A2-A5.

"The Ethic and Care of the Self as

45. See Michel Foucault,

Freedom,"

Rasmussen,
p.

46. Roland Barthes,

MIT

D. Gautier (Cambridge, Mass.:

trans. J.

11.1 would like to thank Morris for directing

trans.

a Practice of

The Final Foucault, eds. James Bernauer and David

in

"The Death of the Author,"

(New

Stephen Heath

me

in Image/Music/Text

Wang,

York: Hill and

47. Morris's autobiographical position reached

Press, 1988),

to this text.

1977), pp. 142-48.

apex in the recently

its

published essay "Three Folds in the Fabric and Four Autobiographical


Asides as Allegories (or Interruptions)'' (Art in America 11 [November
1989], pp. 142-51).

The

essay openly juxtaposes a critical text

concerning the relation between

art

and

discourses with a series of

its

autobiographical "asides," stories from the

from

his

childhood fascination with Egyptian

Duchamp and

encounters with

Barnett

past," he writes in relation to the

dominate the

own

arrist's

Newman. "Today,

economic

avanciousness

may be

art

works.

And

ranging

just as in the

interests that pervade

a time of such heightened

time when those other supporting narratives

of art need to be examined"

Rigorously exploring three

(p. 143).

paradigmatic (and for the most part preeminent) approaches to


the twentieth century

psychological

art in

the formalistic, the political, and the

intellectual

more than

serve as

Morris's text repeatedly returns to the private, primal

own

scenes of his

and

commercial ones

art world, "there are stories besides the

which bear on legitimizing

life,

more recent

art to

and aesthetic development. These asides

interruptions; they resound with Morris's frustration,

even disillusionment, with the institutionalized language of cultural


discourse.

48. In the radical psychiatry of Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, the
schizophrenic's refusal to speak in the

first

person

romanticized as a

is

kind of surrealistic rebellion against the repressive order of language:

who

"There are those of us

word

uttering the
this

/,

will maintain that the schizo

and that we must restore

is

his ability to

incapable of

pronounce

hallowed word. All of this the schizo sums up by saying: they're

fucking

me

word again;

over again.
it's

third person instead,

And

it

make one

won't

statement

is

if

won't say

damned

just too
I

happen

anymore,

I'll

never utter the

stupid. Everytime
to

remember

bit of difference

"

hear

to. If it

it, I'll

use the

amuses them.

The quotation from

their

taken from Samuel Beckett's The Vnnamable (1952), a work

that, in a certain sense, refutes their basic premise.

As

in

most of

Beckett's writings, the voice that speaks often utters this illusive "I"
in

an

effort to find, albeit

momentarily,

a center for

enacting various

gestures of self-protection. See Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari,


Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism

and Schizophrenia,

trans.

Robert Hurley, Mark

Seem, and Helen Lane (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press,


1983), p. 23.

MAUKICK

HKllliVH 3 3

HAVE MIND, WILL TRAVEL

David Ant in

Enthusiastic for the Ratio. 1989. Encaustic on aluminum,

47

76

'

At the end

inches (121.6

exhibition with the rather melodramatii

Deny

thi

rid Th(

drawing and appeared tocovi

title Inability

paintin

in

Ins

whole

em

letting for his recent

aluminum
hall ol

shows of well known

artists

hibition with

Smiih

thai laisc

hough)

"i

Mbn is

nil-, oi

,i

notion

In

i.

ol

major

savagi

ii*

as an ai
..i

in

'

to

with respei
a

question

tin

Mbn

nu

Times Arts and Leisure

York

which usually responds

tion,

ol
.

isi

ill

authi

.,o .1

In

.H

originality,

.iii

harged thai

<

foi

thin\ years he had echoed "ideas and motifs deftlj


I

from

whethi

hi

i'i.ip |y

The

34

work of other an

thi

had

and

New

vi

on\

ai

and

|u< si

to laugh,

telling

mc thai

from

haim Soutini

<

n n n inln red anoi

Is

Ik

because

artists

worth

soon

as
.in

gol

.in

ichibition ai

and

fantasy,
s.

In

.is

ii.ii

in

.is

.i

<

Moi
h

I.

iw

in ni

mow

ii ii

ii

.ii

my

on hi hardly ihmk

someone

Smith review,

thi
ai

the beginning

beach with a well known

thi

astelli's,

had

had stolen everything

Bui reading

idea,

an dealer

At the timi

w.is like

It

Kelly

remembei dn
si ill

occasion ba< k

hadn'i

is

bitterly thai

almost

would

"II

seemed
imii

i.i

win

rip

iii

funny Sol

like a

up an

il

lb

elaborati

took to be a temporary

Id p. ii .nu

ii.

hieved mui h an thai was


nglj

ists

was

Im.it ion

thai Morris

Beuys

<

tomaniai and,
ion,

nu

told

young sculptoi who omplained

.ilw.i\s

iis.ii

room

Living

of the 1970s, walking on

and

ntii ity
I

kle|

i<

by Roberta

mj

years ago a verj intelligeni

oi

two more dissimilar

ol

museum

tful reviews,

ai tai

sitting in

though

att ni ion to thi

couple

an world gossip

like this before,

stolen every) hing from Joseph

On January

works on display

theSunda) Seu

20,

on

austii

it

paintings, whii h accounted for nearly

tli-

omments

who

Moreover, whai

art-world scold

official

she said hears a certain relation to

paid mui h

and

mints as the

had heard

areer, bui

bui Smith ism Hilton Kramer,

in criticism,
i

xhibition was

work

to Morris's

|j

of the artist.

Corcoran Museum of Art in


opened a massive Robert Morns

L990

oi

Washington, D.C

194.9 cm). Collection

hi-,

All

IK distinguished

\tui

a dou

hatu

a in

.i

in tin i\

(iii/zi

book, notan

///i

with
.,'

./

great idea, You unit

'gipi // / i"/^

lau u

r,

a safe-deposit box with

who with two

witnesses places

one key that

placed in the hands of a neutral trustee

is

who has no idea what bank


hang out

in

the box

Then you just go

is in.

wind up

him about your great

telling

when he puts on

you can't keep your mouth

show at

the

Ad Reinhardt owns

squares.

relation of

and

come

quite different person from someone

Conceptual piece.

Russell terrier.

trustee,

knew

the whole plan, even in fantasy, was

fundamentally flawed.
set

up

knew

that

if

like

charade and shot

this elaborate

off his

mouth

would have kept him from shooting

plan was never tested, and like most gossip of

supported or refuted.

world

of the art

nor blow away.

like a

And

just sits out there at the

It

because

anything about
I

beliefs

was

another

just

whole cluster

This

So Smith

not surprising.

is

what kind of

can't tell

is.

The notion

of persistence

has always been important for art criticism. That's


is

the understanding that

if

an

artist

works can be read as a

series of related actions that

one of the fundamental suppositions of traditional


history

it is

that

all

of an

artist's

works

of Time, to lay out

all

And

proposal, in Tin Shapt

the artifacts of a culture in

temporal order to obtain an

it.)

art

laid out in

not a great step beyond that to George Kubler's

somewhat more archaeological

the assumption that an artist can

establish a kind of proprietary right to an idea. (You

an idea unless somebody already owns

temporal order form a kind of artistic biography.

context of Morris's major retrospective at the

can't steal

earthworks,

art,

unite to form a trajectory of intention. This has been

of

Guggenheim.
is

a lot of dogs.

because there

and that these were worth discussing

First there

art.

Neo-Dada, Minimalism,

does related things in work after work, the sequence of

never thought of doing

resurfaced in Smith's review,

it

was

owned

edge

about contemporary art that Morris's work

collides with,
in the

until

it

realized there

it

Morris's "inauthenticity."

process art and installation art." Morris has apparently

dog owner he

gray cloud that will neither rain

piece of art-world weather,

when

kind,

its

vehement opinion has neither been

the sculptor's

clearly a

who owns a Jack

"Since the 1960s Morris' art has mirrored nearly

Conceptualism, and performance

my

So

it.

is

its

a little

absence of persistence that Smith

in this

main symptom of

He's been associated with

mouth

his

off about his even better idea for protecting

it is

owner

is

every twist and turn in American contemporary

about his great idea, nothing in the world

to Morris

A Doberman

having a dog.

finds the

the sculptor had

to be

owner. In this sense having an idea

artist

Now
But

this

defined by the idea he or she owns, and the idea by

and you let the editors open the safe-deposit


box with the dated and notarized page from your notebook,
and you claim Robert and the whole show as your

your

And

ownership eventually becomes mutually

self-defining. So that an artist will

witnesses,

owns

black. Christo

wrappers. Jeff Koons owns sleaze kitsch.

shut,

idea. Then,

Artforum magazine with your lawyer, your

through persistent employment. Josef Albers

owns

you appear at

Castelli's.

Wright brothers, and the U.S. Patent Office. In


ownership right is more often established

practice, this

your usual way. Sooner or later you '11 run

into Robert, and, because


you'll

in

it

artistic

biography of the

This proprietary right obviously also depends on

culture.

the assumption that artists have ideas and that their

sequence should count

work embodies them.

(If

can steal them, and

they don't show up in your

some twenty years of


making nonhgurative process paintings, Philip Guston
opened a large exhibition at the Marlborough Gallery,

work no

artist will

if

you don't have ideas nobody

think to steal them.) But

how do

you acquire the proprietary right to an idea?


This

is

where primacy comes

held belief that being the

you property rights to


the gold-rush model:
else,

we

This

you can stake out a claim.

will recognize

it.

But

little

hard to do. Even

Who

poured

first.''

Mark Rothko? But

There

is

in

a loosely

one to have an idea gives

what we might call


you get there before anybody

it.
if

first

in.

you can prove

in a global art

in a

small one

it's

Every

who

critic

it

dealt with the

is

not so easy.

show

went beyond

figures.

ailed

upon

that. In order to approvi ol


i

ii

Guston's artistu identity up to the


exhibition:

Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Edison, the

new work, sympathetic nt s had to find an


aspect of this new series of paintings that would
connect them to the process paintings that had defined

in spite of the difficulty of proof,

and

tilt

apparent break in Guston's car

the

the notion of primacy remains, sustained, at least in

of

York, with thirty-three paintings ami eight

Helen Frankenthaler' Morris Louis?

principle, by analogy with invention or discovery,

memories

New

for a great deal.

after

drawings populated by hooded cartoonlike

For some,

it,

world this

October 1970,

to explain this

is

If

In

In such biographies apparent breaks in the

ourse

in

le

took three lessons

artooning

<.\.i\

in a

ot the

new

orn spondi

when he was umIm

Hed

always

admired Barnej Google and Kra/v Kai lie used


in do arii atures ol Ins artist iru iuK Th< dark, Not
i

k\

oi

Henry Ford, founded

the

and behavior), could

as

was on the invention of

it

Model-T (and publicized accounts of his opinions


reliably be

invoked to justify

adaptations in the Model-A and subsequent economy

:<

models but got progressively harder

compan) began

to reconcile as the

produce the more upscale Mercury

to

and then the positively luxurious Lincoln Continental,


Split personalities or multiple identities are not favored

world either. The positive reception of

in the art

Guston's new figurative work required an account

ol a

between two kinds of


draw mi: before the cartoon style won out. Only after
two-year struggle

tor his soul

the account of his struggles had been circulated was


1963 Lead over wood,

Litanies.

twenty-seven keys, and brass lock, 12


(30.5

Museum

18.1 x 6.4 cm). The

7-

acceptable tor
inches

Modern

of

New

Art,

York,

Johnson.

Gift of Philip

Leave Key on Hook 1963.

Key, lock, and patinated bronze box.

13x7

19.1 x 8.9 cm). Private collection.

plywood

(see pp.

a square,

sectioned

(1962, no.

[is

hes

a lyrii

biographii

cit

al,

culmination

.il

recuperative criticism

L978

in a

Art in

arti< le in

America by Smith. 'When you take Guston's career

new Gustons

as a whole," she assures us. "the

haphazard and questionable array

she triumphant!)
a certain voi

On

into

i.

thl

authl

ntii

harai

ti

to

adapt to

for iiarrar

istenci

Pei

mly

.is

,i

appan

Ik

icy

their

"| >

hi

thi n bei

ii

ti

thi

world

art

artist's
ol

in

whii h

and Morris an made,

d tends to requin

rsonalit

artists' asso

omi

his

is

.in

iati

hai artists

dedui ed from

and support!

a kind ol warrant)

works. 1

thrift

in chi

an world system

con,

.i.iiii

automobil

and ingenuii

foi

w hat

lust ry, in

hii

ited with thi

all

rs

pro

thi
idi

futun

like the early

molds

some

oi sin h objects,

machine parts

or

machine- parts, others bearing traces

oi

thi

Yanl

pi rsonalit]

ol

as

mysterious or threatening memories

probably dangerous events


or almost

come

to

anyone w ho had

world

of

New York

in

the time-, his

Exhibition at the

ultural

as an assurani

valuati

low

suggestions

s(

both shows, the

<

1961
(

oi

work

areer break. Hut Morris's


still

So

He had only
New York art

quite short.
for the

areer was barely tour years old.

Green Gallery, New York, December 1964-

January 1965. Left to

ores

[aiming

pro<

partii ulai

Gu

gl

or

critics

works and whatevei supporting information

and

and

onsisti ni

pop

also

it

The

works of Beuj
iuti

an publii

h fun tions

ni

it,

uision had

though minor, mandarin

Othei

mark,

cradi

rty n^his,

authentii

.u\<\

i\<

consequence of his personalit) and

art that w-.is a direct


.

tS,

public career was, in fact,

ontinuous

other hand, hos till

th<

b>(>

to gel

lif<

uner used ihe break tO argUI thai

ndoni d

work.

ruston has had

consideration, but has taken his wholi

them

static gra) relicts,

small objet

might havi counted as a

in his

arrangements under

oi

orner Piect

discrepancy in style between the two bodies

thematic,

ol

"<

oro ludes thai

abular)

edge; Cloud

Leads (1964, nos 78 85)

somewhat

it

and psychological recurrences

an elevated square slab;

12),

Beam,

.'

embedded with

oi

areas oi Ins previous

development." Compiling an extensive

hnii al,

L964, no. 64), a corner wedge; and Boiler

and motions

tei

earlier ac nous, invoking arrested or potential functions

ma) at firsi seem: they're a surprisingly


onsistent summation. In them Guston seems to have
revisited all his past successes and failures, tout hing
all

oi large,

among them.
beam with one rounded

17071)

electrodes, batteries, and other

aren't the

betrayal they

base again and again with

an installation

boiler-sized cylinder. The other featured the enigmatic

palette remains the same, ed

Tins kind
rea<

One was

with each other.

freestanding, elementary forms oi uniformly painted

shapes in his later nonfigurative works suggest objects


I

common

that appeared to have virtually nothing in

nches (33

it

him to say. "I wanted to tell stories


Now, in December 196-4 and March 1965, Morris
had two exhibitions at the Green Gallery in New York

steel key ring,

right,

clockwise: Table, Corner Beam,

Corner Piece, Cloud, and Floor Beam.

and

most members of this world,

for

shorter than that, since his

first

Green Gallery hadn't occurred

it

was probably

solo exhibition at the

1963-

till

Still,

had already staked out a place with works

number

(1963, no. 21) and a


objects like

Box with

the

Morris

like Litanies

of other paradoxical

Sound of Its Own Making

It was a place
what most critics were then calling neo-Dada,
which meant that they read his work as taking account
of Marcel Duchamp's readymades and Jasper Johns's
gray paintings from a position at some distance from,
but somewhere alongside, Fluxus's absurd objects.
The large, geometric sculpture in the "white
show,"* on the other hand, seemed to declare itself as

(1961, no. 11) and 1-Box (1962, no. 25).


in

altogether different, situating Morris

among

sculptors

Andre, Dan Flavin, Donald Judd, and Sol

like Carl

LeWitt. Morris reinforced his claims to this position


with his

own

critical writing, the

two-part "Notes on

Sculpture" that he published in Artforum in 1966. 9

These precise and polemical essays engage with

all or

the basic theoretical issues raised by the Mimimalist

him alongside Judd

sculptors and established

major spokesman

as a

group; their republication in

for the

1968 in Gregory Battcock's widely read anthology

Minima/ Art consolidated

his reputation for a

more

popular audience as a leading theoretician of this

Donald Judd. Untitled, 1968. Galvanized

elementary, object-oriented sculpture just at the time

each 6

that he

was beginning

Morris's "Notes

abandon

to

27

24 inches (15.2

New

Castelli Gallery,

68.6

York.

it.

on Sculpture" explicitly rejected

the self-referential and enigmatic objects had been

for him
seemed

based: "The relief has always been accepted as a

suggested an idea of development.

nearly all of the ideas

viable

upon which the

mode. However

it

lead reliefs

and

cannot be accepted today as

The autonomous and literal nature of


demands that it have its own, equally literal

legitimate.

sculpture

space

not a surface shared with painting."

"

This

Morris's claim to be chef d'e'cole of the


it

new object

goes on to reject intimate scale and

to

precise, intellectual,

make

his

And

world the opportunity to consider

it

that

He had come

art

as a Minimalist.

intelligible. It

own

offered the
all of

into

New

York

the

absurdist or paradox pieces as "early works," in spite

no one was

really in a position to

establish the chronological order of the conception

many

or fabrication of
all

and humorless

1960s career

his

of the fact that

polemical and deliberately pedantic essay stakes out

sculpture as

boxes,

iron, ten

61 cm). Courtesy Leo

of them. In fact, during

much

of the period between 1961 and 1967, there was

internal relation of parts, including incident,

considerable overlap between what seem to be two

configuration, texture, and color.

different

It

also proceeds to

separate his work from that of Ronald Bladen and

working

logics,

though

may be

it

truer to say

that while paradox remained a working element in

Kenneth Snelson, and from some of the works of

nearly all of Morris's successful sculptural projects,

Andre and Judd, by

simply ceased to be foregrounded.

rejecting both

monumentality and

conspicuously displayed mathematical, logical, or


technological ordering systems in favor of the simple

polyhedrons and more or

less

human

scale of the

instantly knowable, uniform, and obdurate shapes in


Morris's second

Since Morris's neo-Dada works

articles

Minimalist pieces, works as

elevated inches above the floor or a plywood pyramid

wedged

(first

aired in 1963)
significant

into a room's corner,

whose

color

it

nearl)

had not been published about them

in the art

them had not


they never became

cubes with mirrored faces become nearly m\ imNi


turning into

floor.

Ring with Light

<

divided

been widely circulated

at the

and emits

in halt

two

cuts.

light

But while many

pm es

mark out

never mentioned in the writing So

writing very quickly established a Minimalist persona

hand,

it

is

is

.ire

marked

delivered deadpan and

by this sleight

of

66, no

trom an unseen SOUTH

established as his trademark and, consequently, didn't


a distinct public personality. Moreover, his

1965

a circular fiberglass ring eight feet in diameter,

journals, photographic reproductions of

clearly

apparently neutral as plywood slabs invisibly

matches, become absurd through displacement Simple

Green Gallery show.

had not had a very long public career

Even the most

it

it

is

never becomes

part of the persona.

HAVID ANTIN 37

By 196 7 Morris
,

closed object to the

works

is already moving away from the


more open pieces the felt

example. Stacked and Folded [1967, no. 92]

(tor

and Tangle [1967,

93])and,

no.

by 1968, their

weak "formal"

apparently strong material and

properties are beirn; exaggerated in the truly formless

where hard and

scatter pieces,

soft,

is*.ous

spread on the pristine gallery or warehouse


In an appropriately polemical fashion

arguments

a set of

"Ami Form" and

and

and fabricated, are heaped

triable materials, natural

he

or

floor.

lays out

1968 Artforun article

tor this in his

1969 curates ^ in a Warehouse^

in

an exhibition or work by nine artists relating to


rhis idea ar the

Leo CastelU Warehouse

The

is

exhibition

Artforum
Corner Piece, 1964. Painted plywood, 78

108 inches

New

in

York.

accompanied by another
"Notes on Sculpture, Part IV: Beyond

article,

Objects
Question:

(198.1 x 274.3 cm).

really.

The hard-edged
in

change?

this a career

Is

Answer: Not

work

object

is

given

its

rationale

terms of a kind ot abstract, audience-oriented

psychology

the perceptual adventures

unoccupied individual

The newer work appears

ot

an otherwise

an otherwise empty space.

in

evoke the relationship

to

of

the maker, rather than the viewer, to the different


properties ot

varied materials

its

those

powder, and pools

piles of

ot

and hard,

soft

sharp and brittle scraps and shards, snarls

of fiber,

gunk, Vet both

types of work remain equally abstract arrangements,

and the anti-rorm pieces derive their perceptual


aesthetic ism not only from their contrasts with each
orher, but from their contrast with the architectural

Mirrored Cubes. 1971 refabrication

1965

of a

original.

Plexiglas mirrors on wood, four units, each 21 x 21 x 21 inches

(53.3

53.3

53.3 cm).

elements

the spat es in whit h they're arranged.

ot

by the 1980s, Morris himself would characterize these


works as a straightforward continuation of the
abstrat

i,

Modernist impulses

demythologized, made

ol

literal,

\.u

kson Pollot

k.

and typically bound

to

simple mechanical operations chat determine their


final

an ati.u k on

form

And

appearance.

Notes on

and

the

work

ot

promise an

Si

while the

"Ann Form"

tat

lonahst

that results

art that "lias

whit h need not arrive

it

notion that

m a finished
m its hands

at a

same

the

tat ionalisi

cm

Morris's

>

work

is

as

mutable

Stufl

point ot being finalized

cheargumem

is

abstrat tart sp.ue as the earlier

essays and speaks in the


is,

art

product" and

with respect to either time or space,"


placed

essa\

tilptnre. Part IV" present this

same assuicd Minimalist

(that

voi< e

Conceptual works

of

the 1970s appear to

straightforward continuation and extension

ol

the ideas articulated in connection with the anti form

wotks The essaj


Ring with Light

'glass and fluorescent

191

intensified
ties (61

(35.6

<

iti

cm)

high,

urn

hlng grai

of

An, General

is |it

is|

hut

in

National

>

liol"

them
\\

averj simple

>

places an

hatevei else

at

ii

Mm

is

level

was

broadens the context

ol

an

making

ot this

making from the phenomenologii al to the sot ial


nun \t of laboi ami produi cion: "What wish to

38

that introduces

emphasis on process

16 4 (.m)

ml

"

light,

point

Untitled, 1968.
overall

Felt,

rubber, zinc, aluminum, nickel, steel

dimensions variable. Collection

out here

is

of the artist.

that the entire enterprise of art

making

THE PERIPATETIC ARTISTS GUILD

provides the ground for founding the limits and


possibilities of certain

behavior of production

become

so

kinds of behavior and that this


itself is distinct

expanded and

visible that

it

ROBERT MORRIS

has extended

the entire profile of art." 15

These were the

Available for Commissions Anywhere in the World

political 1970s, the

Nixon

government was continuously expanding the Vietnam


War, and many not especially
were

finally

beginning

and announces

and has

offering to undertake

political artists

to question their relation to the

cultural institutions of the gallery

and the museum,

which despite their support seemed

EVENTS FOR

XPLOSIONS

CHEMICAL SWAMPS

M(iM

Till

SOUNDS FORTHE VARYING W

to function

QUARTER HORSE-

MENTS

SPEECHES
iLTERN

iSONS

DESIGN

\ll

AND

primarily as the legitimators of a brutal, technocratic

POLITICAL SYSTEMS

nil if, is

imperialism. Accordingly, a political tone begins to

ENCOURACI

color Morris's writing.

OTHER VAGUELY

MUTATED FORMS OF LIFE AND


ULTURAL PHENOMENA, SUCH \S
EARTHV ORKSDl MONSTR WONS

This political stance shows up characteristically


a

November 1970 "advertisement" by Morris

appeared in several art magazines. In an


typical of

its

in

that

elliptical style

commercial models, here strongly

ironized by hyperbole and comic juxtaposition, the ad

presents

\ll

DISCIPLINED
PRl STIGIOI

\l ol

111

"i.ii

{GRIi
I

THEATRli U PROJBt

AND STATU

FILMS

POR HOME, EST

is

TS

OR Ml

SEl

V)

FOUNTAINS IN LIQUID METALS

\w UBLl SOP CI R101 SOI


TRAVELING M HIGH SPEEDS

VTE,

FOR nil MASS!

i" HI

SEES U

NAimwi

llll

PARKS VND

ID A N T N 3 9
I

ING GARDENS

PTURAL

ARTISTIC DIVERSIONS OF RIVERS

It

the

seems too short, the

list

"the above

PROJi

the artist

At

modern expansion of

glance, the ad reads like a

first

or too

Leonardo's letter to Ludovico Sforza:

is

have plans for bridges very

defeat the enemy.

Also

kmd

mortars,

and light ordnana

shapes.

lay,

Also

humor, ridicule or

may

be necessary to pass

can maki cannons,

and useful

very beautiful

oj

Ipturt in marble, bronze

and also painting

Won

undertake the work of the bronze

uld

and eternal honor

swiveling wind thai blows

of the projects listed in the

all

ad are only mildly disguised characterizations

works

of

Morris had already done, proposed, or would have

And

less,

always

us anticipated course

Leonardo was the

MENTS"

"<

W't -mer

mk

hi

wlm

von Braun of his day.

ottering to function and, through the exaggerated

politic Kins

a narrative

AI.

mi

risis,

<

Kan up through

IRMS "i

ii

win

"EARTHWORKS" might be

the context

Leonardo

oi

but "DEMONSTRATIONS"

VAGI n
in'isaniu

111

VAGI

the neatly expanding


h

ion
IB

appropriati
ill

'

ins

si

nni\ ing in
i

MASSI

ill

ei

Ij

MS" (an

and

or political?)

scientifii

transition to "pri stigious objects

<

ither

cai

ulai

ill-

in nil

os

thi

This leads

laims to en

botl

tn

.i

ham

UNS

IN

ol

IQl ID

metal" (that's oni better than Versailles), highway


an orairlini an ("ensembles oi
rioi sOBjEt is ro
w
ai
hi si
mi
RAVI
ING
HIGH
SPI
DS"),
N
<

IA1

in|

diverting
alitn liniai

Id 'lO

thi
til

HI

and With

hi.

kivi ks," n turning


in In-

AND HANGING GARDENS"

PARKS

Y, Mi.

om

again

to proceci

Italy

Isonzo), befori
oflft

Mill

ol n,.

"

(evol

DIVI RSII IN

eonardo

from

thi

to the artist

'

lix

in trust to

dollars an hour

help finance

was

a m. ry

1SF0, ecjiiivalem then to lees lor

in

raftsmen. But the

mam

II

(this cimi

[url

others the

their

ot his or

diffit ulty

dreams The

her labor, for

ol

some

artists

others weeks, and

tor
alt

ulating the duration

on future

artist tax

sales ol

had been proposed


in complt ii seriousness im conventional an objet ts
like paintings or sculptures, and perhaps Morris was
In ing si nous here But K is hard not to see the tone

was not a

projects

mate

"aid

containing an element
Irony

is a

w mk.

diffii

till

also

soi

'

iii

.i

no longi

[i

like

thing
(

difft

i.i s

oi

Knoli
oi tin

chemical

dubiousness and absurdity

figun to
e

oni

rol, pi

rhaps

located in an artist's

is

us

bl

'

deep

ansi

ol

doubt

n in in

it

ovi

any

representation the artist makes


i

m plow

simplt dog ownt

n rard de Nerval

finishing with a comically

is

threatens to appear everywhert within

it

and every assertion


1

ol

casting the possibility

it.

It

political systems" as

Onct us present

impossibli

novelty

an ad chat offered amon;' us projei

Mini

RAI PRI >U< Is."

pan

would mean mil roseconds,

tor yet
oi

verify

ulated as

alt

tins

\\i>

"1 PI<

Twenty

ts

swamps" and

publii

ati

both

oi

ESTATE, O!

more purely
"

up

sets

that are offered for


,

nunc

the pay

ol

computable wage labor, something difficult


and compute it the artist's thinking time

activity as

chesi

political or both (was the 19 15 blasi ai

ir

Alamagordo

.i

touch

obvious, though

nicelj equivocal

is

the handling

in

good working wage

is

a little

however seriously thej

art transactions,

be put forward. The ke\ elements involve

to

the owner-sponsor to be held

ot

to

can luggesi fortifications,

ii

funding these

the

tot

thrust ot the proposal was to characterize the artists

otters biotech disasters in

KM PHENOMENA

some question about

ironit tone also raises

skilled professionals or master

in

(Leonardo again?) After which the modern

in

and

lethal,

waj we are to take the advertisement's proposal

other projet

of the

SYSTEMS," or wash away

Leonardo prophetically

here.

perhaps

the owner-sponsor," and the fifty-percent taxation

response CO environmental

h the artist otters Snail) to

III

his dangerous,

materials, construction and other msts to be paid by

which we could

to "SPEECHES,"

"AMI K\AII POLITH

AGRIC1

to cast
artist

from sales or tees, which the ad explicitly rejects, to a


"$25.00 per working hour wage plus all travel.

In

swamps'' to

ai.

SEASONS," reads like

standard

seems

It

which the

ot the arena in

grandeur of his ambitions, claims, Mid doubtful

the slutt

reasonably characterize as "OUTDcmik SOI NDS FOB


s

ofl

doubt on the nature

appear

comedy and

the ad both the

in

are contemporary. "EXPLOSIONS"?

The passage from

VARIoi

discourse now this way.

though sometimes more and sometimes

The

INI

it

artist as well.

But, at the same time,

not.'

[ere

occasionally quite trivial projects, on the role oi the

illustrious

house of Sforza

liked to do.

mode

is

that, and.

competences and

the auspicious

of

now

is

embue

horse, n hich fhall

memory of the Prince your father and of the

commentary

sarcasm which adopts

light

of speech, the intended implication of which

not

is

it

a sort

the opposite ol the literal sense ot the words

can ex

with immortal glory

that Webster's defines as

appears as an intermittent and variable force,

river.

too small

lar.

have ways of arriving at a

noise even though it

underneath trenches or a

and strong and suitable


to pursue and at times

which

in
is

and secnt winding passages,

certain fixed spot by caverns

made without

light

with which

easily,

project

the figure ot irony hovers over this text,

It

the simple

for carrying very

No

qualified to engage

is

assures us chat

.u\

but a partial listing ot projects

owning
walking

doesn't hark

iii

r,

Ins

,i

different way

he mt ans

dog

a lobstt

pi
i

rhaps

on the rue de

and knows the

set rets

The one
of irony has

artist

most

clearly

committed

to the figute

been Duchamp, and, consequently, he

is

the artist about the significance of whose works critics

have found

it

Duchamp

that

Nothing

nearly impossible to agree.

made

ever

him with

The

others and

text of the 1970s stands


is

Morris

tries to

connect with

All of the theorizing takes place in the

The

rest

is

Nauman."

first

four

experiences with

them and

their work,

Plague Year (1722), with which

and

None

artists,

Dayton

is

the most colorful

and he receives the most elaborate

personal description:

Dayton himself is a fairly unnerving personality. He keeps


his

head shaved, which seems

to

accentuate the deep scars

and neck. He also wears a

monocle around his

He seems

to

enjoy playing up

abundance

thick glass of his monocle

to see

When

was with him he frequently squinted at me through

the

and would leeringly compare


When he

the

venting systems of Buchenwald and Belsen.

of contingent detail.

far

of the three

certain sinister ambience that surrounds his work.

A Journal of the

shares an

it

alter psychic states.

detail or read a gauge.

has

it

Sacramento." After

neck which he occasionally peers through if he needs

a first-person journalistic

the plausibility of Daniel Defoe's

in a studio "outside

with liquid crystals and highly corrosive acids,

on his face

account of Morris's meeting with the artists and his

all

26

he has turned to working with gases in order to

Michael

artists like

Asher, Larry Bell, Robert Irwin, and Bruce

paragraphs.

lower.

nearly blinding himself working to achieve visual


effects

crucial in this regard.

"The Art of Existence. Three Extra- Visual Artists:


Works in Process" seems like a straightforward account
of the work of Marvin Blaine, Jason Taub, and
Robert Dayton, three unknown environmental artists

who

was much

to

in one's ears

text culminates in the visit to Dayton's gas

chambers

sufficient reason to connect

Duchamp. One

all his

seemed similar

It

what one experiences when one hears ringing

or did, from the readymades

irony beyond his continued assertion of his

relation to

out from

is

which seemed to be inside my head.


except the experienced sound

to his dining habits, could ever escape its effects.

In Morris's case, there

one of the circular spaces 1 felt rather than heard a sound

was so

of the projects of these three artists

removed from the work of other well-known

artists

showed me

first

the inside of the rooms he

shower heads as gas

inlets

would be

asked if I thought

unsightly.

of the period, or even from that of Morris himself.


Blaine was constructing a hillside

chamber observatory
Taub was

He

offers to give Morris a "retrospective gassing,"

to record the sunrise of the vernal equinox;

which proceeds from

designing experiments in extra-audial perception

iodine clouds, moves on to his "middle period fart

of radio waves; and

chambers

Dayton was making a

for altering sensory states.

Any

work with bromine and

his early

composed of various mixtures of butyl

series of gas

palette,"

of these

acetates, nitrobenzene,

and butyl mercaptan,

finally

projects could have been proposed to the Los Angeles

passing on to a set of gases that to Morris "presented

County Museum of Art for their 1967 Art and


Technology show. But the unusual position of Morris

the most interesting and unfamiliar experiences." 2.


as

audience and sole art-world witness of these works,

and

his uncharacteristic detailing of his responses

not only to the works but to

all sorts

of surrounding

contingencies, soon began to arouse suspicion:

Finally

had moved to a

side plank in order not to interfere with

the rectangle of light

now expanding down

the wall to

within about six feet of the center plank. I was feeling the

dampness and even a


thermos
light

and as

noticed that the top edge of the

was shrinking downward.

On

the

way

to the

airport the following day the extremely taciturn Blaine

revealed that he

had notions for several

might realize next summer.

other works that he

19

is

embarking on

Willy Reich's Orgone Box" because

"lincier than

up with

loads Morris

pack of scientific

and

effects of negative ions,

calls after

it

him

articles

as Morris drives off

in his Dr. Strangelove persona,

"Screw the MOMA, but see what you can do for

me at

Auschwitz." 25

We all had coffee from a

slight chill.

looked up

reveals that he

"Negative Ion Chamber" that would be

promises to get rid of "brain 5-hydroxytryptamine,"

on the
/

Dayton

a project for a

So

it's

a fiction, a kind of parabolic fiction strongly

The question is, What


The aims of artists like
or James Turrell? Or of Morris himself?

marked by the
is

figure of irony.

the target of the irony?

Asher, Irwin,

The

"dematerialization of art," a discourse that figured

so largely

among

the artists of the 1970s?

Or

all of

the above, which appears likely enough now, and was,

This

is

the rhetoric of what the French would call

classic fiction.
artists"

And

the

work of the next two "unknown

becomes more and more

fantastic, leading to

increasingly trivial or disagreeable responses:

always thought, readable at the time'

Though

of Anforum denounced

unknown
/

did not know what

this

"shaping of the perceiver" was

about until Taub turned on the equipment


to

enter the framed up enclosure.

As

and invited me

soon as

stepped into

not to everyone. Because two months after

Morris's essay appeared, a letter in the

artists

Morns

tor

by presenting them

taking possession of their work

had created and given a name

March

ripping

in a

to.

by a Mark N. Edwards of Madison,

issue

ofl his

three

in his article

and

context that he

The
(

letter,

written

onnecticut, in a

DAVID ANTIV

and produced

moment

its

works

Morris's

scandal (no. 125)

ot local

the 1970s didn't invoke ironic

of

Given the nature of most of Ins exhibitions,


seemed little reason why they should.

readings.

there

But

1980s Morris's work took

in the

turn.

tunereal installation at

York

in

1980 called P

series ot proposals tor

stranger

Sonnabend

New

in

ttured a

cenotaphs crowned by death's-

heads. This was followed by an installation at Leo

astelli

\<-w Y>rk. later the same year, called V


\

no. 101

Night)

Museum m Washington,

Mm rte

name

(the

Preludes (For

1979-80.

A. B.),

Italian

onyx, silkscreened text,

electric light, metal, plastic, paint. Collection of the artist.

inmate

hit h

D.<

L981 at the

1980,

Hirshhorn

called Jornada del

.,

the desert valley south of Los

of

Alamos, where the


of

and an installation

I,

A-bomb

tirsr

a massively

st

both

tests took place),

aled and oln iously

emblematic meditation on death, the atomic bomb,


and planetary extinction. low to take these works was
I

who had

not very clear to anyone

tone somewhat similar to Smith's review

of the

on

oi a

retrospective, goes

accuse the .irust

to

<>t

np-ott going back to the Castelh Warehouse show.

in

which

him

Ins curatorial presence also assured

authorial credit tor ideas generated by younger artists.

The

intent oi the

dwards

letter

is

figure out, but the inflated, garrulous,

obscuring rhetoric

which

in

Was

was

letter written

Edwards

tin

omposed

from

tool

1980s, ilu physical .uk\ mate

subordinated to an overriding and graphically

sell

by Morris'

so,

It

.1

town

hi

denuni iational style

argument appear

the

in

mouth

ir

was

metaphorical sp.uc

oi

might appear to be

a fairly

Madison The

ailed

ulated to

al<

<

European modi

far as

Morris's answer?

mode

inauthenticity

ot

would

Edwards

\\i

distn

ii

evidently interested in rescuing damsels /

ate

r<

urn

Possibly,

but to what
trily

thai

Morris wroci

had

-..

such an

to construct

tnaj nOI have


:

havi

effect

gam

eli

had the im lin.Kion


ii

foi

truth

thi

ii.

ii
|

and

..i

in

of

is

way in which suspicion


Ai

1,

no

it

tv

and

is closi

hi

to

New
thi

and two unusual

and

thi
\

I,

inhibition

ii

kind

\ pi

ol

prii

ts,

S&M

It

us

oi

and a

rat

from

hi exiguous

dealei world starved for


ts

rushed to

German

painting taste

Both deployed

In

junkyard

si

by

n. tins

ol

styli

menu ol

an expressionist
i

and

And

in thi

muddy

chematics

rman and Ami rii an


Neo
painting had become
i

"

1980, under the nam<

kind

iii

financially

rewarding.

was widely exhibited and written about

journals

more

assist the

American punk painting, which was

revived expressionism

ot

ss n a

the earlier 1" 'Os had

lil

urban decay, and,


I

art oi

crude and emblematii drawing

i.iw n

worth

win

ml in

paletti ovei
1

mode

And, of course, one was

eptual

U marketable objei

appetites of tht few collectors willing

immensely populai and

no 88)

uriously

the

context setting that

employ ing

sufficiently successful to bi

quickly assimilated to a

continues to spread

(19

leai

al pi

om

in

problem

thi

developmem

Or

graduati

importanci than

IL.n:

nied the

4 2

oi

of]

126),

xpi

plus K

dw.udss n.ium

(Madison

ol irony

id. xhibicions
'

him,

less

of buffoonery

pieci

to pay ai

ii

the

ol

noi Molii n

literary skill oi

tin

lioolediicatioii.uV.il'

Haven) But

he absurdii
is

And

cleat

juiti
I

Morris

ii

onstru ted

is

follow from

h<

exhausted

some

nt

<

or ripping of]

availabli

si

change

radical

to raise the

requires

It

primary

meaning making

hi

adapt

I'm not.

n.

more than

takes

It

mam

to position the

discourse

meaning making

ot

how

is

ask. the Roberta .Smith problem''

we might

\ni quit<

Western

traditional

and meaning making. The

interpretation here

in

tins,

Is

within the art -work context of its circulation.

Bui Ih.w mux h further does the ironj extend? As

ol art

artist in relation to this

hieve this

a<

to be read OUt oi

going

diffil ulty

the letter and us incoherent

oi

perft ctly

Any meaning that


them has to pass through the
some dominant emblem, which

is

an apparent

ot

properties are entirely

rial

presented metaphorical discourse

Or

to reveal the absurdity oi at in ulai


it

the 1970s share

ol

easy enough to

there really a Mr. Edwards?

Sol lo slander by plai ing

the 1960s and the anti-

of

a mode oi meaning
making derived from our response to the materiality
of the objects and the working procedures used
to fabric ate or arrange them. In the work oi the

lorm work

and

was written might

it

arouse suspicion.

The Minimalist work

Morris

pattern

followed Morris's

career through the 1960s and 1970s.

artistic

pn

isi

ol

Di mail

in all the

Kuspii

most

its

prolific

American

publicist,

was seen

it

as an

urgent philosophical engagement with the forces of


'"

destruction and death.


In 1980, Morris does Preludes, his proposals for

cenotaphs, at Castelli and at Sonnabend he exhibits his

Second Study for a View from a Corner of Orion (Night),

an extraterrestrial view of disaster with twisted mirrors

No

near the ceiling.

on the market

in

one could say he was closing


Neo-Expressionist painting. But

for

the shows could be seen as establishing a claim

on the discourse with death. Then,


Hydrocal

come

in 1982,

the

282-87), deeply embedded

reliefs (pp.

decorative molds prolific in body parts and skeletal

come

fragments, which, by 1983,

to act as elaborate

frames for Turneresque pastel, watercolor, and

oil

images of brushy and swirling color whose undulating

movements the frames echo and repeat in threedimensional form. By 1986, these works are presented
in an exhibition at the Newport Harbor Art
Museum, in Newport Beach, California, accompanied

Preludes (For

A. B.): Roller

Public Figure, 1979-80

Disco Cenotaph
34

electric light, metal, plastic, paint,

35

86.4

artist.

17.8 cm). Collection of the

for a

onyx, silkscreened text,

(detail). Italian

x 7

inches (88.9

by a catalogue containing an extensive essay by Kuspit,

"The Ars Moriendi According

to

Such developments might seem

Robert Morris.'"'

But the context has

be drawn a

to

By the 1970s almost

Modernist paradigm as

it

wider than

little

generation of Abstract Expressionists

in the art

of the special and trivialized Greenbergian version

Modernism generally accepted within the

world, and partly

it

maturity by the end of

artistic

they had finally

confidence in the

all

was understood

world had collapsed. Partly this was a consequence

of

first

were adults before the war, but they

Smith reading.
that.

The

to validate the full

was a consequence of Modernism's

came
is

and Surrealism

to their

to say that

themselves from

to free

the particular forms of Modernist painting


that had haunted their

Cubism

work

through the 1930s and early 1940s, though Cubist

and Surrealist

art

managed

all

Which

it.

art

had long since

lost critical force

and

acquired the deadly status of connoisseur objects. 29

successes and the inflated estimation of their

And

significance. In any event, by the mid-1970s, the entire

paid handsomely by the successful and increasingly

project of post- World


art

by which

mean

War

II

American Modernist

to include all the

work of

if

the Abstract Expressionists were eventually

materialistic society that they were so critical of,

they were the

last

group of artists

Modernism

still

in the long

and the work

Abstract Expressionism, through Hard-edge painting

career of

and Pop

they made, as resolutely outside of and against the

the Minimalist sculpture of the

art, to

1960s and

continuations in the anti-form sculpture

its

dominant

its

own

terms, had

come

narrow museological space, walled

and power,

in

which

it

was unable

to

in

to

the generation of Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg,

occupy

by money

engage

significantly with the rest of the intellectual

and

social

was

War

largely

work,

The
to this pass

different sense of its career

of World

Larry Rivers, and the Pop artists


to the culture. If there

environment.

Modernism had come


II left

from

a very-

and mission. The end

the United States, which

undamaged by the

conflict,

culture.

Their successors within the Modernist tradition

and systematic Conceptualism of the 1970s


successful in

to see themselves,

with a great

it

were

firmly married

was cultural criticism

in their

took the same form as cultural promotion.

advertising image, the commercial photograph,

the film

still,

and the

TV

with paint. For a brief

image cheerfully mingled

moment

during the early 1960s

there was the illusion that art could enter into


significant

communication

in tine

public sphere and

reservoir of savings, great productive assets,

that such a public space existed. For many, this illusion

large foreign markets, a near-total absence of serious

was fostered by the Kennedy presidency, with

economic competitors, and

image

a great sense

of confidence resulting from

its

victory over

what

looked, to most Americans, like the pure forces of evil.


If serious artists

had no direct relation to

this

growing affluence, they were powerful participants


in

the milieu of cultural confidence that resulted

from

it.

of a

("the best

government presided over by

intelli

and the brightest") and the promise

its
i

tuals

<>i

,i

(JFK was supposed to have writt< n


a book, ami Ja< kie had dreamed of me< ting the dan< e
impressario Diaghilev), And die Minimalist .md the
hip, high culture

systemic ami
painters,

tei

hnologii

al s

and the Pop and

ulptors, tin

posi

Popust

<>i

lard

edge

figuration

ID A

NT IN

4 3

m
Jornada del Muerto 1981.
reproduction, mirrors, steel,

Hirshhorn

Museum and

Nylon,

felt,

human

photomechanical

skeletons. Installation at the

Sculpture Garden, Washington,

DC,

December 1981-February 1982

seemed, with

few notable exceptions, co parallel,

glamorize, and glorify the


re<

intellectuals

omnium,

scum

who exen

who opposed

Hi a so. ial tain

civil-rights

lie

mail

ii

tearing

i.

movement

All

tins

<>l

Martin

Valerie Solanis

In 1973,

ft*

thi

o
spei

splinti n

>l

uthi

Let

King, Rob<

tai

It

by

Harvej
rt

Watergate unfolded

testimony

t.u

lor long

hams

ol

that could only be supported by

equally ot evt n more dubious memories


respei cablt

looking

men w ho had been

ret
i

ited bj

aught

in

theorists had been teat hing in the

academy

power ol language disintegrates


where the unspoken sot ial treaties

that the referential

hom<
ol

supposed

a soi ial

movement dominated

tin-

unrespectable circumstances, learned what the speech

when

was pun. mated by

watc hers, the fundamental

nam test Anyone who watched

at

even shot And) Warhol

the point

The

was intensified

a p. in

John Kennedy,

iequenci of assassinations

Oswald, Malcolm X

If

no rational

disintegrated into

New Left

ims seceded from

ommissars

Kennedy

i.ir

Pbwec movt ment, and urban

Blai k

thi

nd as the
1

revealing

it,

power and the

ised

TV

hours, hearing dubious memories produi

a gap

ation could take plac< between them.

paratisms,

4 4

before millions of

separation between language and action became

tive

War gradually opened

the intellei tuals

..

prodiu

hniqui

hut the Vietnam

iety's

s<><

setting

underwriting

its

uses are broken

It

wouldn't be

mm

in

of an exaggeration to say that Richard Nixon gave


birth to

American postmodernism.

h didn't take lour

understanding to
inn onlj
politil

all

was there no
then was no

loi artists to

signification

generalize tins

and to conclude

common ground

umw

rsall\

in the

niiimnii

that

body

ground

in

the

phenomenology of the human body


critical theory was coming to see

much

The

socially constructed represention.

either,

which

essential failure

London

in 1971, while at least in part

museum

stuffiness of the English

due

supported by fragments

Salle, largely

of late-Modernist French theory. Both the performative

new

of Morris's interactive show at the Tate Gallery


in

Sherry Levine, Richard Prince, Cindy Sherman, and

even David

as also a

narrative

and the appropriations mode flanked

Neo-Expressionism, which had

to the

new

tradition,

common

in

with the

narrative intermittent attempts at representation

was also the consequence of the show's Minimalist

and, at least in

phenomenology, undertaken in a

and limited competence before whatever imagined

where an invitation

grounded

social context

to a conception of the

body

unified

seen by participants as an invitation to a

fun

most of the punk painting, bad painting,

graffiti painting,

While Morris intermittently returned

fair/"

confronted them. Because the one thing that

reality

mechanics was predictably

in its physical

to his

its

beginnings, a sense of a contingent

its

and Neo-Expressionist painting was

rudimentary technique, the near childishness

means, and the pathos thus evoked before the

phenomenological concerns throughout the 1970s,

of

they were simply extensions of his 1960s work and

apparent cultural and psychic disasters

found continually declining resonance in the art world,

weak instrument of painting

its

in

vantage point, the contest of texts presented

this

Hearing and Voice seem more

like

wished the

But Morris had abandoned performance by the

while he was already pursuing other interests. Seen

from

it

to confront.

1970s, his only experiment with narrative was

"The Art of Existence," and he generally avoided

attempts to

respond to those aspects of the breakdown of the

autobiography until the publication of "Three

modernist paradigm that nearly everyone in the

Folds in the Fabric and Four Autobiographical Asides,"

world would soon come to

art

post-Modernism, while

call

Labyrinth (1974, no. 119) appears to have had

origins in Morris's older Modernist concerns with

the physical

Modernism

body

world was a performative

in the art

that expanded to

fill

significance of the

the gap

left

extent, with their real

11

mode

new

and

November 1989."

in

In 1980,

a hugely amplified address

obvious property

suppose that

and, to that

is

on

in giant installations

whose most

magniloquence. Are we to

for a sophisticated artist like Morris

an

installation like Preludes constitutes straightforward

and implied performances,

discourse? Each focal point of the installation

both the Tate show and Labyrinth articulate a response


to the

America

in

commonplace theme,

by the fading

autonomous object

Art

vast scale,

But the mark of post-

in space.

in

however, he turned to metaphoric representation, a

its

is

a proposal for a cenotaph. So consider the text

silkscreened beneath the skull presiding over

situation in spite of their institutionally

neutral settings.
Still,

what the new situation of the 1970s seemed


was an abdication from universalist claims.

to require

As the master

and

narratives of history

to replace

them. So the

earliest

The individual's favorite possessions

art history

collapsed, local and contingent narratives

and most

came

shoes, the tie pin, the Ferrari, the

effective

new

work invoked the most particularly contingent


and

local in the

Roller Disco:

Cenotaph for a Public Figure

collection, etc.

are carefully

cross-sections of the objects

twin Modernist taboos of narrative and representation.

the cross-sections face

circular floor

in pieces like

Eleanor Antin's epistolary photonovel The Adventures

100 Boots (1971 73), Jonathan Borofsky's dream

texts

and images, Yvonne Rainer's performance This

woman who

(1973),

and virtually

Somewhat

later, for a

have spent most of

its

ball, the

half.

The

art

edges of

which are then embedded in a

is

and a

poured as a finish

upward. The matrix forms a vast

top layer of smooth, transparent plastic


surface.

over this floor, the building


is

all

of

Laurie Anderson's early 1970s performance and text

works.

sawed in

transparent plastic matrix. The objects are arranged so that

These concerns were most evident

the story of a

the golf clubs, the

the cuts are filed or otherwise cleaned to reveal the precise

form of a floating and equivocal

autobiography and unique approaches to the

of

bowling

generation that seems to

childhood watching television or

wooden

elaborate
floor.

trusses.

is

large building

is

erected

held up with a maze of

No pole

or column intersects the

The appropriate decor and sound system are

installed.

campaign

suitable

is

initiated.

name

is

found.

discreet advertising

Only the highest quality

roller skates

an

allowed.-

"

shuffling the pages of Cosmopolitan, Gentleman's

Quarterly, Playboy, and Seventeen, the master narratives

The

encoded

the Ferrari"

in literature

were replaced by a master image

reservoir located in the

the sense of an

mass media, which produced

immense

surfeit of

images having

no reference points beyond the manipulated desires


generating them. This led to the
appropriations

deployed by

mode

that was

much

most

artists as different as

overdiscussed

effectively

Barbara Kruger,

recitation of "the golf clubs, the shoes, the tie pin,


is

broad parody of the contents of

rov.il

The

texts

burials like the Viking ship at Sutton


are broad

and sardonic and displace the

loo

installation's

purported solemnity, just as the skeletons


climbing the twisted

steel clouds, in

Second Stua

View from a Corner of Orion (Night), created


disaster movie as they evoked the imag< oi

a S( i-h

tin drifting

DAVID ANT1N 48

ruins of a wrecked space ship. "\\

were they

li.it

looking tor out there. Scotty?" In Jornada

helmeted black skeletons

we

ride

Jet

absurd phallic bombs.

are looking at atomic disaster, we're looking

-it

expressed through nearly comic-book imagery.

works seek

to

engage with social

So they seem

more

these

It

propose

arises, thej

engage through the most obvious

to

cliches.

It

it

representational

of

themselves

to position

significantly in relation to the problematics

of representation tor

public art than they attempt

produce

mum

The

to represent anything in particular.

an exasperated ineffectualit)

of

thej

ot

communication carried over to the rest of Morris's


work of the 1980s through to the decorative Hydrocal

become

rehets that

de

tin

frames tor the

siecle

sweetly colored Burning Planet paintings, which don't


Untitled

63

1984. Painted Hydrocal and pastel on paper.

73

Sonnabend

15 inches (161.3

Gallery,

New

186.7

much

function so

38.1 cm). Courtesy

York.

as paintings than as

Sublime' reduced to the status

ot tlte

mere

the nearh ine\ itable fate ot this kind

exprt ssmn.

of

earned out here with the strong possibility


Hut what do thej parody? There- are

Suue

possible readings.

much

so

as tin

ami

works on whatever

poodle

number ot gentlefolk walking


own ambitions for a grandl)

bin Morris's

s.

even

d. representational public art are

,il>

Self-parody, then,

mb<

n mi

most probable, espei

is

Ins 197

is

urn Minis

S&M

Untitled

95

1983. Painted Hydrocal and pastel on paper,

9(

11 inches (229.9 x 241.3 x 27.9 cm). Private collection.

ho

produced

Smith review

thi

difTerem

ntirelj

In

one-

the combination

1990
are,

orcoran

<

however, in

encaustic paintings are

huge, often ten to twelve

rally

it

parody both.

t,i

iat

lose

iallj

The work, perhaps,

poster.

The- paintings and drawings in the

show

a possible

closes) to

it's

lobster on the rue de Kivoh shared

sidewalk with any

s<

becomes

essential!) banal paintings,

Nerval walking
a

expansive

in its more-

Ansel m Kiefers large, decorative,

as in

target. Parod)

German

sie< le.

Neo-J xpressionism, particularly

moments,

parody,

ot

think two

the frames suggest nothing

h rm.m tm de

signifiers

decoration

of

fe<

high or long, but

images and texts of which they 'n

of

that discounts
composed produces a rebuslikt tie
their size and makes them operatt like oversize

diaw mi's

Because

on lang<

.i

image bank

the

:<

<

is

works bj Morris himself, even when


obvious

lear; tins

emblemati) significance

its

mo

iiiinMs.

products
1

bj

is

no means

live

in

an often enigmatit

relation

the Hydrocal framed paim ings wert public,

these paintings an

is

and older

source

thi

further complicated bj th< elliptical texts

is

with which they


[f

draw n from

history, populai magazines,

ot .ot

noi

nt

["hey

d( IiIh ratelj

ol a privati

mm

on

tcln

vi ii.

us metaphoi for

seem hermetit
puzzling

emblem book,
1

hi

n mi

ii

dream

ill

oi
'i

is

like

in theii

the

analogues
I

u ud

structure, analogues

1.

f<

moils
n

die. mi

Tin
Untitled

al

and pasl
'

Hi

pi. i\

(1990, pp

hi

"''

of Witi

meaning

in

the Investigations drawings

95) seems somewhat


i

nil

in

sp aks hke
(

freer,

.in in. i.

Ii

where the

among

mix of media images

floating

Jackson

Pollock, Ethel

and Julius Rosenberg, Marian Anderson, Bernard


Baruch(?)

meditating on

"to

go so

its

expression," or "But the exclamation

in a different sense

us

use language to get between

far as to try to

The

pain."'

from the report:

it is

significance of the language

so

is

not hard to

track, but the images are harder to read because their

more or

allusions,

less

obscured by time,

roles they play in a personal

may count

we have only limited

We may

have a

image reservoir

access.

fair

Or should we

to learn

is

"We

by heart,"

only learn

so on, through as long

and reasonably

clear for an audience

relation of the texts to the

images

as the pieces of text to each other,

work with a

Latin.

little
is

But the

at least as variable

and

this leaves the

clear if indeterminate discourse.

so with Time

and Loss and Grief and the Body

(1990), a bipartite painting in which the image of a

spyglass in hand, his feet anchored in the

rigging of his ship and his body miraculously

of

Pollock would count for in Morris's imagination. But

what does Anderson count

we hunger," and

are fairly simple

sailor,

what the image

idea of

if

Not
which

to

hunger

hunger,"

is

sequence as we are disposed to imagine. So the parts

than their ambiguous appearance or the

for less

learn by heart

that can check a source and read a

to

is

we

"All

multiple associations: "To learn

for

to hunger," "To

is

by heart

is

forced from

related to the experience as a cry

it is

hunger" allows

by heart

the difficult relations

between language and feeling and action: "For how can


pain and

of connectives between "to learn by heart" and

cantilevered out over the water, scans the horizon for

ask what the image of the black, open-mouthed singer

some distant sight on the right half of the painting,


which is repeated on the left half in a more blurred

with the closed eyes counts for? Passion? Expressive

image

in

head.

The

And

powers

which

is

really

the pictorial position of this image,

literally situated

is

for?

above three others

one

of

which the

has become a death's-

sailor's face

center of the painting bears the repeated

words of the

painted over and under and

title

an earthwork, a second of a social grouping of people,

overlapping each other within an illusionistic space.

over a third of a group struggling in what looks like a

Sultan identifies the image and interprets

swamp

one of transcendance or distance?

And what

it

in a

reasonable way, writing that "the intensely athletic

relation does this have to Wittgenstein's ironic line

gesture of the leveraged figure of Buster Keaton, an

on the nonlogical power of experience: "Nothing could

image taken from the film The Love Nest (1923),


represents an expression of searching and loss, a leap

induce

me

after all

put

to

it is

my hand

in the flame

only in the past that

although

have burnt

into the void that

myself?"

The

is

also an act of physical prowess; to

those familiar with the source,


paintings seem more simply structured,

employing clear binary contrasts and mirror imaging,

source of this image,

and sometimes they are much more obvious, as in the

simply in humor.

comic diptych Enthusiastic for

the Ratio (1989), in

which

on the right

a great beast in a panel

quietly reading a very small

book across from a


on the left. Some,

Memory

Hunger (1990),

Is

The

film

earlier as

sits

"rationally" divided, colored panel


like the quadripartite

in

Yvonne Rainer

originally published in the issue of

and poet Jill Johnston." Rainer's essay

Feast (1964)

and the four

figures,

The Colossus

(ca. 1812), a

somewhat blurred image

of a Holocaust victim, a slightly dissolved version of

Morris as he appeared in his

S&M

(given the outfit he's wearing,

it

poster,

might

and

as well

a soldier

be

Hemingway in his guise as the Great White Hunter).


Then there is the title printed across all four panels,

is

and melancholy memoir of the two

women's intertwined

distributed one to a panel counterclockwise, as Goya's

resonance doesn't end here or

Les Levine's journal Culture Hero devoted to the critic

In her catalogue essay, the curator, Terrie Sultan,

quote from Ernest Hemingway's

its

of Keaton appeared eighteen years

still

nostalgic, comic,

memoir A Movable

also evokes a richly

an emblematic illustration for an essay by

spite of their simplicity, are, nevertheless, not obvious.

identifies the title as a

it

absurd humor."'' To those familiar with a second

lives, their

complex

relation

within the 1960s art and dance world, and their


eventual separation.

It's

shot through with recollections

of dancing, art making, parties, breakups and


reconciliations, accidents

them

flicker

and

relationship with Morris and


of

illnesses,

and through

fragmentary memories of Rainer's

Keaton operates

like

its

ending. So the image

an image in a dream, evoking

not only Keaton's athleticism and

its loss

through

alcoholism but, through the association with Rainer,

above which are printed, partially reversed and

the loss of a lover, the loss of a lover's body, the loss of

inverted, the Latin words EDISCERE ("to learn by heart")

one's

and ESURIRE

athleticism, creativity, and

If

("to hunger").

the relation between the white hunter and the

dissolved image of Morris suggests a loss of power, and


that between the Colossus and the Holocaust victim
a relation

between power and powerlessness, the

title

is a meditation on loss and on the grotesquerie of both


power and powerlessness. As for the text, the absence

own young

body, and the complex of youth,


life

that was the past. This

painting, though fortuitously interpretable in the


a

dream may

be,

is

other dream; and

suspect that then are

paintings and drawings like this

were exhibited

at the

So where docs

way

no more a public work than any

among

<

>r

In

the works that

Corcoran.

this leave tin quest

i<

DAVID ANTIN 47

authenticity.'' In spite of

my own

distaste

mode, the persona


work is tairlv

for the biographical recuperative

body

that emerges from Morris's

consistent

that of a restless, ironic, and intellectual

who engages

artist

of

with whatever surrounding

discourses happen to interest

him and

soon as they

him. This kind of

persona

(.ease to interest

ajudd

very different trom that of

is

them

leaves

as

or

LeWitt, or even a Christo. whose works consist of a

single stylistic gesture that

wide

allowed to unfold over

is

The recurrence

field.

within

of the gesture

their art suggests a persistence that occasionally verges

on virtuosity within

narrow range

ot choices

trom the austere to the decorative. But

not as

it's

Andre orjudd or LeWitt individually arrived

it

some

at

idea of simplicity and elementary organization.

Because

was not an idea but

it

a sculptural discourse

about simplicity and the elementary that developed

communal

the
Investigations

1990. Graphite on vellum, 18

18 inches (45.7

Gallery,

New

45.7 cm). Courtesy Sonnabend

York.

in

space ot the American art world

end

of the 1950s, a discourse that tor some


seemed exhausted by the 1970s, though not
most of those whose reputations had been

at the

tor

artists

made by

is

persona

a persistent

is

and

a nervouslj attentive

A nomad

mobile one.

why

hard to see

It's

it.

more authentic than

surely as authentic as a

homeowner.
A

Roberta Smith,

The

Net.

/."...,

<

No

Hypersensitive

Kublt

irge

Smith,

New Gustons,

In

1978), p

Hilton Kramer,

"A Mand

Tht Nn.

m America 66

,'31

York Abbevillt

neral sociological
its

Howard

distribution, set

mil

Press, 1981

Storr, Pbilip

ii, i,

win n

Decembei

Moms

in

i.i'

feel

si

in Ibid

2.40 m). Collection

paint

to

thai the

Green Galler] slum would be admitted to as

not

Notes on Sculptun

Pan

6);

Octobei 19

in

Batti

or)

and

reprinted in

ock (Nev<

">

ork

Ann

ml Note
12,

II.

'

1
,

1.

1968)

no 8

.ii.iii

69 no 10

><

mb<

<

10

Somi Notei
ivati

\|.|il

'

i4

<

'-

Beyond Objeci

Part IV

Notes on s ulpi nn

Moi

foi iln

mi"

10

p|

...

Morris

Sculptun

Mon
M'.i

-I

mark

of < tradi

Itwasonlj

of graj

M,. in-.

1981), pp 9

I"

u-.c

96

(April 1969),

1H

of

University ol

(Berkele)

rids

repeated Ins

i* rsistentl)

Critic*

Dun
I

ol the

{rtV

Becker,

inches x

1986)

Press,

Notes on Sculptun

account of th<

account of art making and the networks

ame something

bet

it

9 Roberi Mums.

hes (3.64

full

Robert Storr, Philip

se<

had so

fanuar)

a inn but

For a

<

where

uii

7 )e-'

Manypeopli saw then painted plywood objects as whin

on aluminum,

no

Be a Stumblebum,

riding to

i'

\rt

it* Histat

L02

controversy over Guston's nevi figuration,

Hunger 1990. Enc

!"

University Press,

Februarj

(Januar)

It

IT

mrki on

(New Haven Yak

Memory

II.

Ibid ,p. 33

2.

:.

the Next Thing,"

fbi

20, 1991, SO

|.UH..,rs

'In
i,

'i

Part

no

I\

Phem

14

lology of Making

(April

in

970), p. 6

rhe advertisement

WiHinulnm.

is

.in./ ii

reprinted in Maurici
\.\v York

Berger, Labyrinli

Harper and Row

Search

Time and Loss and Grief and the Body, 1990. Encaustic

11%

on aluminum, 3 feet

3.63 m). Collection

inches

Leonardo da Vinci, Codex

17.

feet 11 inches (1.22 x

1 1

of the artist.

Bramly, Leonardo: Discovering


HarperCollins, 1991),

391

Allantictis,
the Life

as cited in Serge

r.,

of Leonardo da Vinci

and development of

artist.

Mark N. Edwards

in

2833.

Process," Artforum 9, no. 5 (January 1971), pp.

diagram taken from Marvin Blaine's work

the

'

another

Works

Artists:

shown in

another piece of Morris art grafted from the thought

174.

p.

Morns, "The Art of Existence. Three Extra- Visual

18.

in the article, as

(New York:

Madison, Conn.
(Artforum 9, no. 7 [March 1971], p.

19. Ibid., p. 30.

8).

20. Ibid., pp. 31-32.


26. Ibid.

21. Ibid., p. 33.

22. Ibid.

27. See Donald Kuspit, The

23. Ibid.

Arbor, Mich.:

24.

more benign view of the work


book on Morris: "In 1971

excellent

is

[in

group of fictional
notion that this

field

a parody of

not so easy to

The

25.

The

something

29. This

The

narrative does evoke

direction and extent of the irony

however,

is,

as a hard

and

well be witnessing the twilight of Robert Morris' artistit

thru "younger" artists in your January issue seam

attempt

to

put

He

of) the inei liable.

By

recognizing the life-styles

reinvent bimselj once

and work

again and

to be

His

an

all-out

any of the products

create

of thru unknown

a prototype

He

which he can survive another decade.

attempts

kind of literary

to

deception allou

u itb ih, essencx u

Morris

lie

untamed by

Ha

intentions

ban

instead to see

him as a

m.

decepi

public can no longer take

a particularly

htm

tensitivi

bii

effet t

on

Morris has
t

mporary

onti

The publh

is

sworn

1990),

bi

bos helped, as

Press, 1989).

and Four Autobiographical

(November 1989), pp. 142-51.

DC:
to

Smithsonian Institution, 1982),

Endure

or

Deny

the

p. 58.

World, ed. Terric Sultan,

DC: Corcoran M

\rt.

p. 50.

35. Sultan, "Inability to

Endure or Deny the World."

in ibid.,

36. Ibid., p. 18.


Rt printed in
ol

I974),p

significant artist

Object

recent critical

illustrated in the catalogue (or the exhibition at the

exhibition catalogue (Washington,

Yl

off further contact

is

catalogue (Washington,

College

credibility; time is his worst enen,

weather nine

The proposal

tin

pp. 17-18.

now

figure fad

Sayre, The Object of Performance: The American

32. Morris, "Three Folds in the Fabric

34. Robert Morris: Inability

u orId's chief iconoclast, we choose

at face value, neither as

the Castelli warehouse show, have


these artists together in

tin art

yet pathetic,

His past work has insured his

nor as

and com

his present artistic activity.

Hirshhorn Museum. See Metaphor, ed. Howard Fox, exhibition

who, as

the system.

a situation

been disguised to the present.

on to him: rather than teeing him as

Henry

more

1970 (Chicago: University of Chicago

33-

remained a rather amorphous figure who has had a great


tsthetit

since

Praeger, 1973). For a

Asides," Art in America 77, no. 8

resurrection of bis worn-out

to enter into

The Dematerialization of the Art

Years:

19661972 (New York:

from

interpretation, see

leaving tin donors u ith nothing. His desperate need for

/>,/,

recognition can barely

Lucy Lippard, Six

of relevant activity through

and outside

remain anonymous

his maturity.

see Berger, Labyrinths, p. 121.

self through the unconventional nature presented by the three artists

explained by Morris, wish

it,

Avant -Garde

himself.

he attempts to

artists,

when he entered

Press, 1961], p. 217).

object, see

lift

seems intent on assuring his place in

the art of the '70s. perhaps unbuilt contributing

painter

very

is

of a late Cubist as well

For contemporary documentation of the declining fortunes ol

31

<"i

fast easel

much

(Greenberg, "'American-Type' Painting," Art and Culture [Boston

reactions to

articlt

3-21.

30. For a discussion of Morris's Tate retrospective and the variety of

in full:

Sirs:

We ma)

pp.

Until 1946 he stayed within an unmistakably late Cubist framework"

Beacon
worth quoting

to Robert Morris," Robert

was even true of Jackson Pollock. Clement Greenberg

acute on this point: "Pollock was very

suggested by the gradually

is

"The Ars Moriendi According

Newport Harbor Art Museum, 1986),

fix.
is

1980s (Ann

28. Kuspit,

of 'biographical' information about a

letter is so curious that it

in the

Morris: Works of the Eighties, exhibition catalogue (Newport, Calif.:

mounting exaggeration of the accounts, and the


the figure of irony.

Art

"The Art of Existence") Morns

artists" (Berger, Labyrinths, p. 103, note 10).

is

New Subjectivism:

Research Press, 1988).

taken by Berger in his otherwise

parodied the critical fixation on creative and personal expression

by devising an elaborated

UMI

Yvonne Rainer, Work 1963 73

Art and Design and

New

York:

New

(Halifax

N(

York University

I'riss.

)17.

He got

with him.

a formalized space summed them all up. and put

it

all

forth in a personalized form. Hardly responsible for that which he himself

produced afterwards, his sense of politics

and gift

at manipulation, perpetuated

this design.

He

has again done this through bis involvement with the thru

DAVID ANT1N 49

FRAMEWORKS

Annette Michelson

Mirror. screen, frame. Here are rhree structural

elements that appear and reappear, circulating through

Robert Morris's practice To chart that circulation,


locating and

denning the function

undertaken and

work

fulfilled,

would, that

It

impression

There

of a

is.

gray-painted

of

steadiness
false

recurring figure that

paradoxically, to unite the three

the labyrinth

as in the

lozenge-shaped

yrintb (1973, no. 123)

circular Labyrinth

Mask

work,

in Morris's

mofani

Auguste Rodin.

its

discontinuous enterprise.

somewhat

elements

to explicate the

and reveal

providing countertesrimonj to the

of course,

appears,

components

a task that.

is

would serve

trace

is.

of these

modes,

in their principal signifying

1974, no

and the

119), eight feel high, of

wood and Masonite. Neither

mirror.

Hanako. 1908. executed 1911.

screen, nor frame, the labyrinth, nonetheless, performs

Pate de verre, 8

inches (21.9

48.3

mimetic synthesis

of their functions,

movement

screening

in

8.9 cm). The Rodin Museum,

symmetry

Philadelphia. Gift of Jules E.

well, the intimation of dark

of a

Mastbaum.

And

these works otter, as

works

to

come,

tor the

as

Roland Barthes once remarked,

form

of

the nightmare."

however, through consideration

is.

It

mirror image.

is.

labyrinth
t\pic.il

framing and

space while offering the

proper, of

its

changing

of

"the

the frame

within continuity, that

role

one maj thread ones way through Morris's production.


To follow

it,

one begins

and forth

in

time

In 1977,

an account

ofa winters da\.

Id using
works
!),

largely,

VLasl

of a \isit, in the-

the

fading

to that sue in Philadelphia

though not

,md

mid-course, shifting back

Morns published "Fragments from

Rodin Museum,
light

08)

li

nonetheless, to re-mark, in

on three

ext lusively,

Hell (1880-191

he pauses.

long footnote, on the

Untitled (Labyrinth). 1974. Plywood and Masonite. painted.

8 feet (2.44 m) high, 30 feet (9.14 m) diameter.

Solomon

BO

lllllll

R.

Guggenheim Museum, New York, Panza

Collection.

problem generated by the incompleteness of major


projects, surrounded, as

were, by part objects of a

it

sculptural desire.

When,

Morris wants to know,

unattached component a part

when
a bust

is

fragment? (He notes,

is it

is

an unfinished or

body part

and

example, that

for

such a part, and not a fragment.) Considering

the plaster model of the Balzac within the compass


of this question,

he remarks on the absence of a

fist

and asks of a hypothetical, proximate model of such a


fist if it

would have had the status of a "fragment."

Hypothesizing further, postulating arms

in the

vicinity of an armless body, he concludes that "they

too would have been addressed as fragments of


the body

had the body not been nearby, we would

simply have 'arm fragments.

"

The meditation

continues with a question posed through the striking

image of

"a

once-whole body equally divided

though

as

by a sword from crown to crotch." Does this division,


he asks, "yield two fragments? More than likely

two halves have been produced. At what point


progressive removal of parts do

in a

we encounter
we no

the threshold, the dividing line, beyond which

longer have a figure and

its

fragment(s) >

"

Although Morris acknowledges the fragment


"a

kind

sense,

of part,"

from

may be

he sees that

which they

are, as it

as

differs, in a crucial

from a mask. The

a bust or

said, present

it

latter two,

it

an expressive autonomy through


were, framed. Fragments, on

And

the other hand, appear stripped of frame.

Auguste Rodin, The Gates of Hell. 1880-1917. Bronze,

20

Morris

remarks of a mask (presumably that of Hanako):

feet 10 '4 inches x 13 feet 2 inches x 2 feet 9

(6.37

4.01

.85 m). The Rodin

Museum.

Gift of Jules E.

Mastbaum.

Auguste Rodin,

Naked Balzac, 1892.

inches

Philadelphia,

"As though trying for those contours, those planes,


those eccentricities of shape and line, which in

themselves tread dangerously near the lump, but taken


all

together (and

how

else

can a face be taken?) catch


Plaster,

the look of the subject."


In his

own

29

Museum,

essay on Rodin, Leo Steinberg had

3
.1

in.

(75.6 cm) high. The Rodin

Philadelphia, Given by Mr. and

Mrs. Sheldon M. Gordon. Mr. Gerson Bakar

anticipated these questions. Or, rather, he had

and Mr. and Mrs. Norman Perlmutter.

approached them inversely:

// is

because of the comparative primacy given

dispensable,

explained
"because a

to

to

movement.

unmoved part of the body become


Rodin himself said as much when he
Degas why his Walking Man had no arms

gi rturt or act.

that any

man walks

on his

legs. "

This principle of

dispensability determines the limits offragmentation.

anatomy can
gesture.

But

be stripped down so long as

the dispensability rule also

criterion of judgment.

in obedience to the

Rodin tends

yields

it

An

a clear

hands us a

to spoil

a u orb when,

anatomical norm, he makes a partial

figure "complete."

Morris had begun his account of the

speaking

of his

own

visit

by

sense of entering into a "world of

ANNET1

congealment" and by evoking an insistent and ironic

The

auditory rhythm, an imaginary sound score (a

the framed framing space ot the

performing musical band), that accompanied


impression of 77

his

first

Hell In a paratactically

ordered series of notations, driven, perhaps, by


the imagined

thump and

beat of brass, he

an iconographic inventory,
its

St.

framing

cannot,

in tact,

melancholv, sorrow, despair, desire

and

as

float

and plunge within

lh//,

opening upon

view of Hell, are presented as dosed and


be opened To this matter of opening
shall return.

Experienced, however, by Morris "not as animated


clay,

but as

population melting

these figures produce in

Christ.

John, Mar) Magdalen, Bacchus, Psyche,

Orpheus. Ariadne, Ugolino, Aphrodite

roll

which, although conceived

dramatis personae with

Eill),

swim and

and closure we

offi rs

repertory of attributes, physical and moral.

Thus: "Adam, Eve (before and after the

figures

ot att.nrs existing in the

[and] sin,

[and]

down

And

molecular process has gone awry."'


in

into

..."

him the impression ot "a


first moments after sonic

another explicative footnote, to locate

state

basic

Morris pauses,
descriptive

slitherings, pulsing, throbbing, sagging, tumescent,

problem. Into what substance would this "population"

bulging, hacked, slicked, gouged, polished, ripped,

dissolve, transmute: shit, syrup, grease'

probed, kneaded, torn."

these, really

if

None

ot

figures that he will, in another text,

see as the inhabitants ot a mental space, that ot

Such are the figures that Steinberg had seen as


"coasting and rolling" as

The

"on air currents," deployed

..s

"operator,"

are. in

am

case, neither

as if "under gravitational pressures.' their

frozen nor distorted but. rather, in the process

weightlessness and "native invertibility" enabling their

melting.

and redeployment, a turn and


what Steinberg terms Rodin's "Noah's

"The

Ark." To think of these as fragments will not quite do;


rather,

we might

s.i\,

they are components

whole, elements of a vocabulary,


body,

(hiris ot

si

of a

ot a larger

discourse on the

ulptural speech, subject, perhaps, to

syntactical sanation, by turns subtle and spei

The Astronomer, 1984 Painted Hydrocal, 9


15 feet 10 inches
Virginia

nit

Museum

hob

feet 6'

2 feet 7 inches (2.91 x 4.83

of Fine Arts,

Richmond.

tat ular.

inches

.79 m).

he concludes that his

'Population melting

successive variation

return," in

And

English

e
e

ssive

Dh

down

tionar) as a

heat, or

into

is

indeed. Defined

clinker,

euic ot

linker, additionally

mass

ot

v isii

in

the

linker."

the Oxford

brk ks fused by
lava, the

and colloquially, denotes

to the

ot

verv phrase.

hardened volcanic

.1

Woukl
not. then.
Roelm Museum, and the

clinching statement or argument,

have been the

own

it

Enterprise, 1984. Painted Hydrocal,

oil

on canvas, and steel,

11 feet 9 inches x 12 feet 4 inches x 5 feet (3.58 x 3.76 x

1.52 m). Collection of the

ensuing meditation on the fragment, that produced

eschatological vision. These frames, of painted, cast

Hydrocal, are composed of

the argument or program for the works that

culminated

in

1984

in the series of paintings

artist.

known

as

swimming

or floating

forms, assembled in decorative configurations. Swarms,

nexuses of body parts, genitalia, hands,

The Burning Planet? Considering them, however, and

effluvia,

framing an answer to Morris's question, one begins

tendons, bones, skulls, cast in multiple, placed and

with a query

"Paintings?"

of another question

One

and

a reply in the

"Yes, of a sort, but of

of large dimension, to begin with.

Hydrocal,

oil

Enterprise, to
15 feet 10

on canvas, and

steel,

name two, measure 9

sort?"

Of painted

The Astronomer and


feet 6'/ ; inches

inches by 2 feet 7 inches and

9 inches by 12 feet 4 inches by 5

form

what

11

by

feet

feet, respectively.

Images of conflagration, swirls of smoke and

fire,

displaced, inverted, repeated, rotated, form the

grandiose and symmetrically designed frame that


stands in ironic tension to the pictorial representation.

The

horrific

elements

impact of the huge, heavy frames, of their

these are fragments wholly disarticulated

from any given body


in

manner

Hydrocal minimally

to the intimation of

impending global catastrophe.

This sort of painting gives, above

all,

the sense

of a displacement of the locus of signification from the


center outward, centripetally, for

it is

the startling

underlined by the manner

The frames

destruction.""

observation that a return to the Baroque seems timed

is

of what Walter Benjamin termed "an emblematics of

flaming vortices, they are seen head on, framed in a


that implies a direct articulation of Morris's

which they are recomposed into the symmetry


are dark, the painted

reflective.

were the point of departure

It is

as if the

image

for the grisly obscenity of

body fragments that have been "propelled, discharLi \\


into space," as Steinberg remarked of Rodin's
figures, and "congealed," as Morris put it, into the new
"gates" of Enterprise.

And, indeed, the

tall,

massive

frames that confer meaning upon the images within,

gates of the frames open onto the pictorial space

making of them the representations of an

catastrophe that they nominate

in a

oi

disturbance

oi

ANNETTE MICHELSON 83

ground

figure

framed

relation and, consequently, of frame

and

as an Inferno.

To understand the place


Morris's enterprise, the

such

of

manner

in

work within

which an apocalyptic

vision appears to have elicited tins radical disturbance

-fct

framing conventions, we must think

ot

within

One

is.

account

tact, led to take

and function

status

frame

of the

enabling context, historical and theoretical.

its

change

o! tile

upon the picture frames substance, dimension,


and ornamentation began

movement from Seurat

the

toward

trend toward

substantial frame

ot the

the readymade, ot the Earthwork, and.

suggested,

work such

of

fabric ot

Daniel Buren,

strategy

We

will call

it

or.

Mondrian

to

internalization. The intervention

its

color.

end within (he Modernist

to

regime. Simplification set in motion

as

the

For a tradition that had focused

the Modernist context

an evident sublation

in

frame within and beyond

of the

to Stella,

of

has been

it

as the unstretched Lengths ot

articulates another

"disframing,"

process that

eventually produces the questioning and disturbance

sp.ue and institution

ot the

was

nineteenth

proposed

freedom from convention

(he horde n of

m.K

In a

pre

re

se

<

is

is

learly

the

inserted

framing, that

of

painting

of

ment

che

ol

the pictorial mil rocosm

macrocosm within which

was

It

ol

he di fined the frame's (ask as stressing

natural

tin

a\]^\

of

laiming that the enhani

<

merel) asecondarj result

is

n> it)

rogi

ii

photograph) on

illuminated by consideration

ma

int

pn urn frame
Ik

of

elebrated text. Andre? Bazin distinguished

that of

the

relief

tr.iine

of composition

assumed,

impact

de tine (he

between these two modes


and

rail)

ntadon. that would

consequently, one's notion of the

picture frame
1

the

is

It

replacement through new conceptions

and powerful lj

to stress the

replaced In (hose which

In-

framing, and not, as gent

painting.

warns

of pictorial

both snapshot and tilm shot

In

effect ni tins

one'

the latter dee ades ot the

in

ntur\. to

displa) die wide-ranging

from

exhibition.

which traditional notions

in

composition began,

of

ol

moment, however,

For the

this that generated thi

th<

picture

Baroque

complexit) of th< traditional frame, which was


1

;ned co establish a geometrical! ) indefinable gap

between

w-

and

pii

tun and wall, chat

is.

between "painting

realit)

>

icing (In

<

an

as

ii

'prevail n<

maximal K

everyw

hi

ch<

ol

gildt d

reflective, its gilt pro\ iding "that

and of light having ol itsell no form,


pun formless colour, Bazin maintains
pi.
ok 1. mi establishes the spact of

qualit) of coloi
1

i.i

dial
i

onti

to sa)

is
si

is

te

B4

iIk

mplation

as oni

limiti d to chat within, pii corial

to bi characterized as centripetal

Rodin

The Gatet

of Hell

1880-1917

he spa<

(detail).

>i

the cinematic image

is,

on the other hand, centrifugal.

For the frame of the cinematic image can be

understood, contrary to the


a mask, excising

presumed

to

presumption, as

extend in an infinite continuum beyond

the image on screen.

and

common

from view the phenomenal world

The

spectator

as a function of the

thus positioned,

is

moving camera

repositioned in an awareness of off-screen space, of

beyond the image.

"the world"

15

This reading of the screen image was, of course,


intended to support Bazin's validation of cinema's
vocation as an instrument of representation in the

phenomenal

service of an epiphanic revelation of the

world. 16

present interest for us, however,

Its

in Bazin's intimation of the picture

heterogeneity and as gap, and the

intimation takes

lies

frame as marker of

way

which

in

this

place in a theorization of the frame

its

that culminates in Jacques Derrida's reading of Kant's

Critique of Aesthetic Judgment.

'"

For Kant views the

frame as an instance of the parergon, secondary to the

ground or

ergon, the primary, central locus, the core

or field of artistic practice and of signification. This


distinction

between parergon and ergon

is

seen to

inform the tradition of art history and of aesthetics in

we ask about
work of art. And it is these

the West, shaping the very questions that


the nature and origin of the

questions, moreover, renewed through the centuries,


that have given credence to hierarchy
to the establishment of

what Derrida

and

12 inches (243.8

teleology,

calls "a series

Untitled (Pine Portal), 1961. Laminated


x

121.9

fir,

96

48

30.5 cm).

of

oppositions (meaning/form; interior/exterior;


content/container; signified/signifier

which

art not only functions as a

ground

)" ls
.

through

system but helps to

a larger cultural semiotic.

It is for

this reason that "the philosopher

repeats this question without transforming

destroying

it

in its form, in its

who

it,

without

form of question,

its

onto-interrogative structure, has already submitted

all

19
space in the discursive arts to the voice of the logos."

And

our response to "this permanent request"

mounted by aesthetics to distinguish between a core of


meaning and context "organises all philosophical
discourse on art, on the meaning of art and on
meaning itelf from Plato to Hegel, Husserl and
Heidegger.

It

presupposes a discourse on the limit or

boundary between the inside and outside of the


object, in this case

discourse on the frame."

art

2"

The problematic nature of the border appears

not

only at the inner edge, between frame and picture,

but also at the outer edge, between frame and world.

The

surface of the parergon separates

Kant would have

it,

it

not only, as

from the body proper of the

ergon,

but also from outside, from the wall on which the


painting

is

hung.

When

seen from this perspective,

the presentation of Rodin's The Gates of Hell as closed


redirects the parergonal function of these frames toward

that of the ergon: the container

the extrinsic

made

is

thus contained,

intrinsic.

ANNETTE MICHELSON 55

One

could

then, with Bazin, that the border

say.

presents a problematic ambivalence corresponding to

what he termed "the geometrically indefinable space"


between picture and wall such that our notion of
the extrinsic and intrinsic, of what

frame and what

is

framed, can be thereby questioned.

is

this

It is

questioning, sustained over three decades in Morris's

"frameworks," that here concerns us.


have elsewhere claimed that Morris's work of the

1960s was driven by a willed transgression


Untitled (Williams Mirrors). 1977
mirrors, each

84

Williams College

96 inches (213.4

Museum

Twelve
x

243.8 cm).

of Art. Wllliamstown.

decorum imposed by

ol the

the doxa of Modernist sculpture's

shall now go on co sav that it initiated


and disturbance of presuppositions

"opticality."

a questioning

frame) that eventually

(in this case, regarding the

generated the "clinkers" or Tbt Burning Planet

series.

the continuity of this questioning that confirms

It is

manner

one's earlier view of the

assumed
Marcel

from

which Morns

in

the beginning, under the aegis of

Duchamp and

with

a special

resolution

the

philosophical task that, in a culture not committed,

on the whole,

to speculative thought, devolves with a

upon

particular stringency

occasion to observe that

And

An

in this

the question that arises

Untitled (Fiberglass Frame), 1968. Translucent


fiberglass,

243.8

New

72

96

18

47 cm). Solomon

inches (182.9

R.

Guggenheim Museum,

York, Panza Collection.

Pine Portal

1961

as an instance of Morris's

what drives

is:

this trend'

ol Morris's

This work

correctly

is

ulpturaJ concern w

st

human body

the proportions of the

has

to include the following:

no. 8).

One

he was not quite alone.

account, by no means complete,

frameworks would have

- '

its artists.

course,

>t

ited

ith
it

also

functions as frame.

-Barrier

-A

1966

works made

L968

to

among other works ol

(no. 15),

class ol

(for

1962.

in the- pivotal years

example, Quarter-Round Mesb

1966, no. 89]) presents structures that otter

visibility,

DO

with

maximal

pans, surfaces, and joinings open

all

lew.

Fiberglass Prami

1968, no. 16),

fiberglass, with us

opening up

work

ol

translucent

the frame's inner

ol

edge

- Two works

aluminum

in

(nos

6),

both untitled,

that, by virtue ol their height (respet lively,

and 60 inches)

and frame

surt.u is

maximum visibility

ofrei

ol

66
parts and

floor spat

- Mirrored Cubt r (1965,

no. 66), the startling

work

was

initiating a scrus of catoptrit ventures Morris


renevi frequently, as in

\\

tllianu \iirron

Mirrored Cubes absorbs and


Barrier, 1962. Painted plywood, 79
ties

(200.7

228.6

30.5 cm)

90

the exhibition spat

us

id

rt

e for

shifts,

'"*"7
,

to

no. 134)

frames and reframes,

the mobile spec tator, even as

tive suit.u is obst ure

ontour, edge, or border.

h was with Pirn Portal chat the problematization


ol

che frame was initiated

object thai

the

/)

inn

don

lere

sculpture or frame

model provided

Ban
I

is

l>\

Ins

si

in

11

o 111-

111

Mur

begins by noting
Bridt Stripped

23) for the framing

on- in us environing space (as

other works bj Morris and chose

56

freestanding

One

Duchamp's Tin

Het Bachelors, Etvn(1915


ni

is a

ol

other .mists

in

ol Ins

One

generation).

of the work's

notes, as well, the proleptic character

title,

which, in this early variation on the

gate, solicits the spectator's passage through

it

Pine Portal

is

first

work

to

be considered

must be understood in relation


counterstatement composed within

in isolation. Rather,
to Barrier, a

it

same mode of address to the spectator, but articulated


through a structure designed to impede passage.

the

These two

objects,

variations,

couched

made

In Atlantic (1967),

Snow made

work of special

interest in relation to this discussion of Morris's

rethinking of the frame. In this piece, thirty

position.

not, however, a

and

transformation.

from

position of observer, to that of object framed, before

the eventual return to

angle, effects of fragmentation, disorientation,

a year apart,

in the dialectic of

photographs of the sea are

deep

set, in

recess, within a

thirty-unit grid, a primary structure of highly polished

sheet metal, so that the images are reflected in the four

compose the obtruding frame of each

surfaces that

photograph. The result

is

the superimposition of one

form a pair of

continuous, flooding image that

approach and

framing function of the grid. Here, the ergonal status

upon the frame as freestanding sculptural


They challenge, respectively, by solicitation

image

of the

object.

size, scale, surface reflectiveness,

and obstruction, conventions of Modernist sculpture

but annuls the

challenged by a frame dynamized by

avoidance,

is

all

Snow's project

and tridimensionality.

invoked as a major instance of

is

regarding spectatorial and sculptural space.

work upon the frame, which

Additionally and crucially, their collapse of ergon and

under the dual influence of Duchamp and John


Cage, both of whom developed models for formal and

parergon within the single freestanding object


represents, in

its

simplicity, a radical intervention in

The

work in Hydrocal, picture frames such as


those of Enterprise and The Astronomer, will require
extremity of scale and baroque sculptural complexity
to produce their very different effects of shock and
irony in relation to the pictorial field. These effects,
however, are indissociable from the force and clarity
with which the parergonal problematic is thereby
made manifest.
that is, through scale and complexity
They extend the work begun by Pine Portal and
Barrier, the interrogation of "the discourse upon the
frame" that marks Morris's enterprise as philosophical
later

That Morris was not alone


is

in his problematization of

strongly evident

of contemporaries;

it is,

to

particularly interesting case

Snow,
also

who

we look

if

in fact,

work upon the frame seems

at the

work

during the 1960s that

expand and
is

own

to Morris's

installations, Earthworks, drawings,

and written

texts,

as well as to his sustained production of sculpture

and the painting


is

which he returns,

to

insistently transgressive in

or boundaries of the single

We

its

movement

that

disregard of the limits

medium.

will want, accordingly, to inquire as to the

impulse behind

this

movement and,

as a first step in

that direction, to consider what, in particular, drives

work on the frame. In so doing we return to


way of a detour through filmtheory issues and definitions, for recent developments
have complemented the foregoing theorization of
Morris's

under the aegis of Duchamp, a related project,

mediums

inscription

its

of desire."

first

question regarding a subjectivity-effect of

has been asked, should the use of

Why,

uncommon

it

framings

more

or angles be held, as indeed they are, to be

strongly expressive of subjectivity than the

film,

photography, sculpture, installation works, musical

Snow's project, which continues to develop, begins

with Window (1961), Portrait (1967), and Blind (1967).

epitomized in two epoch-making films, Wavelength

La

the cinematic frame with an account of

cinematic technique can set us on our path.

performance.

It is

relates as well, in its shuttling

involvement in performance and film, to his acoustical

to intensify.

that of Michael

undertook, in the early years of the decade,

elaborated across the various

(1967) and

it

between forms of articulation,

the work of the 1980s by

in its thrust.

the frame

modes of framing, disframing,

institutional

and reframing. But

the field of sculptural practice.

intensified in the 1960s

Region centrale (1974), in which the

more commonly employed angles, those closer


horizontal plane and, one might add, closer to
traditional pictorial conventions?

uncommon

We

to the

do know that the

angle sharpens the spectator's awareness

of what has tended to be overlooked, the identification

with the camera, with the author's viewpoint. For

Bazinian polarities of spatiality (pictorial centripetality

ordinary framings are not experienced as such, while

and

"the uncommon angle reawakens me


me what already know.' Through

filmic centrifugality) are explored through radical

deployment of the optical tracking shot


instance and computerized camera

second. 25

8x70

in the first

movement

in the

(1969), described as "an essay on the

multitude of ambiguities that can be generated by


one framing device in a grid pattern,"'
eighty

still

is

composed of

photographs of a frame subjected to the

displacement of a camera that produces, through

framing and through lighting and variation of

its

and

teaches

change

of angle,

then, the spectator becomes directly aware of his or

her

own place as spectator within the mi marie


One could, therefore, claim that the typii
(

event.

fetishistic position of the


("I

know

all

the same

disavowing spe<

very well [that this


.

,"
.

is

is

qualified,

tati

ally

only a film) but

undermined,

ii

only

momentarily.

ANNETTE MICHELSON 57

To Bazin's insight
(grounded as

as to die (unction of the

Frame

phenomenological method), more

in

it is

recent film scholarship has thus brought the

psychoanalytically informed sense

upon the edges

plays

censorship

the inherent!)

of

cinemas framing device. Film

erotic valence of the

of the frame,

invoh ing

the placing and displacing of a boundary

that bars the look, that puts an end to the


thus, produces an e\c nation of desire
that, despite

seen."

It,

sense

in this

is

It

austerity with respect to narrative

its

and. most generally, to

human

presence. Snow's film

work may be

said to be essentially erotic.

cinema, with

its

"The waj

wandering framings wandering

the

like

the look, like the caress), finds the means to reveal

something

space has

do with

to

kind

undressing, a generalised strip-tease,


perfected strip-tease, since

makes

also

it

remove from

to dress space again, to

ot

permanent

a less

lew

but more
possible

it

what

it

has

previously shown, to take back as well as to retain.


1

then,

re.

[(

is

rethinking

the

of

inematic

frame that acknowledges the intensit)

accommodation, through
formal development,
looking.

of film's

technical potential and

its

of "scoptophilia," or

pleasure in

thereby, sets in motion an analysis of the

It,

frame that complements both the phcnomcnologu


based inquiry

moreover, help to

will,

It

work on

of Morris's

or the cast

arm

symboli<

example

(In

tram

Morris's

Others

the-

<

ntral role

moves from the

it

corj

Enh

[ydrocaJ of

while the

of

>

las in

to that of

inema, as

in

represents one- privileged


to

problemati/ation within

to entertain a

is

rprisi

work on the frame,

ot its

expressive of

full)

lantv

Snows work,

meaning

(insider the

illation. For

of

among

instance
(

the frame as

and material representation

register of formal

Pan Portal

alls

Bazin and Derridian interrogation.

ot

ieu ol film as

general, sustained, and

multidirectional transgression, Fueled b) thescopii


drive, of the boundaries, the

Michael Snow, 8 x 10, 1969. Three

llll.l \ \

of eighty. Private collection.

subjei

is,

ike

its

instance of the symbolii pU


i

it

is the ant u

.nit

In

express thei
i

In

jo)

muc

simple

soon be abli to go to
which have hitherto been

who

revealed

i.i

bj w.i\

ft

l"

i>i

in iosii\

hildn

everything

set

to

us source, he

oi

uriosity, whit

was no doubt originall)

li

is

sexual desire

din cted towards sexual happenings and


K on

waj going to

joj

pleasure in looking,

In

in this

to look

espet

analysis of tins

In

girls.

thai the) will

prohibited and will be allowed to


i

minded

reputed often to

ngagt d

theatre, to all the plays

I'uistmir

As an

looking, Freud

in

pa (ion von id b\

oming

is

to the

counterpart exhibitionism,

H stru turn and transformation

to

rami work, that which

li

Scoptophilia

black and white photographs from a sequence

which was once forbidden

oil limits, that

ii

i>>

thi

the girls'

.illusion ioi
is,

as Freud

toward

p. units

in tins

ihr.un became an obvious substitute,

thi

it

being married

Tins

pointed out, regularl) directed


parents' sexual

life;

il

is

an

l>\

infantile curiosity and, so far as

persists later, an

it still

instinctual impulse with roots reaching far back.

Despite the general repression and sublimation

know about

later exacted (and the child's desire to

the

sexual organs and processes, not just to see them,


is

an indication of restraint already imposed),

evident, as Karl

of scoptophilia,

phenomena owe

it is

Abraham proposed in his own study


that many important psychological
their origin in part to this process.

Among them would

be the impulse toward

investigation, observation of nature, pleasure in travel.

To these he adds "the impulse towards

artistic-

treatment of things perceived by the eye" and "the


desire for knowledge."'
It is

the conjunction of these latter two aspects

of scoptophilia that forms the core of Freud's study of

Leonardo da Vinci," his inquiry into the dynamics


of the incessant, lifelong, gnostic pursuit across

mediums, techniques, and

disciplines

the artist in his Notebooks.

It is,

form

documented by

in fact, this

sublimated

of desire, the "epistemophilia," or desire for

knowledge, which

is

indissociable from scoptophilia,

that

we may understand

field

within which Morris's recurrent meditation

upon the frame

as generating the semiotic

his material, textual,

and symbolic

re-enactment of disframing and reframing


place.

It is

takes

the field within which Morris's textual

production, his theoretical work, singular within his


artistic

generation for

its

acuteness and steadiness,

is

produced. Morris's view of Rodin's The Gates of Hell,


in sharp contrast with Steinberg's, extends the line of

Orson Welles, Citizen Kane, 1941.


black-and-white 35

mm

Still

from

film. Private collection.

analytic manifestos produced in the 1960s, the

period of his Minimalist work.

The

discussion in his

essay "Notes on Sculpture" of strong gestalt or unitary-

type forms, for example, was directed at the logic of

Carl Dreyer,

35

mm

Joan

of Arc, 1928.

Still

from black-and-white

film. Private collection.

.59

related parts that characterized "retardataire Cubist

kind

aestheti

infini:.

1962 (the year

In

Pnn

after

made

Portal), Morris

of

open

frame his photograph,

to

in all

length, "naked and

lull

relation,

work

irris's

n does not.

grounded production that concerns me here. Such


consideration would take account ot the precedents
in

nude, in Francis Picabia's

performance
Si

among

Belle Haleine,"

The

set,

and

to

claim that

pt of

it is

irttn

tntaneousm

and sculpture

ernist

defeat theatre.

censoriousness of this assault signals that the

a transgressive

symbolic articulation

ot desire.

channel and as

And

'

both his practice and

theonzation,

its

and

level

the individual work.

in relation to

The contusion

is

such was

undoubtedly the case both on the most general

others

necessary condition of Morris's enterprise, the

feasibility of

u ant

indeed perceived as

in

Rrose Selavy and

of

The

of

introduction of temporality into spectatorship was

(in the

photography, through the personae

to be for.

u irth noting that the concept

it is

of their pn

painting

awaits fuller study in relation to the voyeuristically

once again by Duchamp,

<..

attention directed a:

dimension

performance and photography that

in

rt

implies temporality in the form of con tint

one manifestation,

is

ot that exhibitionist

to see

H-.

it

single, infinitely br:.

andfullness,

depth

its

convinced by

grinning. "" This work, which plays upon the

among many,

.icute.

would be long enough

l-B x (no. 25), whose letter-shaped door swings

om

instantaneousness: as though if only

realms," driven by the impulse

of

between Supposedl)

inscribed, from the beginning, in the openings

to dissolve the limits

effected within artistic production and

autonomous mediums such as sculpture and theater,


was promulgated within the single sculptural object by

reception by

its

the powerful challenge, issued in the 1960s, to the

Modernist doxa

agonistic ethos (the either/or of

its

Abstract Expressionism) and

Cage,

by

impelled, by the sound

the dictate

movement analogous

in a

tradition had

of his heart,

Duchamp's, broken

to

and the strong

through

scale, neutrality ol surface,

gestalt ol his Minimalist structures

framed the Sculptural work.

was

It

musical tradition to embrace and frame,

sponsoring that "co-presence" within

in a spirit ol

These

radical ecumenicity, thai \.im found object, the

in

which

ace

[aimed and

field

iii

operations,

In tins latitudinarian

Modernist

limati

to a

'I

performance

nfusion of realms, th< emei

art

and of Minimalist sculptun wen linked Fbrnotonlj


were mirror, frame, and

|<

in-

differing

the

ould understand the


onfigurations

laum

issauli

tin

rformam
in sui h

forms

!-3)oi Stadiun

main

is

'

ni a

desperate

apparatus

il

ol a

studies,

Mod(

rnist

a
i

fi

ns<

movem<

ishization ol

nt

bj

ided artistii

oi

in de< line,

in its

tnes

prai ttct

hus, th<

inn d as

in In

is

in

ralized

ol

an

interrelated gestures,

construed, not

acknowledgment of a
onsummatt Ij

thus requires the

rot

izai ion, in a

ii

ol

<

an entire bod)

ol

work.

harai

Rosenstiehl

ch<

["he

DodA

sd< dali

In Prtiscof Heuristi

Robert Morris,

Fragments from

thi

Rodin Museum, "..'>. no

Symbolist

to deal with

newal of ti mporally

pol

system

di

installations,

theatrii ality" thus

orthodox] unequipped

olj morphii

and other

this held

ot tins projei

mi.

ol that project

performance, film, acoustical

as constitutive ot a field that

sublimated form,

ritit aJ

have postulated as

symptomatica!!) but semioticall) The hermeneutk

as

no

recognize tins

and positions generated by the epistemophilic

dim And

works

196

installation, mirror

i-e

dism and

asp

works,

<

in

li>

mails mir understanding

be coherentlj read as

(inn

ill

d by

h<

stablishn

had

p(

nt

ol th(

/
lllptural pi ffoi

s(

ami
i

see as sustaining that

the frame that

ot

us multiple forms

earthworks

n enlisted as material

rei

ins within Morris's iilms

but one

as

si

of sculptural produ< tion, textually

nee essaril)
in

theorized

ol

central to Morris's project,

promisi uous

"),

united spaa

and transgressions, sustained and

onfirmed we maj now

whi< h app< an

establishment as

riti< a]

nee

problematizing

wider

infinitely

more subtle and complex.

a logi<

pra<

ent< rprise

Modernism an

tenet oi high

intr.n tions

extended through three decades

leared a space

and method, newly

task, discipline, material,

hi artistii

(a basic

ti

riz<

Ibid

Rodin,

"i

objt ct

bj

,,,

rM (New York:

in

htfbrd

u. .in Hi.

Rodin Musi

urn,

'in
continuous andentin
the perpetual creation

80 loo

pn

tentni

oj itself,

ts,

this

spectator and sculptural object (the latter understood


as not less important but as "less u//-important

infraction that was to guarantee the "co-presence" ol

through the formal and institutional constraints of

World. In so doing,

and

of that barrier of virtual space within which critical

in the

Harvard University's anachok chamber,

silence of

had,

epiphany granted him

response to the

in

Morris's violation

proscriptive aesthetic.

its

disc rete

amounting,

that on

./>

//

/.

from

./

\i

...

i.

inn

.1

il"

cot oniidi
i

Rodin
nil

Mum

urn,'

in

"Thru

Folds in the Fabric and Four Autobiographical Asides as Allegories


(or Interruptions),"

in

America 11 (November 1989), pp. 142-51.

"Fragments from the Rodin Museum,"

10. Morris,

11.

Art

and Objecthood," Artforum (June

1967), reprinted in Battcock, p. 146.

The metaphysical presuppositions

that inform this view are analyzed in Michelson, "Robert Morris

p. 3-

thorough reading of these works, of the manner

theatre," see Michael Fried, "Art

in

which they

manifest a return to the Baroque as response to the threat of catastrophe

and

suggests, indeed, their function as Trauerwerke, for which the

Creuzer's "Mythologie," in The Origin of German Tragic Drama,

of analysis

century
Tragic

is

provided by Walter Benjamin

German drama.

Drama,

trans.

12. Buren's place

me
13.

New

John Osborne (London:

Left Books, 1977).

helpful critical

Hugh Gray

whom am

with Rosalind Krauss, to

indebted for

What

in

Is

its

claim to "presentness," see Benjamin's discussion of Friedrich

pp. 163-67.
38.

There

exists a philosophical tradition, that of

Lacanian extension, within which time

is

Hegelianism and

its

linked to desire. For

explication of the Hegelian source, see Alexandre Kojeve, Introduction


the

Reading of Hegel: Lectures on

the

to

Phenomenology of Spirit, assembled by

Raymond Queneau, ed. Allan Bloom, trans. James H. Nichols, Jr.


NY.: Cornell University Press, 1969), especially "A Note on

comment.

Andre Bazin, "Painting and Cinema,"

trans.

study of sixteenth-

in his

See Walter Benjamin, The Origin of German

within this development has been pointed out to

in conversation

more than one

model

An

Aesthetics of Transgression," pp. 19-23. For an analysis of the symbol

Cinema?,

(Ithaca,

(Berkeley: University of California Press, 1967),

Eternity,

pp. 164-69.

Time, and the Concept: Complete Text of the

First

Two

Lectures of the Academic Year 1938-1939," pp. 100-49.

14. Ibid., p. 128.

39- Sources for the concept of sculptural "virtual" space include Chapter

15. Ibid.

6 of Suzanne Langer's Feeling and Form

16. For an analysis of this aspect of Bazin's ontology of cinema, see

1953); Bruno

Annette Michelson, "What

and Adolf Hildebrand's The Problem of Form

Is

Cinema?" Artforum

10 (summer

6, no.

1968), pp. 67-71.

trans,

17. Jacques Derrida,

"The Parergon,"

m Painting,

The Truth

in

trans.

Geoff Bennington and Ian McLeod (Chicago: University of Chicago

and

rev.

Adnam's

(New York: Macmillan, 1977;


(New York, 1943);

Problem of the Sculptor

in Painting

with the author's cooperation by

and Sculpture,

Max Meyer and

Robert Morris Ogden (New York, 1907).


40. See Morris, "Notes on Sculpture," p. 234.

16-147.

Press, 1987), pp.


18. Ibid., p. 22.
19. Ibid.

20. Ibid., p. 45. Italics are in the original.


21. Bazin, "Painting and Cinema," p. 165.
22. See Annette Michelson, "Robert Morris

An

Aesthetics of

Transgression," in Robert Morris, exhibition catalogue (Washington,

D.C.: Corcoran Gallery of An, 1969), p. 39.


23. Ibid., p. 7.
24. Maurice Berger, Labyrinths: Robert Morris, Minimalism,

(New York: Harper and Row,


25.

have discussed these films

Snow," Artforum

9, no.

in

some

detail in Michelson,

"Toward

10 (June 1971), pp. 2442; and "About Snow,"


1-25.

October, no.

8 (spring 1979), pp.

26. Dennis

Young, "Origins and Recent Work,"

and the 1960s

1989), p. 49.

1 1

in Michael Snow:

Survey, exhibition catalogue (Toronto: Gallery of Ontario

and the

Isaacs Gallery, 1970), unpaginated.

27. Recent psychoanalytically informed film theory

pioneering study by Christian Metz, The Imaginary


Britton, et

al.

is

indebted to the

Signifier, trans.

Celia

(Bloomington: University of Indiana Press, 1982). In the

following discussion of the framing process,

have drawn,

in particular,

on pp. 54-55 and 75-77.


28. Ibid., p. 55.
29- This statement of disavowal

is

formulated by Octave Mannoni in

Clefs pour I'imaginaire ou I'autre scene ([Paris: Editions

du

Seuil, 1969],

pp. 933) as epitomizing the fetishist's position defined on the basis


of

Sigmund

Freud's 1927 essay "Fetishism." This latter essay

published in Sigmund Freud, Collected Papers, vol.

(New York:

5, ed.

is

James Strachey

Basic Books, 1959), pp. 198-204. This formulation,

although not uncontested, has gained fundamental status and

widespread currency

in the theorization of

cinematic spectatorship.

30. Metz, The Imaginary Signifier, p. 77.


31.

Sigmund Freud,

Library, vol.

1,

ed.

Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis, Pelican

James Strachey and Angela Richards,

trans.

Freud

James

Strachey (London: Penguin Books, 1978), p. 258.


32. Ibid.
33- Karl
in

Abraham, "Restrictions and Transformations of Scoptophilia

Psycho-Neurotics; with Remarks on Analogous Phenomena in Folk-

Psychology," in Selected Papers, trans. Douglas Ryan and Alix Strachey

(New York:

Brunner, Mazel, 1979), pp. 169-234.

34. Freud, Leonardo da Vinci

and a Memory

Strachey, trans. Alan Tyson

(New York: Norton,

35. Morris,

of His Childhood, ed.

James

1964).

"Notes on Sculpture," Artforum 4, no. 6 (February 1966),

reprinted in Minimal Art:

(New York: Dutton,

Critical Anthology, ed.

Gregory Battcock

1968), pp. 222-28.

36. Berger, Labyrinths, p. 36.

37. For this passage, followed by a statement of "the need to defeat

ANNETTE MICHELSON

WALL LABELS: WORD, IMAGE,


AND OBJECT IN THE
WORK OF ROBERT MORRIS

The appearance of Robert Morris's work in a major


Guggenheim retrospective ought, one would think, to
settle the question of his status. The label "Major
Artist" may now be safely inscribed over the entrance
to the exhibition, and the works may be safely labeled
no matter how unprepossessing they

as masterpieces,

may

look. All that remains

work

in a

is

the packaging of Morris's

him

canonical history that will position

of his objects

provided by post-Strut ruralist theories of

aluminum) could hardly have been predicted from


his pre\ ions work. Those who had defined Morns
as a practitioner within specific mediums had grown
used to labeling him as a sculptor, and (.more

my

wall label disturbed

entwined
eyes.

was

It

Have

in

my

dreams begin

words

in

my

my

by bringing out his early exercises in

On

the negative side, he wax

The

merely being an eclectic

(as so otte-n before) of

of

prevailing fashion.

large encaustic paintings, with their enigmatic

lie

were seen as belated attempts to

xts,

te

capitalize

on

fashion tor image u\i composites

the-

pioneered by younger American artists in the

get up edgy.'

reaction ot critics to this

experimentalist and imitator

ste in

as the insomniac poet said.

responsibility,

of warning?

over

itself

as

was predictable. There was. on

to painting

Abstract Expressionism. 4

art.

wrapped

The

to those- of painting."

a painter

to threatening proportions,
ear,

medium

saw his

not only distinct but hostile

the positive side, a rush to certit\ his credentials as

the terms

a tangled, suffocating shroud of seething


in

had a dream

grew

It

around me, babbled

itself

dream. But

sleep.

who

importantly) as a sculptor
expressing concerns

accused
The

Mitchell

T.

slutt

Modernism and post-Modernism,

in the context-, of

and unpack the meanings

W.J.

late

1980s
a tribute to

It is

both the intransigence of the

viewing public and the

Mornss

resilience- of

art-

My own insomnia

art

that the packaging, labeling, and securing ot both

Work and

the

the works

not likely to pn>< eed

is

untroubled. More than any American artist


generation.

Morns

oeuvre) has

managed

and

classify,

had

(considered as the

hardly do better than Morris

about Ins work,

working across

artistic

all

it

is

too

mirror to the

a in

yet,

it

one

mi.

work both

Morris's
Ii

nding

toany

itself to

singli

Ii

and

invites

Modern
si

j'Jr

visual
t

hi

.hi.

rhere

look

ot

\.i

work

in-,

made

in v<

labels

si

that look like

Holocaust paintings [nos

drawings [nos
drawings; the
a

.'

UK KOMI

i.

in

II

147
\n\

Mill

>

18];

ttigaliom

obje<

ii

an-.

ii.

verbal
se

image

or

program

|iist

as a

n>

will look

it

of

the

Moms

with the

behind" the

lor the objet is.

language,

ot art itself as

omplex interset
and tin- palpable

.ii

..ii.

wuli

ike

ha

tion

a settled

causi

anxiety, -^^l disruption

a site "i play,

do not know what

W(

i.i

In

and consequence

lain ling, ilu

problem

of

ol

Mums
v

isual style,

is

the difficulty

mustering an adequate,

Ins

language

foi

work

.vall

label disturbed

my

sleep.

raises

It

i
i

and

no consistent

offers

late

>1]

te list

inn. h less authoritative, des< riptive

149

set

har.u

that lies

alloldmg or prop

without

paintings on

whole

writing and Ins an this intersection

in Ins

Inn as

is.
la.

luoks

monumental paint ings


145
16] and Firestorm

drawings [nos

In

Morris

the third series of Blind

boundary between words and images, wools and

of

room, no way

His turn in the

an unusually large

has consistently been staged, not as

artistit

nis to appeal

ot a

art. as a theoretic al

Accordingly,

'a

want to

such an apt representative

he- is

ot the- seeable, the sayable,

nuns

identify

toss a

which

ot the- objet

lii

with any certainty what his new work

1981
thi

at

e>t

Mornss work and

but also with the exploration

lab

individual

no way to

appearand from

inviting ready

ill'

is

internal to

elaboration

ulpture,

01 si\le

resists

is,

reflects a

it

has consistently been engaged not

thegenerii labels endemii topost Modernism, whili


refusing th< overall label of th<

Rather,

era tor

nition in

ii

management

the-

art ot its

onceptual

Morns

labeling

of

the slutting relation of art and language

imposites, Pro ess works) without


use-It

concerned with

ot issues

art, land art, scattei pieces, felt

Ah, there's the

of supplements.

and diverse oeuvre

artist

works, painting, drawing, photography, readymades,

committing

excrescence, a

institutional

mere supplement 7

representative,

the genres of post

(Minimalist

prai tie*

performance

that

rat t, is

merely holds up

it

An

suggest, not merely a pragmatic orcuraton.il issue

)ne of the complaints

Beware

The problem

to

period of the 1960s to the 1990s, one could

lor the

tunc-,

rub.

terminology of

American

"representative"

<

What have previously ignored, not wished

wall label?

of a total

movements, and periods And

to produi

that

of Ins

name

begins.

A mere

blurt of public relations jargon, a

remain unpredictable, hard

to

difficult to label in the

styles, artistic

to think about?

essed status

annoyance

slithers

ai

and

linguistii

blurb

coils in the

Mi

tin-

Insomniac's cold

ambiguous ducat, refusing

litis institutional,

shadows.

It

tautological

begins to grow larger

"

than the works proper

in

my dream

Dadaism, Surrealism, and

galleries; a snarling, looming,

From
This difficulty with labeling

Modern

consistently been labeled as the exploration of a

new

between art and language. Modernism


Clement Greenberg's classic formulation

its

art, especially abstract

Museum

at

of

Modern

Art.

and textuality from the

of art, which has, after

the visual arts.

field of

not surprisingly, has been defined as

the negation of this negation, "an eruption of language


into the aesthetic field."

From

Krauss

calls a "will to silence,

moved

goes)

what Rosalind

we have

history.

foil for his

would have

depurification

and

elite

dethroning of the notion of the

moment

artist as the creator

of an original image, a novel visual gestalt that bursts

and

and original image, post-Modernism

has offered pastiche, appropriation, ironic allusion,

an art addressed to spectators

who

are

more

be puzzled than dazzled, and whose thirst


Like
is

all art-historical

is

to

master narratives,

whose

actor, writer

and

who want

pictorialist

and expressive tendencies of

formal abstraction, there

is

no doubt that

and

this tradition in its search for purity

Duchamp,

it

its

Minimalist visual

continued
aesthetic

art,

Minimalism

of Steve

artist.

'

of art.

It is,

not the mass media, provides the model for

the hybrid visual/verbal character of his objects:


It

"One

foot in images, the other in language, this

is

the least immediate and most discursive form of


in

must be
reckoned with, even by those who want to resist them,

or

United

However much Minimalism may have departed

the appropriate musical setting for Morris. Marcel

this

which Morris himself has contributed,

both as narrator and

after the

in the

Reich or Philip Glass. John Cage's "silence" provides

frame the production and reception

short, a story

Modernist abstraction

decorative, patterned musical

myth, a compound of half-truths and

a story to

we

II,

between mass

especially sculpture, seems quite antithetical to the

likely to

for visual

oversimplifications that, nevertheless, has a certain

power

to

purist avant-garde at

and times, both before and

of high

elitism. In this respect,

pleasure often seems deliberately thwarted.

one

States.

from the

artistic "seer"

fixate the spectator. In the place of this

art of the purified

of

culture takes on a variety of other forms

in other places

formed from the mind of the

most

for

moment around World War

to notice that this dialectic

of artistic opticality has been accompanied by a

to dazzle

been impure

broadly considered. If Greenberg's kitsch became the

impure negative

and

that either couple the visual and the verbal or erase the

fully

all,

more nuanced view, finally, would have


address the ways in which the cults of both visual
its

a certain cultural

The

im.

like the restoration of a basic condition

speechifying, characterized by impure, hybrid forms

difference between image and text.

language

of

less transgress

transformations in visual and textual culture more

(so the story

to an art of noise, discourse,

The "eruption

purity and visual/verbal hybridity intersect with

a gridlike art of

"purity" and opticality, expressing

painting, from

might seem

into the aesthetic field"

and look more

art,

and

temporary

like a

European context into the purified spaces of the

sought to evacuate language, literature, narrative,

Post-Modern

more

aberration, an interlude associated with the removal of

reflects a central

obsession of post-Modernism, which has itself

least in

work of the various

this standpoint, the cult of visual purity

the will to silence might look

moreover, not

is,

simply a problem with Morris but

relation

in the

other historical avant-gardes)."

hypnagogic presence.

art-making."

historical effects

to situate this story in relation to

more nuanced histories. A


frame, for instance, would ask us

Now am awake,

yet the label refuses to shrink. Here beneath the dim

lamp

its

rectangulanty

larger, longer, or

larger

threatens. This blot of

historical

to consider

to a

menacing

seems

to pulsate,

its

language groans and

words screeches and sobs and

tell-tale tick

of

mumbling under the

finally

recedes

floor boards.

the relation of this (mainly American) story of art to

The

the fortunes of American culture in the era of the

War and the nuclear nightmare, a period that, at


very moment of this retrospective, seems now to

Cold
the

be clearly "behind"

us, replaced

by the quite different

concerns of a post-nuclear, post-Cold

War "New

World Order," and the

capitalism as

world system.

final victory of

is

sculpture.

seem

post-Modernism was not already


basic forms in early European

0C<

urring in

about

the one hand, one

is

and

label,

Minimalist

of

confronted

deliberately

What can
What

or Box say to us?


them.-'

The

labels

ts

inexpressive," "deadpan,"

seem

objei
i

is

labeled Slab,

an w< possibly

to say

it

all, to

s.i\

exhaust

the object and the visual experienci ofth< obj

its

Modernism (notably

On

and "inarticulate."

longer view would ask whether

the changing relation of art and language central in

and language. obje<

by simple, spare, elemental, usually "untitled" obje<


that

relation of art

one of the principal paradoxes

in

The whole

situation ol

Minimalism seems designed

.1

to

MITCHKI.I. 63

defeat the notion ot the "readable" work

of art,

understood as an intelligible allegory, an expressive


symbol, or

On

coherent narrative.

Minimalism

the other hand.

often characterized as an unprecedented

is

intrusion by language
theoretical language

especially anneal

and

into the traditionally silent

space of the aesthetic object. As Harold Rosenberg put


it:

"No mode

to

it

has ever had more labels affixed

in art

by eager literary collaborators.

No

has

art

mure dependent on words than these works

ever been

pledged to
to see, the

silent materiality.

more there

The

there

less

is

Even worse than the

to saj

is

and the chatter of the ever-

"literary collaborators'

helpful intus. according to Rosenberg,

the fact that

is

became

the Minimalist artists themselves

writers. All

the traditional divisions ot labor in the art language

game were confused. The mute, inarticulate


sculptor, who was supposed to make infinitely
Card
file

File

1962. Metal and plastic wall

mounted on wood, containing

four index cards,

(68.6
d'Art

26.7

27

x 5.1

10'

cm).

<

forty-

2 inches

Musee

expressive images tor the delectation ol the infinitely


receptive (and articulate) aesthete, has been replaced

by the articulate sculptor

who makes mute

objects

National

puzzled beholder.

tor a

Moderne. Centre Georges

Pompidou. Pans.
Then with a certain trembling
"mere

me, there

strikes

it

no such thing as a

is

my

The phrase ratchets through

wall label."

feverish brain.

This label, this mutter of slurred information has a secret ambition.

doubt about

there on the wall.

from

aim

its

it,

is

hysteria begins to erode the encaustic

Its linguistic

my

panels.

In

one sense, (his paradox has now been

prematurely resolved by institutional


canonization

Minimalism, the

oi

the succession

in

these mute obje<

seem

tull ci

those

lor

The

art history.

fixing ol

Libel

its

twentieth century styles, has now

ol

made

ts.

once so strange and

silent,

memorable asso<. tation and anecdote


he know Tin writings and conversation
mOSI

.inisis.

ol th<

No

my images

nothing less than dominating

"the must

Morris

tlOtablj ol

subtle ol the Minimalist dialecticians," according to

Rosenberg
w

i.i

now become inseparable from


know ledue.ihle beholder but

havt

the experieiu

the

e ot

who walks

about the ignorant beholder, the on<

Minimalism

as

,i

disappointment
tins shoi k

is

museum

shot k ol

and experiences
deprivation and

\\i

even

into the gallery or

an'i

something

cold,

<

onsoli oursi

thai

Ivt s

Like that ol the original

puzzled beholdei (for example, Rosenberg) in the


Knott. 1963. Painted wood and hemp
rope,

40

'

lies

(13.7 x

8.9 cm) The Detroit Institute

1960s, because thi context now


jurj
nt

is

canonical labeling

It

s.iv

in

on you, not on
UK

to th

availabilit)

nd

The wall

label

or at least

in

.ii

ii

hi

z.i

ion in

has disturbed

on the

label.

viewei now

nt

,i

my

What

works

thi

these works?

>>i

authoritj

thi

you don't gel the point,

of A-'

judgmi

Do

sleep.

must squeeze

hai

is

i\n

ol labels

must get a
it

back

to

it!

it

is

.1

w<

present

In

they havi anj

system

The

quite different

no longer out Th< works hav<

is

fati

m\A myths?

grip

on mj

true ignoble

"

Untitled, 1984. Painted Hydrocal and pastel on paper,

84

65V2

8 inches (166.4 x 215.3 x 20.3 cm). Collection Sherry

Fabricant.

proportions. But
like

it

is

atmospherics of

elusive as

it

gleams there

in

the dark with

its

Poe-

but in the depth of his intervention

in

Morris himself seems unsure on this point, noting


already in 1981 that

Minimalism had run out of steam:

"As the dialectical edge of Minimalism grew dull, as


it

had to

in time,

and

contexts or processes

dwindled

was only
its

most

as the radicality of

its

imagery,

became routine, its options


more space. n But Morris

to a formula: use
a drop-in

Minimalist

in the first place, albeit

articulate spokesman. His interest from the

beginning was

much more complex and

general than a

desire to create a "look" within a style or

He had been

many

concerned, like

generation, with nothing


task of art, the

less

as a hybrid grafting of

movement.

artists of his

than the philosophical

of sculpture

object

the vehicle for a reflection on art." This

unpopular and impolitic.

He

is

an

what Krauss

as

makes Morris

"artist's artist,"

not

aptly calls

its

"expanded"

field.

Morris makes philosophical objects that need not have

any visual family resemblance, no "look" that can be


labeled.

What

they have

visible, not representable,

in

common

and

strictly not

is

difficult to label

is

except perhaps as something like "philosophy."

body of questions and

decisions,

some

It

is

rational, others

arbitrary; a series of concerns, experiments, concepts,

procedures, attitudes
grid, like a card

file,

in short, a discursive field or

a catalogue of the considerations

and topics that might come up


object labeled

understood
word, image, and

employment

the basic issues

in

of aesthetics, particularly in the history of sculpture,

and verbal iconoclasm.

linguistic threat

his

work

is

Card File (1962,

hard to consume,

level of visual pleasure.

The

in

making ot an
This means

the

much

less digest, at the

objects don't even do us

the courtesy of "illustrating" Morris's discourse


Straightforward way.
less as

art

no. 26).

One might

in

think of his objei

examples or illustrations than as

in the usual sense of technical, stylistic virtuosity

be opened, pondered, and (sometimes) closed,

word/image object assemblages

when

ts

cases to

(despite his reputation as a perfectionist craftsman),

that,

anj

spe< itn

successful,

Mil

80

the work "proper," not as a mere

exceed and explode (or incorporate) the labels thac

an equal partner

accompany them.

supplement or neutral setting

in

The

tor the picture.

Hydrocal frames, with their imprinted body parts and


Show

yourself

the

in

Come

light, wall label.

leadenness of

institutional

its

post holocaust detritus, stand as the training

out of the shadows

of the works, trophies or relics encrusted

monster hides behind the

of the gallery. But this protean linguistic

past event, the catastrophe that

prose.

fossils

one actually has to do some hard

In short,

some

thinking,

serious talking to oneselt or a friend in

One

the presence of this work.

The

are.

oi

much more

objects take time,

is

past

Or

listened for three

reported that Cage

it is

and

And

no. 11]).

time

this

On

not a

is

apparent order to a labyrinth

ot knots,

an

emblem

Morris's Knots

1963, no.

<

with knots that displays

51

object as the "support" lor a


various

measurement

U)

pieces (pp. 1st

<

ouples the

the abstrat

ot

to

produce

a "rational,

,"

art that

aims

"systematii

formalist

a relation

art history

documents

mention

oi

the scatter piei

ol

on

in

paint

a dialei

..nd "label,

and

on

annihilation in

Wo

1980s,

si

is

alt

isual

charnel house

pn>|e

present

in the

1981, not

oi

ted future:

1980s

thi

>>v<

v il

the objei

adi

thi

di

thi

final

with

mass

"/.'

rtain disgusting motion

<i r<

and

deadthin^

Hi.

"i

ath and

>\<

gn

very structun

turned out to

"editoi

whosi
Ins pi

d, Stai

t<

\iiii

..i

mi

un
i

ii

iii

.i

this

in is

tin

an an

ti

an

critit al

essay

[*h<

is

structured

pn

Morris's

s ( iii

iii

kson Folkx ks Abstrai

(Jai

Hopper's mimetii realism, and Joseph

atastrophi ". slow

al

grid,'

mi majoi figures and tendencies

ssionism, Duchamp's metasystems,

transition from

hoax (the

Morris himseli lepitomi

Minimalist imagi of a table,

flagrantly

thi

ol

bt

procedun

typical Morris

glorious days ol

thi

ai

li

ol

movement

and

tort

roi<

./<

Morris's

around

ritical interpretation

warming and half-buried

impart both

'.

transformation

nd Holoi mst

ntalization

elicit extensivt

seething words which, hii thi

at the level of "look

is,

mpin

.id. n nui

tin

which

dtural carcasses,

ol,

haoti<

sup

monumi

thi

and Reagonomics

triumph

death and destruction. Drawing

oi

between the words and images, the

even inciti perpetual reinterpretation,

regn ssion to expressionist painting.

It je ,1-.

litation

"label," but rigorously

"t

tii s

thi

Irawin

in th<

idi

it

1.

an incompatible within

and

look

ol

mine' ted within

tin

in

some

thost

si

barbarism

ol

"baroque" phase of J

And

ii

in

images,"

ivilization that insist on I" ing

simultaneously as doi uments

ghoulishness and

ot

meditations on the aesthetic

in Ins

asks us to

h<

'dialectical

gray formalism ol th< polyhi drons and

writer

to

"American

might be nightmares from whii h w<

>

contemplati his objects as

the short

essay,

the- artist

it.

destruc tion as an

comment appended

editorial

about the

lu< iditj

(not to

awake. Like Walter Benjamin,

ami form

act usee

tirst

Benjamin put

own

its

monuments and n tic a commentary in Morris's


own essay, the editors polemic located the artist's

or at least

at perfe<

and history

possibility that art

order

gloom

he (and

scene

time beyond monuments.

to a

aesthetic pleasure ol the

Quartet,"

such

anybody else's art.


which art would not

h, as

hara< ter

tradition with the relentless, corrosive ironj ol

Duchamp

monuments

monumentalizing

punsm

ot

possible future in

Morris's 1981 Art in

of rational measurement.
\l irris

art tor a

An anonymous

thai display

the constructed, conventional, and arbitrary

realizes that this

They ( ritique a world in w hit


e.m experience
"mankind

mac hine-tooled

haotit tangle, or his

when one

arises

to survive a nuclear holocaust, but

notched wooden bar

),

a rational,

image as

to

is

remote future.

have- little interest in his or

is

exist,

As

es.

movement, one might consider

ot this

would
Tins

unsolved

problems, conundrums, and disagreeable absent

frame

we) are well aware that survivors

movement from

it),

to a less

is

as

to

it

meant

were

process of interpretation and description that leads to

the hidden truth or meaning, but

about

to 1h literal

is

would be one in which these paintings could


never exist Morris makes them look as
they

Making 1961,
hermeneutK duration,

oj Its

image

future

hours to the entire tape

a halt

loop of Box with the Sound

to

is

to the destructive element, as present

The "knot

and

sat

behind the

Frame

Someday, the works suggest, the past will be enframed


in a present that makes these works look natural.

time than a label allows, certainly more time than


got (though

lctt

enframed.

is

it

remote possible future

has to understand

the dialogue provoked by the objects in situ as part

what the works

body

whieh

present

around the

Edward

ornell's

environmi

ornami

ntal di strui tion

nts suitabli

foi

ol

Neo

III!

onfronts

thi

th<

I(

hi

lool

how< w

(pressionism framed within

painti

In thi
i

in

ti

s<

works,

ing

on

thi

decorativi surrealism)

onsidered as a totality, the

model suggested hen has three

boudoii

"i this p< riod,

sculptural counterquotations
.

>arth Vadi

ions

juotations

No

uppi

thi

liki

and orientations;
whii

cht

frann as

grid,

id

.hi

.i

vi

form
in.

thi
foi

it

table top,

distinct

which

l<

vi

locates positions

paradigmatii lines

foui

k<

m\'\

boundaries as well as

dm H

is

ii

hi

it

(oi

nduring traditions;

"

and

we

at the roots of these traditions

pass into a

Even

Morris evokes the

theoretical realm."

tradition of the tavola

most patently unalterable property

its

not remain constant. For

and Condorcet's notion

of the

shape

does

in u er who changes the

it is the

shape constantly by his change in position relatix

t to

the

known

historical/conceptual tableau, the classic rationalist

work. Oddly,

device for spatializing a discursive totality, treating his

shape, the gestalt, that allows this awareness to become so

mimic

"polygon" as a stage for art-critical gestures that


the characteristic gestures of

own

or "lodestones." Thus, his


editorial

its

prose (as the outraged

commentary complains) "wanderfs] around

great deal," like the tracks of Pollock;

stuffs the virtual "box" of its

it

is

strength of the constant,

conceptual

six-foot cube.

mind but which

different from every side. So


The constant shape of the cube held in the

Modern art
manner of Cornell. Then it turns, in the manner
of Duchamp, and deconstructs the entire structure as

is

the viewer never literally experiences, is


the literal changing, perspective

known

views are related. There are two distinct terms: the

and the

constant

grid with fragments of the entire history of

works than previous sculpture.

in these

Baroque figurative bronze

an actuality against which

space of alienation" in the style of

artist in the "sealed

Hopper;

portrays the

it

much more emphatic

four "key points"

it is the

experienced variable. Such a division does

not occur in the experience of the bronze.

in the

"the ghoulish image of critics


their

dead

mumbling and chewing

on the table of commentary." 2

artifacts

The terms

here go back at least as far as Plato's

division between the "intelligible" and the "visible,"

and the question raised

is

how one

Are you innocence, sincerity? Are you but a few simple guiding words,

provocative of thought"

a soothing "orientation" 7 Ah, but

Plato's

catch your sneer, your

thus provocations to dialogue.

agendas are always hidden.

object,

adequacy

Morris's ambivalence about the


visible form, then, does not

of the

can't

to the labels or narratives

"American Quartet"
it

run from the objects

provided by Morris'
is

own

it

images, and objects


to resist:

is

exactly

is

Morris's

work

image or a

tries

autobiographical."

Minimalism

The rude

beams of
of

cultural totalities nor figures of Platonic perceptual

foundations-; they are better seen as something like

Mouse

hurls at Krazy Kat

its

must be taken

into account.

specific

Above

offers

all, its

norm of the human

confounded but

and small, not thus

as distinct entities."
is

In Morris's

to explore the delicate intermediate

realm "between the

monument and

the ornament,"

space that Morris consistently associates with a "public

mode" of perception.
Another way to define the delicate intermediate
zone opened up by this sort of object is to ask exactly
how valuable or important the object is, what sort
of claims it puts on the beholder. It's clear, for
instance, that Morris's polyhedrons are not unique

whenever K. K. utters some profound moral truism.

why

object itself

'

are, in Morris's usage, neither allegories

the bricks that Ignatz

The

and the private sphere of intimacy, an in-between

every delight

blocks and

obviously,

is,

between the gigantic proportions of mass perception

and oppression offered by that gulag called the


B

provocation to dialogue.

terms, the goal

one which has

style, as well as

staging of the

a necessary but not sufficient condition for the

in Plato's words, "the great

to

refused every identity conferred by an institution, a


discourse, an

impinge

body) invites "the intelligence ... to contemplate,

among words,

what

"The only authenticity

and an institutional

scale (especially in relation to the

image nor

would be better

say that the stabilizing of relations

The

insertion into a space

factors that

the word nor the object can be relied on to stabilize

experience or meaning. Perhaps

materials, facture, lighting, color, orientation

a self-devouring

eats itself alive. Neither the

its

context that invites aesthetic reflection,

imply either complacency

or certainty about the place of philosophical language

\bu

"'

triumph once again (endlessly and forever) over the imagistic. Your

image/text;

that "provocative things

strategies disguised beneath your platitudes. You wish to

writings.

is

"things that are

things that are not.

That
upon the senses together with their opposites.
that is, occasions
is what makes them dialectical
for the experience of difference and contradiction, and

twitching suspect words, your double meanings, your dominating

or critical discourse.

answer

from

to distinguish a

is

"provocative" or "dialectical" object

objects, but material realizations of three-dimensional

concepts, open to indefinite reproduction

Main

reward an analysis that looks for phenomenological

Minimalist objects of the 1960s have been

lost or

That

is

Morris's Minimalist objects don't really

of his

foundations as opposed to phenomenological process

destroyed, and have since been refabricated in other

and contradiction. The choice of extraordinarily clear

(often

elementary polyhedrons, executed

in specific

original plywood.

at a precise scale in relation to the

human

aimed

materials

body,

is

at revealing the disjunctions in the perceptual

more expensive and durable) materials than the

The

many
Guggenheim

decision to recreate

these objects in plywood for the

retrospective, rather than to borrow the refabrications

process, not at establishing elemental foundations.

from the collections where they now

As the viewer moves

the peculiar chameleon quality of the pieces.

or the object

in relation to

moves into new

the object,

situations,

its

neutral" shape undergoes infinite variation:

"open and

of

hand, this choice would seem to

reside, illustrates

reflei

On
nam

historicist nostalgia tor the "original" materials

.IT

one

and

ti

on another,

feel of tlu- objects;

cult

cheerfully flouts the

it

the original by substituting mete copies that

<>t

be fabricated by the hand of the

will certainly not

negating

artist,

tin-

world with his Skilsaw. The

and autographic identity

materiality, visual presence,

works

oi Morris's

everything

is

not unimportant, but

equal importance

c )i

reproducibility,

and textual

is

it

pictorial legal identity in

drawings, specifications, and considerations

The

"intellectual property

put

it

Notes on

of

Morns

itself, as

object

ulpture," "has not

S<

not

their mobility,

is

become

ss

l<

'

important.

become

has merelj

It

^/'-important

less

than traditional objets dart are considered to be.

An
c

and

early

larify these

presentsat
is

simple example may help to

relatively

work

Tin

issues

a literal object, a

an imagt

is

182.9

72

72 inches (25.4

solidity, not

hollowness; (3)

182.9 cm).

provenance,

title, a

and twelve inches Inch;


label suggests gray, stony
is

ii

work

a set of labels

ement, opt n

to

am number

emotional assm iation; the game

and

historit al labeling; the

meditation on the relation

words

v.

game

artspeak

philosophy

of

yet, k

al

images, and

of obje"< ts.

public in the sense that

is

form, beauty,

to

of

is

it

language games (and others as well).

si

open

Or

to all

better

liL a door into a publit sphere, on<

is

an be

refabrications anil

of

.w\A

that

with

of art

and descriptive terms

language games: traditional responses

tin

it

matin. tls. dimensions, construction, ami

tor its
pla<

1962, no. Is)

hollow, painted

ol a slab, a

simulacrum whose look and


Cloud, 1962. Painted plywood. 10

V'..

hollow square plywood box painted

gray, eight by eight feet wide


(_' it

ailed

three disjunctive identities (1)

least

Ii It

M\A labeled with

losed

look (like

room* or opened into a philosophical gaze and

a rest

maj have no determinate outcome, no

inquiry thai

systematii payoff

Read as a
slab

than as a label,

text rather

the kej thai opens the obj(

is

philosophical provocation
Slab

1962. Painted plywood, 12

243.8

243 8 cm).

96

96 inches (30.5

word

th<

as a

In particular,

it

ase ol

opens the

object to reflection

on

on<

most ancient and

ol th<

durable theories of the relation between languagt and


objects,

theory thai Ian

In

ill

is

a system

of

labels, thai

iinlu iJn.il words in languagt

combinations

.ml

thai

San it
to bi

u hi J'

a publii

howevi
publii

\i

i.

is

iIh

ii

ord

<</

ntt

;/,

languagt

oi

1>

tO

vv

is

hum

m>

am

won/has

is

Wittgenstein

(oi

attributes

it

What Slab does,

in materialize tins

Morris

It is

and pervasive

ni

ii

of

\\ ittgl nsli in

commonplaci

reflection

an

languagt

<r,i'

pii

tun

to stagi

it

lor

following Wittgenstein's

instructions to 'imagini a languagi for

description given bj August ini

I.H

tt

following uU.r. Ever)

hardly needs thi authority,


.

lated with tht word.

tun

pii
ii

objt

In this picturt

n/'/,(i for

Tins

nana

such nan,

tin roots "/ tin

a meaning
r/'t

is

which

right,"

thi

ascenario

>

that

might be likened

to

employing Minimalist

sculptures as props in a performance piece.


In Wittgenstein's language

imagined

are

artist's

"

ego, his autobiography, or even his objects, but

a decrypting of the hidden "creative process" that

game, the simple objects

parodies the cult of secrecy associated with Romantic


expressive creation and the associated production of

as functional elements in a practical

cult objects.

activity:

Morris's Slab (as word, image, or object) does

The language

is

meant

to serve for

communication between

A and an assistant B. A

a builder

is

stones; there are blocks, pillars, slabs

pass the stones,

to

and that

building with build-

and beams. B

in the order in which

out;

calls

call.

primitive language.*

us what to do:

its

grammatical mood
It

unambiguous

to a straightforwardly

label, the

them

and things, language and the world. This work can


be

Conceive this as a complete

is

slightest hesitation exposes

Wittgenstein then proceeds to demonstrate that the

expression in a language game, should

Augustinian model of the word as name or label

as "this

an object

is

radically incomplete,

and that even

in

a primitive scene like the one he has imagined,

the words do a great deal more than


objects.
in

They function

in a

name

or label the

are not given by the

in

what Wittgenstein called

me

"bring
a

"a

It is

it

it is

game

(specifically, the social division

of

skill,

composed?

really

the simple constituent parts of which reality

What

The

molecules, or the

of a

are the simple constituent parts of a

of wood of which

bits

atoms?

in

is:

to

it is

made? Or the

"Simple" means: not composite.

what

sense "composite"? It

speak absolutely of the simple parts

chair.*''

The "work,"

and

The

intellectual

rejection of "composite" objects, the

construction of a sculpture without syntax, that

form of public

is,

with no internal relations of parts, in favor of simple

elementary forms

an invitation to transform a curatorial

label into a perceptual

work.

But what are


is

turns "slab" from a

labor between a master builder and his workers).


is

what names

'

"work"

Morris's Slab

(whether type or token)

are "simples"

an imperative declaration in a form of life we

call

and

makes no sense at all

if a

surely not the elliptical sentence: 'Slab!'

Wittgenstein's language
label into

refers

it

unique individual work or a

this object

And here the point

has not the same meaning as the like-

of our language."

might

word,

If a

sounding word of our ordinary language. But


sentence,

Is

really "simple,"

chair?

social relationship: "Is

the call 'Slab!' ... a sentence or a word?


surely

it

Slab a proper

Is

the object

Is

an

form of life." Slab

a token in a system of exchange,

command, an index of a

Slab"?

is

translate

designate? 45

not just the object but something like

a slab."

is

we

concept to be replicated in an indefinite series of


objects?

objects they designate but by their practical use

signifies, then,

or a generic label?

to a type or a token, a

language game, one

which the meanings of words

name

a slab" or as "this

is

is

the label, perfectly coordinated,

end of story. But the

and reassuring: there

invisible, effortless,

the object, there

the beholder to a labyrinth of knots. If Slab

for

is

invites the

Augustinian model of the relation between words

brings the stone which he has learnt to bring

at such-and-such a

tell

interrogative, not imperative.

contemplation of a simple, primitive object in relation

has
needs

them. For this purpose they use a language consisting of


the words "block," "pillar," "slab," "beam".

not

is

generally taken to be the central

program of Minimalism. The


program, however,

is

of this

real point

not to reify a notion of the

absolutely simple but to explore the complexity and

therefore, does not encrypt its

time, and effort in the traditional model of the

compositeness of the simple, to crack the atomic

common

whose inside/outside structure unites the


"work of art" with the commodity fetish as a container
of hidden value and meaning
what Marx called
"congealed labor power" and Freud diagnosed as the

structure of both

fetishism of objects concealing the labor of the

yourself," or as a series of Wittgensteinian questions:

unconscious."

"How do you see this object? What do you see


What does the name have to do with what you

"case,"

It is

better described in the terms of

Freud's "uncanny," that

is,

as a "case" that

simultaneously strange and familiar."

is

We do

not stand

in fixated

admiration of Morris's "work" (either his

object, or

its

find ourselves placed in relation to the

object as a coworker, a potential collaborator.

work (both the object and

made

its

making)

is

The

case, the

work

is

Own

disseminated,

Making. In

"

sense and rational

Perhaps, then,

we should

translate the

simple word "slab" as a Wittgensteinian imperative


like "look at this slab

and say the word aloud or

In either case, the "translation" of the label

or allegory.

game
the

exoteric and public, even "broadcast," as, for

example, Box with the Sound of Its

is

to

it

as}

see?"

clearly

not the end of the process, not the solution to a puzzle

significance as a trace of his skill, time,

and labor) but

positivism.

this

not aiming at self-reference to the

It

is

only the opening

move

in a

language

that has no determinate outcome. (Cage

show where Slab was

first

went

to

exhibited and reported

that he didn't see any works of art in the gallery, just a


slab on the floor.) Wittgenstein urges us not to be

troubled by the simple, primitive, and incompli


character of this kind of ,i;ame:

WJT

MITCH KM 89

want

shows thtru

say that this

to

ask yourself whether our I

pedestal

incompi

to bt

"iplett:

andthi notation

.holism of chemistry

which

ptak. suburbs

our

of

\ndhow

lai

man) bou

ins to

an am..

as

old and

>f

and of

bou

from

surrounded by a multitude

houses

game

the language

ol

as primitive building blocks deployed in

its

from

and boredom

(at least

with scandal, fraud,

relation to traditional notions

and aesthetic

propriety, authenticity,

interest). Insofar as the label

"Minimalism'' provides a

way

enframe

to stabilize the object, to

deny boredom and demand

to

oldest

skepticism and compel conviction,

about

radical renunciation

.m>.\

flirtation

its

of art, or

districts, provocatives to rhe ancient questions

eloquence, wit, and

to, its

rational purity

Its

are inseparable

of artistic

An- Morris's Minimalist objects better seen as the

post-Modern suburbs

Odyssey

machine
whose shuttling aspects can now be switched on.
Its simplicity, blankness, and muteness are inseparable
complexity.

and this

arious periods;

Perhaps, like the monolith in

A Spaa

an extraterrestrial teaching

is

from, yet antithetical


hot

neu boroughs with straight

oj

and uniform

new

sculptures equivalent of a frame

Stanley Kubrick's 2001:


Morris's slab

Of th:

is

put on display.

itself

is

ideologically,

it

interest, to defeat

dulls the edge of

it

the dialectical image presented bj tin object, and

words, images, and objects posed by Plato and

bmk

[gnatz's

misses

mark.

its

Augustine' Such questions might also be thought of

what

a translation ol

.is

means

it

to sav "slab?" in

attempts to divide the

by using categories like "literalness" and

of art

and "objecthood" versus

"figurality"

more

to look

the new

and the

same terms, with

in exai tly the

Both the indictment

ed

by defenders

arc expressed

valences of value

hi

Minimalism

of

Art and Objecthood

In Fried in

new

and

its

with the past, an undialci


"tradition." This

u a

but that

111

lie

In a

merely

newness might best be

and are not

Modernism

in .u tin
iim

aning as

thi

<>i

provocativeness today cannot be what


1960s, though

11

ii

annot

'

ion oi

rical situation

of

I"

mi

(hat

in. il bloi ks

would
si

rh

uh

on

ie

in. i.le ob|<

c.

inns

Anothi

70

ii

it

mil In

.ind the

kind

wi

'In

.how. w

'

o, burst various
ol

11

importan

ol

Inn'
thi
1

ilptun

il

1.

finds the

at

Has

ol

al

"<

is,

in

appropriation

1960s to bandage

of tht

stylt

the Vietnam

in

YYM

so offensive, for tin

ol

wound

ould there ever be

been

political criminality evet

In

will ol the critical? lias there ever


\ilii

Minimal mask placed

mon

wound

been

ovei governmental

ulpabilit)

H.mss own
duns
both

work

has, in general,

been devoted

unmasking, which means

ol

onstrut

(hat

and n rnovt various kinds

oi

10

has 10

11

masks

the labels affixed to objects, tht fetishistii charactei "

ami

substituting private grief tor

mask

si

1.1

oi tht

pleasure,

"objei

10

-nil

itself," tht
I

lis

veterans of World

lii

and (most fundamentally)

irreducibly elemental thing

notion

proposed

Wat

II

ol tht
si

ulptural

was a piece

of ready madt Minimalism, the casings of thi atomii

il

ol

bombs droppt

and hand

in tht

bast

hospital

lool

indled to a formula: use

the

kinds

languagi garni

in. 1.

nor

dw

win Morris

repressed than In (Ins weeping

tivelj

ii

ither.

their position within thi history


bit

In

from

w.i\

Me

is

Minimalist vernacular

of a

bin guilt?

th

i"

nod

from

blo

.1

0111 inui

pi
1

Ins

imagery, contexts or processes

options

would better be kepi open

ill. 11

was in the

it

.dl iln

.1

ioiind.il

In

its

view, a one sided, nondialei

Ills

produi tion and reception

its first
ill

p.

.1

played with Slab and Us bn

hi

reflect

<

parati d

i(

\!,ii

dnhitioii
will

11

oi

word

that

it

ion

1. ti is

1 1

somewhen

themselves

of its

routine,

more ingenious

to

historicist recapitulation of

awa

became

the vanguard

Tin objects themselves an now in a new

of history

nj

h us

to uii|inr\.

a certain

Minimalism came, in his view, when


now here to go but up and out "As

of

the radicality

Yi

the 1960s and the so-i ailed "vcrdu

lies ol

ion,

whn

open

re still

re lied

Minimalism,

iui

on

his insistence

is

to have

employment

break

.1

seemed

more spact

was nothing

not to say thai there

is

n tins

tin

ol

gation

n<

new. original, or

am

(chieflj

canonization

are condui ted in the language ol an absolute

exhaustion
ii

American 1960s avant-garde

of the

the shuttle in motion,

to

keep

trine, to

work, the intimate and the monumental. The

the old, ami both

of

refusal of the

of Morris's desirt

Minimalist dot

Ins objects tree of

intermediate scale between the private and the public

the history of art.

in

defined as a negation

is

ptanci

tt

to appear luminous with the innocence of your cogent facts.

Perhaps the best indication

keep

begin

"artifice"

temporary rhctorn.il Strategies than

like

durable categories. As so often

You wish

in

your crisp paragraphs.

in

Morris and the Minimalists from traditional

of

forms

small there on the wall and straightforward

your brief rectangulanty and nearly prim

In retrospect, then, the

work

seem so

the light you

In

the presence of this object.

In
-H

hi

the plinth

01

plaza "i

evocatii

1.1

mon

In
1

d on
.'

|.i|

Ion.

tan,
I.i

\i

w
ii

in
1,

ins

wi n in be installed

Administration

pioposal was dollblv di


tradition

01011s in

Us

and populist American ideolo

appropriate wat

memorial than the weapons

Scvlptukit

Urns 8* Wit

Proposal

t^-rew/s

JommstwicW

HOSfxTM

3*r Rms, Floriim

*>->.<

>
fc

31

_^

Ol

**Wf*4*

J^

Sculpture Proposal

Veterans

Administration

Hospital Bay Pines, Florida, 1981.


42 inches (96.5

of the last war

lawn)?

(cf,

What more

the cannon on the courthouse

ask,

appropriate image for a veterans

American

lives" in

World War

II?

There
fit

is

object as

what

example or

mask

revealing the merry

too easily,

memorials to erase guilt and


Sculpture Proposal

Bay

historical

bomb

just waiting to

Morris's early Minimalist pieces

the space of a retrospective,

gone

off,

remains in the archive of

rejected proposals, a time

bombs

may now

go

off.

be, in

or that have been defused by the labels of

"gets the concept" of Slab or

Beam

(1962),

the

it?

learn by actually

Own Alakmg

Sound of Its

We

its

label

can certainly understand this

parodying of the expressionist Action Painting

aesthetic without ever actually seeing

The occasion of a

Once one
we must

know

that

and what might

retrospective

is,

a thoroughly experimental event, for

that have already

canonization and art-historical explanation.

What might we

already contained in

be inferred from

memory.

on

Why do

to look at these constructions to test or confirm

that knowledge?

object's

its

Veterans Administration Hospital

Pines, Florida (1981)

different appearances from different angles?

isn't

wink and the death's-head grin

beneath to representatives of a public that wants

made

as a staple of everyday

sense, that simple polyhedrons take

beholding Box with

But these cases/casings


all

common
we have

habit of treating the

that can slip off

there actually to look at the pieces?

them? Don't we already know,

even a

of these hollow

have called a "case" rather than as an

illustration.

offer the sort of

own

is

on Mylar, 38 x

of the artist.

superfluous by the welter of discourse that surrounds

casings with the traditional hollowness of Minimalist


sculpture, and Morris's

what need

Ink

106.7 cm). Collection

Hasn't their material and visual presence been

hospital than the objects that (we are told) "saved

certain ironic aptness in the perfect

it.

in Morris's case,

we cannot

the answers to these questions beforehand.

Insofar as the blockbuster

show has become

a mass-

cultural spectacle in recent pears, an occasion tor rapid

consumption of vast quantities of visual pleasure,


these objects will not

feel

comfortable, either with

themselves or their beholders. What's to mi

.1

'

\\ hat's

r<>

MITCHKLL 71

dialectical image/text that

materialized in a specific

is

human

constructed thing, with a relation to specific

bodies in a particular situation. This delicate situation

something

like a public sphere, in the sense

is

also

ot

an open, relatively uncoerced speech situation. The

know

only way

openness

is

of conveying this sense ot Morris's

to dwell

on

few

perhaps typical

specific,

common

objects in a relatively

language.

(I've

suggested that Wittgensteins vocabulary and his


willingness to pause over the obvious

an appropriate,

is

though by no means exclusive, model.)


I-Box

1962, no. 25), for instance, activates an

among

infinite, labyrinthine circuit

What

questions:

What

an

is

world, and

its

assemblage: a
/,

image

The

door.''

without

is

pipe

plywood cabinet covered

view). Painted

with Sculptmetal, containing photograph, 19 x 12

'

inches

(48.3 x 32.4 x 3.5 cm). Collection Leo Castelli.

maker

simpler.

It

of the short circuit,

opening

pi/u (1928),

The audience has

do

CO

work can

And what
it

expe< red to do, trooping through in busloads, listening

Libels like so

many

simply serve as
di\ ides

lite

us

of the auslerc elitism that

an Irom mass

ertain kinds ot

As

feel repro.u In d, tin

nt

>o()s that

of gentleness as

you

tell

You

totalizing.

linguistic

them what

grenade. You footnoteless,

iconoclastic epitome of generic advertising.

to think.

You

I-Box as a case

elements

fatal

the WOrd

nh

LIhisIit

I'll"

hi

fetishes

image

You babbling triumph


and washed and

show

is

in Illation

thai

is,

supposed

thai

beholdi

intimae
1

>

01

Ha. in

through then
.,1

mass

consistently steers betwi


ih.

78

delicati

IIOBI

thi

monumi

ill-

n tin

quite

gulag of thi

autobiography (the soun

.11

<

111

artist's

ol fetishistii

realization as the

Minus's work
11

alti

nurse,

that there

is

willing to invest

is

situation of thi philosophical object,

ol

lost

in a

that

"I

bo\

name?

is

then' not

as min.li

one takes

It

It

it

the

ol

sell

relirem e

tin

it

to

someone'
body

to the
in

whu

is a
11

it

tins little

Hi (he

i|iii\iii al

photograplni

image

to whit h tin

scr\es as a door and

label, to

what does

the reference of the "I."

assemblage Construct?
I

beam

does to the box


It

is

BMC,

image, to the box)

The

01 to

ie\e.ilc d as

ol

hai.li tel ul its rctereiu

"I" has

he invisible "self " 01 visible


it

apply?

it

between words, images,

lation

in the artist, i" the artist's

is

makes sense used in this way?


make 111 tins ase' Does ,k (uallv

straightforwardly illustrates tin impossibility

than

one

"),

What

labyrinth ot questions.

might begin by interrogating the

noting that

il

it

Morns, or

model

\\i

in

rnatives, seeking

also like
is

meditation on the fundamental

something, or

propei

>

aura"

Everything

is

isolates tor attention (not tncrclv as

and objects does

to provide

an be inserted

oli|ei is that

through theii incarceration in


hi

tor

liters, or to the
a

club of "education" to the head.

and totems

ol

sense does

to

\\ hat

artistii

it

being

\\ hat

illustrationless,

of the information byte. You, labelless label, starched

swinging that swift and

answer,

as an observer

mote

an example to be labeled "artistn

proto and pre-cntical patch of writing. You totalitarian text of

but I-Box

concealed."

is

You don't

it,

before

something more?

risks

You are the paragon

know

didn't

Magritte's pipe in insinuating a hesitation:

The

<leteiisi\i

11

revealed

is

many
Pop ami Op. The audience

the

of

bedazzled In

ssi .1.

culture.

defined by the label ot Minimalism,

he represents an aspec

may

may

is

Word and

"1."

are apparently redundant, capturing the sell in a

know anything you


that

the wall

preservers' Morris's work

reminder

historii al" figure

ot

swimming toward

taped commentaries,

to

image

even

between the words and

himself naked

ot

double cipher." As David Antin puts

be

Magritte's
is

doesn't even offer a paradoxical gesture

like Magritte's "contradiction"

the work.

all

mvites us to

it

move on

unequivocally labeled by the word


like?

solved

is

Like Rene

a door.

or "so what.''" and

the image. Morris's image

sore ol perceptual or intellectual

box naked

ot the

only an image, not an object. I-Box

is

its

gesture ot the opened

um

Magritte's Ceci n'estpai

1962 (open

weaves

too obvious, the puzzle that

effort, as easy as

say, "of course,"


I-Box,

ot the

first

impasse

to flaunt the

is

the joke that

word?

is

sort ot creature

model for itself, out of this specific


box with a door shaped like the letter

a photographic

behind the

box

What

object.''

the elementary

What

an image'

is

no

body

ol

nt fixing

firmei relation

the artist

the material shape

what linguists Call a

ol

an

"shifter,"

What

an indexical sign whose referent can only be

determined
(thus, the

in the context of a specific

speech situation

person designates the speaker,

first

its

meaning

with

shifts

The word

"I," in short, is like a door,

swinging on the hinge of dialogue, now open to use by

now

anyone,
it

its

reference

open,

When

herself.

the door of I-Box

when

open, unfixed;

is

the door

closed,

is

that this inner surface

would

is

manhood and wearing

its

can only be described as

change the meaning of I-Box

it

revealed a naked female body?

if

consideration

full

of these questions would take us into a whole

new

on the language games of gender

essay

intersection of body, image,

and

as an

label in Morris's art.

begin such an inquiry by noting that

most of Morris's works seem designed


and personal

to neutralize all

identity, to

body of both the

treat the sexually labeled

and

artist

the beholder as a theatrical role or a site of

of the artist.
Is

mean

traces of autobiography

is

reference closes in on and frames the image

its

How

One might

closed by someone's appropriation of

him- or

to

"cocky"?
it

time and the flow of discourse, the give and take of


conversation.

it

a facial expression that

u
the second person the listener or addressee). Like the

words "here" and "now,"

does

naked male body, displaying

I-Box merely an example or illustration of a

And

experimentation.

work could hardly be

yet his

commonplace then.' Or does its materiality


and visual presence make it a case of self-reference, a
kind of metapicture of a whole language game?"
A better question might be: what kinds of mindlanguage-perception games can be played with this
object? I would suggest four: (1) a fort-da game

described as gender neutral, insofar as the contingent

of concealment and revelation of a

phallic

linguistic

game

as

peek-a-boo

simple as the opening and shutting of an

"I/Eye," a shuttling
secret

"self," a

show

to

the historical gendering

of the artistic role are irreducible material and cultural


givens, like the materials of wood, photographic paper,

and Sculptmetal.^ Certainly Morris's "cockiness"


in

I-Box can be read as a parodic mockery of the

male genius that had become institutionalized

by Abstract Expressionism,

between privacy and publicity, the

and the disclosure; one that seems

own gender and

fact of his

mocks the

just as Slab

subordination of the sculptural support to the phallic


verticality of the statue.

(Compare,

S&M getup

in this regard,

everything (the naked photographic truth) and nothing

Morris in fascistic

empty verbal sign) in rapid succession; (2) a


game of allusions to genres and prototypes within the
mediums of painting, sculpture, and photography

[no. 125] for his

and

the linkages of this object with self-portraiture,

Morris playing the role of Minimalist stagehand.)

(the

pornography, and scandal; with surveillance


like a police photo);

and

looks

(it

with the encrypting of sacred icons

fetishes in protective niches, arks, tabernacles, or

casements

in this case,

wood encased

in gray metal;

with the calligraphic tradition of the letter as work


of art, the historiated

initial,

what hides

verbal sign of

that can say "I," inside a

character

/;

(3) a

way we think

game

fusing the body with the

inside the

body

body enframed

and of the body,

as

outside structure, with the senses (especially the


eye) conceived as apertures or thresholds like

and doors; the

relation of visual

and verbal

showing and speaking, seeing and reading,


self that
itself

whole

(4) a

game

set of pieties

the selves of artists) are

is

desecrated. I-Box

we

mocks

is

self

(and

a wall,

hidden inside

Wittgenstein argued that "the


picture of the

human

nightmare about a

counterpoint to

my own

work without relying on

dream

as the

attempt

to write

labels.

don't offer the text of

unique key

to Morris's

about his

meanings or

fact,

dream.

It

I'm very skeptical about the authority of


strikes

me

as flagrantly literary,

with

its

echoes of Poe's "Tell-Tale Heart" and the scene of Eve's

temptation in Milton's Paradise Lost


ear").

babbled

("it

my

in

the sort of dream one makes up (perhaps

It is

The simultaneously

unconsciously) for one's analyst.

phalln and labial images associated with the label

which

entwines"

itself, "slithers

and

(it

shadows,"

coils in the

and "seems

to pulsate" like an uncontrollable ere< tion

that Morris

must

"get a grip on"; yet

it

devouring,

is

hollow case or body.

locquacious, 'prim," and "chaste") suggest

human body

conscious fantasy about a Medusa like phalli) female

is

the best

soul."" Morris hteralizes this

whose "aim

is

nothing

show us that inside there is


nothing but another outside. The label on the surface

refers to in this

conceals nothing but another surface to trap the look.

panels

claim, opening the case to

as

the occasion for any psychoanalytic decoding of his

divine

talk of the self as an invisible presence concealed

behind

had

wall label. His account of this nightmare has been a

the

its

opened and

a form of life in

bodies, images, and discourses. 58

this

mocked and parodied:

laid bare, the tabernacle

categories as labels that circulate in the exchanges of

work. In

fetishism of the art object as an effluence of


creator

of a foundational identity in gender, and to treat sexual

to a

of "signifying," in

which

Along with Cage, Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg,

signs,

about art and the

Site [1964, no. 63],

and the emergent American avant-garde of the 1960s,


Morris seems consistently to undermine the notion

this

windows

speaks and writes versus the self that displays

and looks back;

which

performance piece

In the fall of 1990, Morris

an inside-

scandalous poster

1974 Leo Castelli Gallery exhibition,

staged Carolee Schneemann as Manet's Olympia, with

a self

as the written

of metaphors, analogies for the

of the self,

his

in the

less

than dominating

highl)

my

images

The panic ular images thai Morris


dream are the em austii on aluminum

there on the wall."

lie

e\ci uled in the Spring

and summer

.1

Mn

ol

I""

'

:i

and

exhibited

tirst

the

at

Washington, D.C.,

orcoran Gallery of Art. in

December of

in

that year. Morris

suspects that the labels "linguistic hysteria" will "erode

my

the encaustic from


It

Guggenheim

the

panels."

regrettable that this series does not appear in

is

retrospective,

only because these

it

paintings, produced under the foreshadowing prospect

major retrospective,

oi a

own

not only oi Morris's

themselves

art-

retrospective

but of the

artistic career

fortunes of art and language, the look and the label, in

w hat Arthur Danto has

(.ailed this "Post-I listorical

The paintings

Period of Art."

much

are very

with the Gothic phantasmagoria

of a piece

nightmare,

of Morris's

employing gloomy, kind colors and an iconography


that evoke a range of art-historical references

trom Mantegna'sDfto/<

anamorphic skull
1974 (poster

Offset lithograph. 36

60.6 cm). Collection

-'

for Voice).
x

23

(93.3

of the artist.

Most notable, however, are the texts that have

1816)

Untitled

iled

wall labels

of

onto the surface

been stent

Morris's

in

oi linguistic

threat

command

swim

letters

in the light, wall

been heeded, even

label" has not

"elusive as [they]

Roe-like atmospherics

its

and verba] iconoclasm." Morris's

show yourself

to

the images. Like the

of

dream, (luy are

the dark with

gleam there

The

brist (after 1466) to Holbein's

1533) to Goya's Black Paint

<

and out

in

own

in his

paintings

of legible fb( us.

refusing either to disappear or to

ome

into the light

to explain the images.

We

can.

of

nurse, label the labels on these

paintings as references (along with the encaustic

medium)
e\i

paintings, insi as

image

r\

employment of stenciled lettering


we can label virtually
the paintings as an allusion to some

to Johns's

in Ins early

in

art- historical or

popular source.

Morns about these pieces


production, however,

it

be<

In

onversations with

the time

at

ame

ol their

lear to

me

was

that hi

indifferent to the identify ation ol sources as keys to


Site

meaning,

1964. Morris and Carolee

Schneemann
73. Surplus

in

performance

at

Stage

Dance Theater, New York

had forgotten main

that, in t.ui. he

The immediate subjei

himself

an ism retrospection

process of

memorj

mam

that

is

rhe

lusivt

rbal

\i

.I

labels as

pii

rt

<

ii

.i

Kmii

ognition

'i ii

iln

\\ linn
1

1.

.issoi iative

It's

label in

The

lu

second

labels

do

is

that

not

language that

flu ket

in

(like

and out

impossible even to label the

;eneri<

typ< of verbal expression:

proverbial sayings reminiscent

n with

) n\

ii

the

onlj look like labels, font tioning

allusions)

inn ism,'

<

Nietzschean echoes

and

is

specifically

the

ol

of Goya's enigmatit Caprichosoi 1797 98

titles

iii

si

thej on lode

bus

like sira\

an almost unreadable;

label the images; tht

the

them

thing one notes about Morris's labels

first

thej .in almost uninterpretable

mon

more

itself,

the relation between image, obje<

ol

the paintings

ol

ii

Slavt

his ol states ol

World
i;

and

hi oi

tht

f.

I;

Mi morj

Is

Moralitj

>.

lungi

fragmentarj

being ("Inabilitj to Endun

assoi iativt

puns

("]

lorde

oi

loard

una sin verbal collages hk< the


transcript ol

Dutch

Schultz's death

ravings with phrases from Jacques Derrida, appended

74

as the "text" to a recognizable rendering of Mantegna's

Dead Christ.
These text/image composites may be

we do

unreadable, but, of course,

their obscurity invites interpretation,

doubt that future scholars

and

will

nearly

them;

finally read

and

have no

drag both the images

their labels into the light of art-historical

When

analysis.

that

is

done, however,

my

hunch

that

is

everything revealed will remain concealed (not that


this devalues the process of revelation).

instance one of the

Take as an

more transparent compositions

in

this series, the magnificent tribute to Pollock entitled

Monument Dead Monument/Rush


This painting

is

Life

Rush (1990).

based on the famous Hans

photograph of Pollock

at work. Morris has

Namuth image and assembled

Namuth

doubled the

as a vertical diptych,

it

the upper and lower panels appearing as inverted,

mirror images of one another. The lower (upside-down)


panel

is

more

clearly delineated, the

upper having been

subjected to heat, which caused the encaustic to melt

on the aluminum support, blurring the contours

The mirrorlike, vertical (a)symmetry of


matched laterally by the labels that
run up and down its margins: on the left, "Monument
Dead Monument" ascends; on the right "Rush Life
ot the

image.

the images

is

Rush" descends.

What tribute does this painting pay to Pollock,


man who has been called "the greatest American
painter of the twentieth century," the painter

work had

a decisive influence

on Morris's

the

whose
Improvident, Determined .... 1990. Encaustic on

earliest

work, and the epitome of the expressionist aesthetic


against which early

Minimalism

highly equivocal tribute,


us back to

even

set its face?

should

re-enacts

say,

one that

like a hall of verbal/visual mirrors in

reflected object

is

the genesis, production,

reproduction, and consumption of art

The asymmetry
to "advance"

tendency

by processes of devolution and negation,

remembering, forgetting, and disremembering,

"original,"
in

the object.

If

Pollock showed us that the primary


is

that

it

pours, Morris shows

us that the primary material fact about


(encaustic)

is

that

it

melts.

What we

wax

are left with

nor a sardonic commentary on his subsequent

monumentalization, but a vision of the birth and


death

of a

monument,

its vital

origin,

its

and

its

melting

down

in forgetfulness

radically

from most of the sculptural productions that

will enjoy pride of place in the

But

retrospective.

Guggenheim

their deepest concerns are all of a

piece with the earlier work.

They share the same


of the work of art

concern for investigating the identity


as a

nexus of vision, language, and objecthood.

to occupy the same precarious threshold


between form and anti-form, between the private
fetish

and the public totem. Above


ot philosophical

Morris's

wrong

all,

they play the

provocation and

for

debate on

issues,

first. We would not be far


them "conversation puns, occasions

work from the

in calling
a

whole

fixing as a

and nonartistii

series ol artistu

from the nature

objects, to tin historn


is

neither merely a tribute to Pollock's rushing


life,

icon,

psychopoetk experimentation thai has characterized

more focused

and materially by the processes enacted

material fact about paint

different

same game

is

articulated verbally by the labels, visually by the


dissolving reflection that surmounts the

They seek

itself.

of this artistic life cycle, its

inches (3.64

'-*

artist.

These retrospective paintings look

which the

memorable

his art, his life rushing out in

same time as it refers us back to the


monumentalizing of this process into an artistic dead
end
the myth of the macho expressionist creator
whose private fetishes become public totems.
is

feet ll'/ 2 inches x 7 feet 10

and chaotic oblivion.

paint, at the

Morris's picture

1 1

2.41 m). Collection of the

refers

the original pouring

process of Action Painting, the figure of the artist

merging with

aluminum,

looking

ot

al

at

ami labeling

harai ter of artistii

production, to the institutional histor\ and disioursi


that

makes these onversations


(

of the day. " whatever they


1994, these works will

unreadable,

lil

U
j

will

possible.

be

in

On

the "issues

the winter

ol

almost inaudible and


paintings Morris executed in

.1

f>

V
LASt MAK
AND FURIOUS YOU GET AHEAD WITH THE DOT AND OASH SYSTEM OH MAMMA
CANT GO THROUCH \YIIH
WILL CHECK ANO BE DOUBLE-CHECKED AND PLEASE PULL FOR ME
EASE
HAO NOTHING WITH HIM HE WAS A COWBOY IN ON
VEN DAYS A WEEK FIGHT YEAH OKAY NOTHING TO BE SAIO AGAINST THE LAWS WHICH GOVERN THIS PROBLEMATIC NO FRIENDS N
1ST WHAT YOU PICK UP ANO WHAT YOU NEED OH GO AHEAD THAT HAPPENS FOR CRYING
WANT HARMONY
DON T WANT HARMONY
IMMA MAMMA NO THERE WERE ONLY TEN OF US AND THERE ARE TEN MILLION FIGHTING SOMEWHERE IN FRONT Of YOU
"OUR
ttONS UP AND WF WILL THROW UP THE TRUCE FLAG
SAY TO THEM AND TO YOU. MY BELOVED THIS IS MY BODY AT WORK OH PI
T ME UP LEO LEO' OH YEAH
SURE IT IS NO USE TO STAGE A RIOT THE SIDEWALK WAS IN TROUBLE ANO THE BEARS WERE IN 1ROUBLE
BROKE IT UP LOVE ME ANALYZE THE CORPUS THAT
10
TENDER TO YOU THAT EXTEND ON THIS BED OF METAL PLEASE OH MAMMA
AT IS SOMETHING THAT SHOULON T BE SPOKE ABOUT PLEASE
MAY TAKE ALL EVENTS INTO CONSIDERATION NO NO ANO IT lb NO IT IS
NFU-tO AND IT SAYS NO A BOY HAS NEVER WEPT NOR DASHED A THOUSAND KIM SORT OUT THE QUOTATION MARKS FROM THt HAIRS
OM HEAO TO TOE THANK YOU SAM YOU ARE A BOILED MAN 00 IT BECAUSE YOU ASKED ME TO PLEASE LOOK OUT IT WAS DESPER
THEY WON T LET ME UP THEY DYED MY SHOES AND IF YOU LOVE ME ENOUGH YOU WILL SEND MF SON
E AMBROSE A LITTLE KIO
KNOW WHAT AM OOING HERE WITH MY COLLECTION OF PAPERS FOR CRYING OUT LOUD IT ISN T WORTH A NICKLl TO TWO
tS
CANT DO ANOTHER THING
AM ALL THROUGH
Kl YOU OR ME BUT TO A COLLECTOR IT IS WORTH A FORTUNE OK OK
VMMA MAMMA THEN YOU WILL BURY ME IN OROER TO SLEEP PEACEFULLY COME ON MAX OPEN THE SOAP DUCKETS TALK TO \b
'ORD LET THEM LEAVE ME ALONE YOU WILL FORGET ME ME AND MY NAME
I

Prohibition* End or the Death ot Dutch Schultz


inches (248.6
Collection ol the

7B KOI

irl

1989
x

182.2 cm).

1963 on newspapers covered with headlines about the

Cuban
what

Missile Crisis.

art

On

the fundamental questions of

what it might attempt, and what our


might be, they may be bombs refused by

is for,

relation to

it

popular disrespect, bricks flying in the night toward an

unknown

destination.

Robert Morris, entry from unpublished Dream Journal, October 28,

set in sans serif type are

1990. All further extracts

One

2.

flat

gray paint on the Minimalist objects of the 1960s. As David Antin

notes, this gray

became

signature and to that extent, perhaps,

"a

somewhat independent of any individual work,


(

from the same source.

notable exception to this generalization might be Morris's use of

"Art

&

Information,

[April 1966], p. 56).

Grey

like

Newman's

stripes"

News 63,

Paint, Robert Morris," Art

no. 8

At the same time, the paradoxical implications of

using a neutral color like gray as a signature of a personal style can


hardly be ignored.

mask

for

The noncommittal

any personal identity,

character of grayness

more

is

like

kind of coloristic "John Doe"

signature that signals Morris's refusal to underwrite his works with

claims to authentic or personal self-revelation.


Morris, "Notes on Sculpture," Artforum 4, no. 6 (February 1966),

3.

reprinted in Minimal Art:

(New York: Dutton,


4. See

Critical Anthology, ed.

Barbara Rose, "The Odyssey of Robert Morris," and Terrie

Deny

Sultan, "Inability to Endure or

Deny

or

the World," in Inability

6-10 and

Endure

1-23, respectively.

See Roberta Smith, "A Hypersensitive

Thing," The

New

Nose

for the

York Times, January 20, 1991,

See Clement Greenberg, "Towards a

6.

to

World, exhibition catalogue (Washington, D.C.: Corcoran

the

Gallery of Art, 1990), pp.


5.

Gregory Battcock

1968), p. 223.

Next

H,

sec.

Newer Laocoon"

New

p. 33-

(1940), in

The Collected Essays and Criticism, ed. John O'Brian (Chicago: University
of Chicago Press, 1986), pp. 23-37.
7.

Craig Owens, "Earthwords," October, no. 10

8.

Rosalind E. Krauss, "Grids," in The Originality of the Avant-Garde and

Other Modernist Myths (Cambridge, Mass.:


9.

See Morris's essay

Postmodernism,"

"Words and Images

(fall

MIT
in

1979), pp. 125-26.

Monument Dead Monument/Rush

Press, 1985), p. 8.

Encaustic on aluminum,

Modernism and
337^47;

Critical Inquiry 15, no. 2 (winter 1989), pp.

(3.64

feet

1 1

Life Rush, 1990.

1 1 '/z

2.41 m). Collection of the

inches

10

x 7 feet

/8

inches

artist.

and W.J.T. Mitchell, "Ut Pictura Theoria: Abstract Painting and the
Repression of Language," Critical Inquiry 15, no. 2 (winter 1989),
pp. 348-71, for a discussion of this history.

Key on Hook (1963, no. 28), a cabinet with lock and key and the

10. See Morris's discussion of writer/artists like

Gabo, Kandinsky,

Malevich, and Mondrian, who, he writes, "contributed to a growing

body of theoretical

texts,

some

in the

form of manifestos, which grew

up alongside the material production of the images.


Images
1

1.

in

Modernism and Postmodernism,"

Morris, "American Quartet," Art

."
.

("Words and
10 (December

1981), p. 104.

Modern Sculpture (Cambridge, Mass.:

MIT

Press,

be closed

Harold Rosenberg, "Defining Art," The

1967, reprinted

forever.

19- I'm thinking here of the "case" as the concept

sociological "case," see Charles C.

in Battcock, p.

New

Yorker, February 25,

306. See also, Michael Fried's

literal

hidden inside a

position, "one that can be formulated in words,

formulated by some of

its

and

in fact has

been

leading practitioners" ("Art and Objecthood,"

Artforum [June 1967], reprinted in Battcock, pp. 116-17).

Rosenberg, "Defining Art,"

p.

"American Quartet,"

p.

An

serious treatment of Morris as a philosophical sculptor.

Expanded

Field," in The Originality of the

Avant-Carde, pp. 276-90.


18.

We

may

that the Minimalist pieces of the 1960s are hollow, but the

impossibility of looking inside

for

them

is

case),

is

also relevant here. I'm grateful ro

Is

its

James

bringing the sociological analysis of the case to

20. Fried accurately gauged,

my

think, the peculiar temporality involved

viewing of Minimalist sculpture, contrasting

it

to the sense of

part of the point

Morris's Leave

144-46.

21. Walter Benjamin, "Theses on the Philosophy of Histor.


illuminations, ed.

22.

owe

this

Hannah Arendt (New York: Schocken,

1969),

23- Morris's inscriptions to these works

move u

frame to image Thus

ot

U ntitled (1984): "None

down. Yet we have

seen

it

gathering

was nothing that could be done"


24. Benjamin,

p.

256.

analogy to Janice Misurell Mitchell.

dimensions suggested by the relation


inscription for

Sometimes, of course, Morris's "cases" cannot be opened.

know

What

The

hollow container, and

sculpture. See Fried, "Art and Objecthood," pp.

96.

Corcoran Gallery of Art, 1969), pp. 7-79, for the

17. Krauss, "Sculpture in the

Becker,

"instantaneousness" he associates with Modernist painting and

Aesthetics of Transgression," in Robert Morris, exhibition catalogue

first

as a

S.

Press, 1992), p. 9.

attention.

in the

305.

Annette Michelson's important essay, "Robert Morris

DC:

Ragin and Howard

and material figure of the "case"

Chandler

(Washington,

and the

figurative extension to hermeneutics (the secret or solution to a mystery

hypostasization of objecthood) and dependent upon an "ideological"

16. See

used in sociology

is

histories),

concomitant ambiguity about the theoretical/empirical status of the

characterization of the Minimalist object as "literalist" (understood as a

15. Morris,

and only one time and then would

a Case? (Cambridge: Cambridge University

1977), pp. 236, 199.

14.

inside," suggests another situation

elementary units of research. For an outline of the basic concept of the

12. Krauss, Passages in

13-

on hook

and psychology ("case" studies and "case"

p. 341).

m America 69, no.

inscription "Leave key

case that could be "looked into" one

"The

Work

all

toss the

will bt ready

these years.

(italics

of Art in the

temporal

when it touches
You laid that there

added).

Age

of

Mechutm

WJT

al

Mil

7 7

Reproduction

1936), in

III:.

American Quarter, p 105.

tis.

26. Ibid, p
27. Ibid

Roger Denson (Oi U That

Morris, "Robert Morris Replies to

M)

in

/'

Mil

ss

Pi

pp 287-315.
S

below, however,

tor

PUtonu concept

the

model

d an application ol a dialectical

phenomena

form, object, label, and

ol

Mums.

Morns

Robert

oi the

to the

in

Replies to Roger Denson,"

artist recapitulates his entire career as

which the

Kraz) Kat dialoj

series ol

with Minimalist objects as Ignatzian brinks


5

Morns. 'Notes

ulpture," p

Book Vll

Plato, Republic,

$2

Harvard University

Paul Shore) (Cambridge, Mass

8, trans

IV).

Press

159.

Morris,

question

remain hxed on the notion that

Museum

am

especial!)
.1

work

problem.nu

ol art

nothing

is

it

who

not

is

it

to

title

for critics

.1

Guggenheim

sting in this sort of paper currenc)

Mori

$7

nothing mor<

as

Richardson's attack on thi

tin

|i

nheim.
1

Art and

in

blueprints or certificates that confer

makes them

conceptual items,

material obj

human body

lumerous Minimalist works

documents,

oi

on the

also, Pried

relation to the

Objecthood," pp
35. Tlu
than folders

Sculpture,"

oi stale

The

New Ya
s

'.

19

1.

ulpture," p

usmj; the term

made

public sphere" in the sense

with Jiirgen

tlu critical tradition associated

familiar by

labermas, particularly his

historical stud) oi pub!


ni.is

rm

c<

Hans Namuth, Jackson Pollock

1950. Black and white

8x10

inches (20.3

25.4 cm).

Press,

\\ J

Mitt

\\ ittgenstt in,

I!

hi

II

(<

I'

of

hii

trans <

I!

rhe analysis of the importanct of Wittgenstein's philosoph)

in

Morns

would require a

s .in

would probabl)
a
Plnliiuijihu.il

t.iki

us key from

remarkabk

own

separate stud) In its

series

/-

thi

right,

to

and

connected with texts from the

Inn

Wittgenstein, Philosophical

il

in

mdtbt

vi rsirj

an

'public

Foi mor onthissubji

Anscomtx (New York Blackwell,


I

Mil

Burger (Cambridge, Mass

not to be confused with the notion oi

legal or bureaucratic smsi

its

photograph.

is

In

s
till

dis, iissioii o| tin

p.ir.illi

bi tWI

work of an and Marx's concept

oi tin

of tht

commodit)

fetish in

'

\\

Miti

Chapter

literalist

work
111

as

useful

though the work


I"

ts is,

in

("his

II

it

111 1)

lii, 1.1I

In

view, an index of their

'nothing to hide

they an hidinj

lasaninnei

in

my

ol

hollowness of mosi

th<

think insnlh.

insistence thai the) havi

said) thai

remarks on

Fried

.1

II,..

I,,,

niw isu\

>

hi 11,1

.<A (as

<

agi

might havi

antihermeneutii openness about


L.I. hi

inn

tii

rt

to

.'s,

is

thi

1I1,

pp

that havi thi abilit) toactivatt apublii sphen

rhe 'Uncani

Minii

7M

vol. 17, ed.

Wollheim's

classic essay,

e VI ollhi

im

Jami

Minimal Art,

Strai l"

.isih,'

Minimal Vn

\\

\\

p||

.111,1

llli

lliusl

Untitled. 1962. Painted newspaper page, 15 x 21

'

inches

(38.1 x 54.6 cm). Collection of the artist.

simple" associated with both his


Logico-philosophicus

own

Ego," Critical Inquiry 19, no. 4

atomic concept of the

also be understood as attempts to shatter the


earlier

work

in the Tractatus

59.

(1921) and the work of Bertrand Russell and the

Giroux, 1992),

Burnham, Beyond Modern

1967), Chapter

also Morris,

hope

it is

clear,

however, that

regard any

premature.

48. Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, p. 8.

50. Morris,

p. 10.

(summer 1993), pp. 62855.


Box (New York: Farrar, Straus,

Brillo

notion of the present as having gone "beyond history" as quite

logical positivists.

49. See Jack

Arthur Danto, Beyond the

1, for a

Sculpture

(New

York: Braziller,

discussion of the foregrounding of the base.

"American Quartet,"

p. 96.

On

the question of scale, see

"Notes on Sculpture"; Fried. "Art and Ob]ecthood"; and

note 20 above.
51. Morris, "Robert Morris Replies to

Roger Denson,"

52. See Michel Foucault, This

Pipe, trans.

Is

Not a

302.

p.

James Harkness

(Berkeley: University of California Press, 1982), Chapter 2, on the

"calligram" as "double cipher."


53. Antin, "Art
54.

The word

"Deictics," in

&

Information,"

"shifter"

is

p. 56.

Roman Jakobson's

term. See the entry on

Oswald Ducrot and Tzvetan Todorov,

Encyclopedic

Dictionary of the Sciences of Language, trans. Catherine Porter (Baltimore:

Johns Hopkins University


55. For

more on

Press, 1979), p. 252.

this concept, see

W.J.T. Mitchell, "Metapictures,"

Picture Theory (Chicago: University of

56 Wittgenstein, Philosophical
57. In this context,
'the

Investigations, p.

must disagree with Hal

("The Crux

ol

Minimalism,"

Angeles: Los Angeles

museum

is

is

somehow

essay,

macho

is

not a

exhibition catalogue [Los

of Contemporary Art, 1986], p. 172).

58. See Caroline Jones's discussion oi the reaction by the

generation against the

before oi

that the perceiver

not an ideological apparatus"

in Individuals,

Museum

178

Foster's suggestion that

minimalist delineation of perception ...

outside history, language, sexuality power

sexed body, that the gallery or

in

Chicago Press, 1994), pp. 3582.

<

cult of Abstract Expressionism in her

finishing School: John Cage and the Abstrai

Expressionist

M IT

!)

ON ROBERT MORRIS AND


THE ISSUE OF WRITING:
A NOTE FULL OF HOLES
There

In

my

to

deny that

to

draw

point.

an open

neither pleasure nor utility tn playing with

is

beginning

my

is

end, so to speak,

what follows

in

being hard

it

have only managed

might even be that

Balrasar Gracian, L647

from

simple error on his part, or whether

any event, an incredible irony

moments

at certain

deck.

result of a typo matters little in the end.

tew circles around an imperceptible

It

Jean-Pierre Criqui

is

subjecting these very lines to caution. Nonetheless,

would underscore the

from Donald Davidson's

and explores the implications

the philosopher had earlier

own de

his

made on

remarks

of the

these works

the third person

Morris"), redoubling as

in

works

moment when,

them, necessarily deferred

him

way

the
is

other spec

which

in

as transparent as

is

it

Morns

ii

the mirror

manifests
lly

explicit

aciri ularity

At

program

points

m.i n
i

.mi
Ii

it

is ,i\i

would normal 1)
onlj
I

om

Inn d

and

won

i.i

under

it*

havi

tli.u

who had

was madi

HO

b(

flu

r. tli.u

it

mi.

i\

is

most
raise

i<

in .in

bj

hi

thi
its

mi

ipli
rt

ader

omplete

In

19

gavi

hat
in

to

Mori

is

himself

1977 n movi

thi

pa siion

ti.

authot on purposi

win

tin

it

an

(for

tin

wj

oj

<

lapsed time,

taJ> quadrant mark

Tht last tun \entenct

and old

an

put

appropriate
In

>.

and mirrors

some

that

"Writing with Davidson" suggests

which the concept of tin essaj


tin author and tin readet In

both

In a

theoretii

tin

signed by an artist"
1

'"

al

is

extravagant

Iv

ess.a. after referring to the

systems" elaborated In
r\llowaj

lans

names

Sunt hson as

In-

more "informal' manner, pursued similar

Yet, leaving aside


ol

whom,

Newman

-m^\

Smithson

particular^, the second, doesn't

go without saying), could wt coda) affirm

reconsidering Morris's writings via the retrospei

lens ot

itablish

<>t

pagt thus

/ /At

for tht timi

bj a play ol echoes

mention

(thi

in

ij

Thi quadrants

nut.

metaphor

baroque,

in a

ts

projei

reallj

a sort ot

har:

second series of Blind

is

in tins

drawing,

tin-

duce on temporary American .mists who had. even

an)

way respond

tivi

that these texts in

"Writing with Davidson"

to the will to construct a "theoretii al

system"?
I

falsitj oi

"text

markabli thing about


is

,i

Hofmann and Josef A lints. Lawn net


Morns, Harnett Newman, and Robl m

doul

of

th-

I.

call

de< onstrui ted

The

"I" the

lift..

muted

though

It

o]

textual space in

wi

idson's Prim

more,

lower-left corner,

its

blindfolded and estimating

designated

n blind sin< e birth to

my direction, thi
i

is

ti

shred

Win

).i\

1.

"in interpreting

following senteni

last

.n

1<

the right

that in th<

V
tins assi

oi

laid

/>

>/.///./ ./> ./

xtimated area

would

Davidsons writing we would

onus

tw

tin

rn

tli.u

'I

What is
own program tor

purpose."

as

the- artist

that tinn

turn

in

the constant use ol

holism and rationality

nt\

to

e of a

In this there

to ke< p in nun.

in tins text,

Morris's reasons lor using

d b)

former)

(th<

Ids to a hardly less pet uliar

\ i<

win n

the consequi

.is

would be well

ii

which

of the latter,

(the latter)

inscribed in

ross

'ng

m tin

r<

prim iple

ot thi
itself

not uninteresting for the

parallel

clockwise, childhood, adolescence, maturity,

sets up an analog al
lationship between the
ommentar) and the work, establishes the lormer as

/ :> \l

through which

tive,

ffei

is

divided

this redoubling, this ruse that


,

is

until

One might

tator.

for either

example, Morris's

portrait ot

regaining his sight, he suddenly

in the place ol an)

happens

this

between making
metaphor and telling a lie is emphasized by the tact
that the same sentence can be used, with meaning

which

witness of his ow n finished drawing, puis

lie-

we are making: "The

latter

carried out blindfolded, so thai the

artists experience of

in

engaged

texts, are equally

de-centering or subjec tive distant ing that

of

the works under discussion themselves put in

the

the Blind

another drawing as well, with the philosopher

unchanged,

does

it

in

point

but be struck by the author's reference to himselt

place

all

between metaphor and falsehood;

relation

specifying something that

them. From

facto enrollment within

the opening sentence of Morris's text, the reader cannot

the type

"false.''

however, that

Davidson quotation that has been chosen concerns the

Davidson) (1991, nos. 152-56), onto

u ith

h are inscribed citations

and

tact,

with the problem of falsehood. In one drawing, the

turns to his series of drawings called Blind Timi IV

writings,

articulated within the context of the

both Morris's and Davidson's

most recent publication, Robert Morris

(Drawing

in the fact that the

Time IX drawings, judging trom the illustrations

begin.
In his

in

is,

only "I" here referring directly back to Morris himselt

the

imperceptible coincides with the improbable,

let's

the

is

it

There

ven more fundamentally,

on side

tin

is

it

legitimate to

essays published In various magazines

undei Morris's nami as a group separati from the

rest

Blind

Time

paper, 38

IV

(Drawing with Davidson), 1991. Graphite on

50 inches (96.5

127 cm). Collection

of the artist.

Time

Blind

ol Ins

(Drawing with Davidson),

IV

detail.

homogem

work, sufficiently autonomous and

nstitute

rpus?

what the

Si, mi

thing that

.is

manner of the

in thi

ous

raditionall) qualify

where Morris's imagt


ol

is

framed

the

.is

"I

by virtut

that letter being a constructed element, the almost

form of which figured in

identical

olum n (p 90),

'

wandering

orpse stagi

Han

Troubli witi

<l

by Alfred Hitchcock in

(1955) persists
to identifii ation

mi

in

which, even before

Morris's visual

zn

sci

itsi

langu
will mil

thi

its

om

<

><i

thi

sam<

n. inn

ol

I),

in

viewer/usei
h ch

hii

(1963

no

-a,

!1),

as Hi.

l!

.i.l

li

hum

with ns

wit

Withdrawal (V)65, no

22), in

inpaj

MK

., ili.

\. n Vbrk

.l.uli' s

l-B

c (

the

As

of

proposes

1962 no

II

196

i.

inisi

Box, tins imbrication

verbal in 21

ol thi

according to which the

from thi start as a u rittt u u


km. ol reflexiveness that

itself

In

In hi\

.i

.is

kuul

.i

ol

su< h,

ol

what

banner (the

among

othi

is.

is

when

chi

written notes assembled

author assumi a function comparabli to thai

its

the noises insidi

in urn

.1

(1962, no 26), a perfectly

Fi/i

tautological object

ol

.inn

itsell .is art's subji

of Card

casi

no

n<s ol

seems the parodii (and nightmarish) double

Yori

and 21

wind the requiremt

thi

often goes along with

1961, no

would
way

whethei

bi

thi
11

Box with

willing to bet

hai a

thai ilmsi

in .mill her, havi

in thi

thi

Sound of Its

Own

would show

iii\inini\

New

intelligibility necessary to the ritual ol

objei

th<

rforman<

in

and

Makir,

r,

p<

visual

In

C\
f

i
i

,.|

itanh

for the worl

piei

which Moi

from

and

mi

lei

medium

artist

I960

.i

rationalitj

Modi

raved with a word, and Statemt


/,

Marcel Duchamp's texts through


.,

..I

ulpture,"

sign

th<

&

in

which scatters to
the

Performance Switch

direct address to a

drawing Litai

appropriated

waj

recall th<

range of this relationship,

thi

following

ill-

I960), and

up undi

It

order to sketch

In

Notes on

1966

thi

[aiming us right

we must

reply to this question,

.1

in

used

mi

ci(

u lous

works bj Morris that,


to

langua

form of writing or of speech (wi might

think of pieces with taped accompaniment, such as

//

Hearing [1972, no. 88] and Voice [1974, no. 126], where

indoor art object can do no

the

amount of text involved

vastly exceeds that of

any of his publications), are by

From which
"writings"

it

follows that

and

we have

its

ambiguity

radical

with

from the one we turn to the contributions

by Albers or

Newman

in this area: so

itself necessarily

something

transpiring in

artistic

is

relate to writing alone, in

Not

that this latter form

stranger to Morris.

It's

for

a hard

and

fast theoretician

this brief period,

has stuck to him. ' During

which corresponds

object

(its

his art

from the constructed

witness:

first

and

whom

Phenomenology

which
of,

but what?

"The

His ambition

as the philosopher

"making" (where,

is

among

cavity to

"forms" can

Morris reconnects

name

when
June).

Making," theater and dance,

to act such that "the


is

is

not behind the

that

we recognize

in

many

and projects from the opening years

the next of Morris's essays. "The Art of Existence.

Three Extra-Visual
published
proposes

in

Artists:

Works

itself as

author

is

at length

then

tells

and

in the

simply developing his ideas on the need


al

autonomy. This essay begins with the declaration:

most serious

how, the previous

(a fantastical

end

of

funi

date since, as

solstice,

What

it's

the

of course, that occurs at the end of

follows

becomes more and more curious.

Turrell, Blaim

have heard of him;

yet the

<

moment

March and of September,

ghost

[aims m

of

1970) hover for an instant over tin

volunteered the information that

to

Joseph Kosuth and

\\

Morris

is left

to

ai ul

good friend had

them had decided


from now on they were going to do 'pig art.
at

Kent and the

You know, pig art as art as

the next link on the chain initiated

break with the work of art's traditional physii

He

Asked about James

that

at first

by "Notes on Sculpture," and leads one to believe that


its

narrow

indicates, the equinox designates the

been killed

in Process,"

Artforum in January 1971,

recounts: "A friend of Blaine's riding in the car

then resurfaces, and in the most extraordinary manner,


in

which one gains entry through

the shadow of Smithson's Partially Buried

the very substance of the work.""

The burlesque element


of the pieces

as well

for their ability

making process

Marvin Blaine, excavated

first artist,

night and day are of equal length;

Phenomenology

scenes but

The

in the year, at the

summer

of

consists of the description

by the "sunrise equinox"


its

half of the 1960s, beginning with the dances and

and music, are mentioned

the direct

he attended the progressive invasion of this chamber

performances. At the end of "Some Notes on the

as film

itself in

into the side of a hill in Ohio, a sort of uterine

possible tone.

with the underlying spirit of his work from the


first

room

which Morris reports

many

the precise function of critical

other ornamented objects, paintings and

the

in Morris's view, as

he-

generally thought of as the original aesthetic

interest,

in the final products),

know

passage and about the travails of the construction of

"techniques of the body," implied in the activity of

be found as

Marcel Mauss would

say, in

be to describe their work as

will

which places

Making."" By means of his


1

of

artists

are devoted to

calls "existence art"; "so far as

sculptures.

who

these artists are unaware of each other's work,"

are cited, both the

work of three young

he knows personally and

of an opposition (arrange/build) so can the present

in

Nauman

After this preamble, Morris announces that his


essay will attend to the

arrange. Just as that solution can be framed in terms

be framed dialectically: don't build

henceforth be

Michael Asher, Larry Bell,

commentary and which

"The Minimal

Drop, hang, lean, in short act," we read

1,

will

it

participates in the

descent from the Greek literary genre of ekphrasis,

presented a powerful solution: construct instead of

shift

defined as

being illustrated as well.

last

activity after all,

Paralleling this voyage in the direction of process, the


its

who

Robert Irwin, and Bruce

faithfully as possible

this his experience)

to its bursting apart into the notion of "anti-form."

writings constitute

experience of this art."

writes. "

bond with the space that houses

and the spectator that makes

loot

has a better idea.

manner that,
downstream (from,

the artist to the viewer),

is,

what he

to the respite

from a recourse to language in his visual work,


traverses the full span leading

that

in

within this category that the label of

fall

deco with

there follow reflections on the interest

located within the one

the very fact that, between 1966

the six articles

the

to <trt

treat the issue of process in such a

is

of

so obviously

it

or

the text as a tool in the

portable,

"environmental," that, being "literally objectless,"

Sculpture" to

on the

Fordprobably

number of recent works,

of a certain

"Some Notes
from "Notes on
Making: The Search
Phenomenology
published
Motivated"
Artforum

and 1970

applied liquitex references

transferred from upstream to

and dissemination of ideas

static,

than carry a decorative

about as much anticipation as one reserves for the

From which

writing

suggests that

what seems to
the sense of commentary

of theory building.

registration of

much

won

next season's polished metal boxes, stretched tie dyes

thi

next year's Oldsmobile

different eye

within the art object

truism at this point that the

.i

and elegantly

to look at his

already the term can scarcely be used

without signaling

ms

load that becomes increasingly uninteresting. One waits for

most numerous.

far the

tet

to Blaine,

demands

who

at this

art.'"

fiercely

<

Th< summing up

funis not to be an art ist

that, lest his efforts b( perceived as art,

no photographs be made

The

five of

of

them.

slightly credulous (or distrai ted) reader,

point

still

thinks the article to be report..

who

Notes on the Phenomenology

on the

certainly begins to have doubts with the entry

Making already

of

scene of Jason Taub, a Californian artist whose artistic

alluded to the "totally physically paralyzed conclusions

medium

of Conceptual art"

for he,

we

are told, unlike Blaine, considers

himself absolutely an

artist

"The Art

constituted by

is

radio frequencies, specifically in their extra-auditor)

dimension. Taub (the word means "deaf"

who admires Michael Asher


his

in

work too "aestheticized," shows himself

Taub spun out lengthy

which

of

the author confesses

more or

certain

Netherlands, two years after the publication of


the essay in question). This implies that the imaginary

theoretical

But with the third character

whom we

to

composite characters,

who

Robert Dayton,

the satirical tradition dear to Swift or Voltaire, but,

are

The word "heteronym"

by the anesthetics used while he was hospitalized,

compliant

the effects of various diffusions.


projects

One

the physics of which, as

eloquent of

Orgone Box

Reich's

me

for

guest takes his

MbMA,

.Strew the

but see what

morality long ago postulated by Samuel Butler

memorable phrase

in the

hate inaccuracy," the author supplies

ompanimi
drawing

ol the

a skit' h

and

also

finally, a

drawing by Dayton

shown

ol

photograph

in a

uments seeming to
hand)

A'

the

havi

equipment

<e.u

episode with Dayton

com

ctivt

19

in

h<

ek

'

J,

ol

then

bits

century

A./

changt .iinl

opt ning

as

itselt

thii u ori

((

that functions on

oj //-/I

plam

Taub and Dayton) allou

tpecially that of

hi inh rat tion

tu een the wort

In

a new
oj

level.

xpi >/ nee,

qualitatively diffi n nt from

multiple

on

a sea of

Ebb

the

in

of tierasa

its

could also

self

words

It

bt

thus

is

an intensely

Tide,

text,

which Morris published

own

ob|ei

and thi

which

to

me
n

family n
u in
/;/

establishment

It is thi

thi possible

perceive*

teems

tamem

\/i

rnal

tin

r<

Art's vagui

oj

shattering

the \ami turn delineating their

in

"/

causal, hi reditary, genealogical

,i

claim

maintenance

tequena

./> ./

.it

mblanci

tin niJirnlti.il

holding in suspension

ts:

last half-

mint. mi

and rationalizi

in

./

mythical status n

tlm contradiction,

i/</<

But

urious

first

prodm

tions in tin

inula

bit

tet

/>/

relation does t/>n discoursi stand to thi art facts


i

\ponsi to

what

thosi

with

thi

appearand tobi already halfway suspended into

language?

objects, that teems significant.

art

fai

t<

m m to contain thi

dualpou

<

yond

its satirii al
1

hi

harai

ti

itatus ol thi

hitherto published in Artforum

thrown
Ii

in. iii

li

.11

1.

various prat titiom


ili/. n

'.hi M

inn ol

Mill

In

r,

whit h

bnaks with

Morris texts

yond

bt

rs ol

thi

arth an

barbs
01

object (a passagi from

the

Somt

to

and destroy i/>m/'. For as they call speech


out from tt\ own domain it teems mi approach / melt and
mergi with art facts, tobecomt hallucinated and entangled,
losing //> ability to surround and separate. On the othi r
both vtini.it,

hi

in

t;

major task of art's discount over thi


been to mediah

identity of art /.//>

nothing ttartlingly neu about environmental

is

man

ol tins

Splashes

disjunctions whili

(The famous "My name

Mark, would provide Morns with

maxim

takes

./\/"//i

\'.

after the delirious

resumes the detat hed and

ol thi

self.

com< from a different

articles conclusion

dryly obji

historj ol at least

notion of the divided, polymorphous,

metaphoric, rhetorical

is

an

of his work, both visual and textual,

ol art are afloat

Some

that

whi< h

these graphic

of

ording to the same tongue

tin

Ii

in

oming emblem

But the

"Works

of
ol

Gospel

rather bet

Morns;

bj

not

himself

Robert Morris, the eighteenth-

Legion." spoken by the possessed

in the

Blaine, a

underground chamber, made

hamber," pan

documentary

foj

much

Morris exploits

is

notebook page, both from the hand

and,

ib;

Ins "ga

three reviews:

for Ins

homonym

changing, and "diabolical"

do not mind Lying but

of tailing

century English architect and theoretician. At any


rate, in

accordance with the narrative

In

leav<

While Morns does

one." the burden of originality has. perhaps, been

one perfect

Auschwitz," he cries as his

at

"No

lightened by the existence

tint he promises will be "ten times jui< ier than Willy

you can do

names; Scul.

last

enjoy the privilege, as Pessoa did,

described

Negative Ion Chamber"

is

life

them given the most


Anon. Sean h. and so on.

authors, certain of

he wrote their works as well.

of Dayton's

it is

suggests the example of

Pessoa not only wrote the biographies of these men,

between Frankenstein and Erich

for us, suggests a cross

Von Stroheim

peculiarly

invited to enter in order to experience

is

many

invented

at

heteronyms.

of aliases, or

Fernando Pessoa, who oxer the course of his

and inspired

constructs "gas chambers," which Morris

group

least in part, a

two-thirds of his sight as the

lost

is

settling scores with certain of his betes noircs, as in

presented, the text descends into a level of pure farce.

result of an accident with sulfuric acid,

"The Art of
we should say, are not only)
bj means of which the author

their appearance in

Existence" are not (or

agreeable perceptual experiments.

less

making

artists

remembered nor understood,"


and submits his visitor to

neither

Art in Washington. D.C., tor example.

of

or Observatory [no. 109] . constructed in 1971 in the

frequency

of radio

think, the affinity the

1969 outside the Corcoran

[no. 102], installed in

be more

to

is.

describes have with several of Morris's (Steam

it

Gallery

scientific research

explanations for the perception

most

German),

but, nonetheless, finds

concerned with technology and


("In conversation,

projects

the most striking feature of

).

of Existence"

band, tpeech teems a/most toftou from art which


languagi

./>

much

as

'

liy,lit

reflects

Ft

8/7/62, 8:45 pm

Discovered in black brief case:

blank cards, 6

cards with the following categories: Considerations,


Future, Locations, Changes, Responses - Actual,

Responses - Predicted, on one card the scribbled


note: "Role of ideas - make the work not self-contained, refer to, stand for,

sign" and further

down on card the notation: "Sign


Form"

(See Loses)

over its
A card from Card

In these words, one

might hear the echo of a very

File,

1962

(no. 26).

pursuit of the contradictory, be

being as an effect of saying. Shamed from the time

making,

of

its

saw

condemnation by Plato and Aristotle (who

in

it

the empire of pseudos,

kingdom of the

reality."

false

and of falsehood), sophism has, nevertheless, been

The

intermittently resurgent.

discourse of sophistry

refuses to be submitted to the law of noncontradiction;


it is

the

latter's

for the

part of

connected to play,

it is

in

capacity to produce reality. Morris's taste

profoundly sophistic

artist,

an oxymoron

"fiction," in

He

which there

is

is

zfictor, as in the

sculpture), pretense,

and

In Morris's 1978 essay

word

(as in

the history of art

"I"

"The Present Tense of

here
is

"art

within

its

seen as a kind of latent

material, something like the words in a dictionary,

awaiting a narrator to propel


a narrative.

of his love of rhetorical

Morris's unhesitant reliance here

is

on an

understood

in a sense exactly opposite to that proposed by Michael

on Minimalism." So much

and

for the

for

America
art by

for the clarity of the

comprehension of future

"American Quartet," published

in 1981,

it

debate

scholars.

Art

in

in

presents itself as an essay on the

American contemporary

in

Joseph Cornell, Duchamp, Edward Hopper, and

Morris's text

is

editorial "we"

followed by

five

"Commentary,"

presumes

long paragraphs
in

in

winch an

to dissociate itself

from the

foregoing analysis:

and an aesthetic of the "me,"

meaning

history," not the discipline

"Make

themselves

italics, entitled

novelistic invention.

Space," which tries to establish the difference between

an aesthetic of the

symptom

Jackson Pollock. In an uncustomary manner,

an etymological

superimposition of the notions of modeling

typical

founding roles played

reminiscent of Ravel's description of himself


as "artificial by nature."

and of arguments that turn against

entirely theatrical notion of "presentness"

As

palimpsest, the mask, and the palinode

make him

reversals

sword-

in art or in

rhe only basis for perceiving dialectical

is

2 ''

it

Fried in "Art and Objecthood," his famous attack

not sustained by truth, but by contingency

and appearance.

"The

"contradictions"; or, as the essay concludes:

ancient principle, that of the Sophists, which posits

Claim

them

into motion:

development

in retrospect.

Invent history," without worrying about the inevitable

We always

enjoy reading Morris's articles. But

said that, like


reat deal.

his art. tin}

Wt cannot

havt tended

let this

to

it

mu

wander around

one pass without noting

certain gaps, stretches of muddy prose,

wmt

extremely

questionable assumptions, constructs which jn rhaps exist


mostly in Morris's mind,

etc.

85

Some time

the Editor appeared

later, a letter to

Robert Morris,

I .

n:

Some Afterthoughts after

Doing Blind Tr

Commentary.

that protested this "unsigned editor's

.t:.m 19,

(summer 1993), pp 61727 A

To which came the rip

Davidson's test.

ised version of

originally published in the catalogue tor the exhibition ol these

id no oni u uuld ask

an

although most

drawings (Allencown. Pa

appears in the

fine Duchampian
hand behind the unsigned Commentary. And

Writing with Davidsoi

iris,

1976

4.

that

.'

The Third Man.

initial double

Mori

ert

Frank Martin Gallery, Muhlenberg Colli

.:

sai

is

the date given, tor example, in the exhibition cataloj

it u

ot Art.

complex essay published by Morris

Robert Mori

Jonathan Fineberg,

Sepi

Without question, the most important and most


ol the

in recent years is

(oil.

unpaginated

)SJi.

Williams

(Williamstown, Mass

Museum

published interview specifies that

An

Back

pp 11415

'80),

it

Interview,'

end

note ai the

took place

1977 Ivkti

in

an audieni

"Three Folds

the Fabric and Four Autobiographical

in

dates From 1989.

Its

epigraph places

who

authority of Michel Foucault,

This occurs

6.

Asides as Allegories (or Interruptions)," which

in a

commandment,

made of Da'

there enjoins one

Morris intercuts his reflections on the

state of current art with reminiscences

The opening meditation attempts


three contemporary types

Modernist abstract, with

on Ins past.

linarli.nl. ;:.

to distinguish

ol aesthetic

footnoti

discourse
articulated;

insistence on purity and

its

\\

rii mil'

it

arlimlati
ith

transcendence; sotiopolitK.il. with us desire lor


truth and rationality; and Anally a third, char.it terized

oth pervasive and submerged"


negative discourse

much

h< lias

under the

it

of oneself." In order to reply to this

get tree

oi

note relating to questions raised b) Morris

concerning the use

a part of

"It's a

proposal

some ways. Negations are


The second

in

The form of self-accusation, and

kind

It

as

oncerns his childhood

beginnings as an

and

artist,

time (with the work

of

in

Kansas

Ins

icy,

makes the

flag

whole catalogues about the way

those

"art stones'

of art

take shape.

that

we end up

in

ol

open

>

and then

to inn rpretation,

While Morns makes

commentary

writes
II

numbi

ubiquitous and questionable unanswered question) none sends up

at

whi< h

quicker than this oni

["h<

threatens to topple onto

art

telling than

kings

follow ing

by Morris in Ins desire to

A little farther on Morns


human behavior, an as wi

ol

questionable assertions throughout this text (not CO mention the

Reinhardc): the accounts arc funny, intense, or both

moral thai are

ot

self-mockery, that floods this

borrowed

ol voices

our search to make sense

murder

as rlu

Ins encounters at thai

Duchamp, Newman, Ad

-apologues without

"m

ol

whose importance should not be underestimated

highlights the plurality

that

meditation

a tro|x

is

escape an) fixed position, anj thesis

as assertions."

it

Davidson," p

a fed

suggestion of wanting to 'makt sms,

him

the wi ighl ol a vasl

rilual

nn

,.i

rpiisi

thai dismisses such an urge as not only naivi but impossibli

calling the histor)

Lawrence Alio way,

Artists as \\ riters,

Inside Information

Notes on

Morris's early texts an

Arboi

Mil h

Ml

oi;
l

Dana

Mi,l

/>

art

and evil?

>od

It

can

and does

worst moral climates. Perhaps because


tlval

with

<ilI

manner

whose naturt invites

oj

tht

it

wcial extn mi
investigation

i.

oj

[Ti\

...

flourish in tht

n amoral it can
It is

an

extremt

Mi.

Notes on Sculpt

six essays are (1)


!)

entt rprist

n printed

\rt
\.

no 6

m Sculptun

Noti

Vork Dutton, 1968

;;/..;/

Ami

i
|

and ust

ontain
ontrary

most
it

finds

ithout

and

has alu

it

and im

vitably

uches the

>

\,,n

sustains the contradit tor)

..

ili

aim tit

Form

pp
onthi

hi

its

<//>,/(//)

modernism

constantly
onci

it

became a
I

ilt /i t

mil

i/r

nl

am

not avt rlooking the

ii

from

mi ihi

pan

in thi

ipai

li

iln

vi i\

Noti

thai

on

&
|

win.

li

ii

ul|

vii

an evocation of thi Minimalist volumes then

ili>

its

bloi ks float in tin

si

mon

hi

Mans,

Fact thai

It
.a

\rt

little dij

in
i

fai

thi

hi

tlity

(pharaoh, pope, nobility, capitalism).

///i

upon and tervedone

ith littlt

Motivated

to relj

lished rules that rationalized a procedure, a


a

196

B [April I9i

is

in

momeni

whi
I

ii

In.

li

he had lead

a/way propaganda
i

Iranslati d

HI,

from

chi

Pr< n<

h by Rosalind

Km

...I.

l\

idi

nniii

.1

III

Morns, "Some Notes on the Phenomenology

10.

of

Making,"

makes most suggestive reading. For dissimulation (and

p. 66.

"The Art of Existence. Three Extra-Visual

12. Morris,

Works

Artists:

in

lineage of Strauss,

13. Ibid.

L'Eiuperetir Julien

interesting to recall that one of the

the turn of the second century A.D.,

is

by

raised

famous collection of ekphraseis edited

Philostratus's Eikones, the

in

main problems

reflect

on the

fact that the ekpbrasis

founder of the genre

considered as the absolute

the description in Homer's Iliad of the torging of

Achilles's shield by Hephaistos

the

is

work of an author known

in the

is

t!

the short and fascinating text by Alexandre Kojeve,

ton art J'ecrire (Paris:

dose of sprezzatnra, has something in

Fourbis, 1990).

Morns, "The Art of Existence,"

it

is

accompanied by

most bizarre and perverse examples

Age

One

French by M. Blanc-Sanchez

De

as

I'honnete dissimulation (Lagrasse:

Verdier, 1990). In his prologue, Accetto explains the shortness of his


as follows:

in disguise has

18. Ibid., p. 33.

what

"But

my work

17. Ibid.

wrote

Moms,

should be pardoned

for

having been made to

in its present, partly bloodless state,

meant that

at the outset

because to write

dissimulate and that, to this end,

had

to

much

"Three Folds in the Fabric and Four Autobiographical

19. Ibid.

30.

Asides as Allegories (Or Interruptions)," Art in America 77, no. 9

"Some Notes on the Phenomenology of Making,"

p. 63-

22. Concerning Pessoa and the dizzying proliferation of his literary

personae,

refer to the collection

Malle pleine de gens

of essays by Antonio Tabucchi, Une

Para [Paris: Christian Bourgeois, 1992;

(trans. J. -B.

(November 1989),
31.

"No

art

of

be amputated."

20. Ibid.

21. Morris,

of the

the treatise by Torquato

Accetto, Delia dissimulazione onesta (1641), recently translated into

publish

p. 30.

is

a large

of that of the secretaries,

from Machiavelli to Baltasar Gracian by way of Castiglione.

work

classical tradirion as blind.

16.

often urgent

counselors, and courtesans of the Renaissance and the Classical

at

whether the paintings described

such minute detail actually existed. In the same line of thinking, one

might

its

Leo Strauss, Persecution and the Art of

Morris's form of dissimulation, which

14. Ibid., p. 29.


is

is

Writing (London: Free Press, 1952). Less known, but in the direct

Process," Artferum 9, no. 5 (January 1971), p. 28.

15. It

work

necessity), the classic

LI. Ibid.

p. 148.

comes without

prescriptive text

its stories.

which imposes

rules

An

art story

by which

its

is

once a

at

participants learn to

play a certain kind of game; a genealogy of certain events and of

1990]), which contains in an appendix the astonishing "Letter to Adolfo

certain sets of enduring, often conflicting desires; and a concatenation

Casais Monteiro on the genesis of the heteronyms," written by Pessoa

of traits, tropes, obsessions and historicized accounts by apologists

in

my

1935: "The origin of

hysterical tendencies.

found

in

my

Mark

23.

heteronyms

The mental

is

located in

origin of

my

my

profoundly

heteronyms

to be

is

organic and continual tendency toward depersonalization

and dissimulation"

on

1-20. Jean Starobinski provides a remarkable commentary

5,

story

is a

seek to legitimize an ideological position. In short, an art

discourse particular to an enterprise which pretends to

revolve around the producrion of a certain unstable class of

individually produced

(p. 145).

this passage in "Le

who would

Combat

avec Legion," in Trois Fureurs (Paris:

32. Morris, "Notes

handmade

on Art

as /and

more

or less

artifacts" (ibid, p. 143)

Land Reclamation,"

October, no.

12

(spring 1980), pp. 101-02.

Gallimard, 1974), pp. 73-126.

"Some Splashes

24. Morris,

in the

Ebb Tide," Artforum

no.

(February 1973), p. 43.


25.

On

the

first

(thar of Protagoras, Gorgias,

and others, which was

denounced by Plato) and second phases of Sophistry (which crystalized


in the oratorical art

Rome

of second-century

and played a

role in the

contiguous development of ekpbrasis and the novel), see the two volumes
of anthologies

assembled under the direction of Barbara Cassin,

and Le

de la sophist ique (Paris: Vrin, 1986);

Positions

Plaisir de parler (Paris:

Minuit, 1986).

"The Simulacrum and Ancient Philosophy," Gilles Deleuze's text


on the "reversal of Platonism" and
acceptance of the power of the

continuation in the modern

its

false, first

and foremosr

in the

work

of Nietzsche, remains a fundamenral reference for thinking about these


issues in relation to recent art practice (The Logic of Sense, trans.

Mark

[New York: Columbia

Lester

Universiry Press, 1990; 1969],

pp. 25379). In addition, Clement Rosset's

L Anti-nature

(Paris:

PUF,

1973) usefully summarizes the principal oscillations between natural


and

Not

artificial

thinking within the development of Western philosophy.

surprisingly, one notes Morris's recent quote, in "Writing with

Davidson" (pp. 622-23), from the seminars of Jacques Lacan, one of the
great contemporary sophists: "I

make

a distinction

between language

and being. That implies that there could be word-fiction


starting from the

word"

(Encore,

Seminar

XX

[Paris:

mean

Le Seuil, 1975]

p. 107).

26.

Morns, "The Present Tense of Space," Art

in America 66, no.

(January-February 1978), pp. 70, 80.


27

Mi< hael Fried,

Art and Objecthood," Artforum (June 1967),

reprinted in Battcock, pp.


28. Morris,

1981),

p.

1647.

"American Quartet," Art

in

America 69, no. 10 (December

104.

29- See the letter, signed "Donald Hoffmann," in Art in America 70,
no. 2 (February 1982), p. 5.

There

is

considering Morris and his writings

material in this letter for


in the light

of the history of the

counterfeit and of literary dissimulation. For the former, the book by

Anthony Grafton,

Forgers

and Critics:

Creativity

and Duplicity

in Western

Scholarship (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press. L990)

JEAN-PIER

!<

'

87

CATALOGUE

COLUMNS,

nning

in 1954,

1961

Robert Morris, a young San

own

began their own workshop

the hollow

what we

pioneering work

San Francisco

in

Halprin repressed.'

felt

use

games

to structure

tor

own development

Morris's

of

New

Morris visited

York City

the spring

in

column during

occupied

ot his

unbuffered

using an offstage string

of

Morris

the group of dancers, choreographers.

composers, and visual artists associated with the


Judson Dance Theater, which included, among others,

Beam

/.

1965, nos. 2-

by Merce Cunningham, the dancers brought certain

time, drew

conventions with them, such as partnering or turning

Forti's

own body

as if "on poini
of

>,

the positioning of bodies

its

of one's

this

first

1961

all of

ot his

no.

in

>

allude to the

hit h

emphasis on

lust as

space

developing

and the

the anti-

cxpressivc reduction ot the column-as-perfbrmer, with

that the spectator

onventions were critiqued trom the poini

the years

in

original Living Theater performance's

Rainer, and Robert Raust hcnbcrg. Previously trained

made

Columns

In

Lucinda Childs, Alex Hay, Sieve Paxton, Yvonne

around the tenter

marked

that

"abstract" sculpture continued to characterize the

<>!

Minimalism:

These

a result

the final performance.

in

The anthropomorphism
objects that Morris

(it

the piece.

ot

led to the necessary expedient

tall

I960, returning to California tor another of Halprin's

part

the performance and,

during the rehearsal

it

summer workshops. He moved permanently to


New York with Forti early that tall Soon after,
became

of its

The subsequent head injurj Morns received as

and sculptor.

as both dancer

move

to

accord. He, therefore, had planned to be inside

in tact,

her improvisational development


sequences, and her
props and
movement was formative

of voice narrative
rule

order to

in

Forti's

seem

"expression." the object should

of Ann Halprin's dance workshops; soon, the two

"explore

body was reinforced by

the dancer's

of

Morris's intention that, although stripped of all

dancer and choreographer, attended a number

Forti, a

surrogate

Francisco Absrract Expressionist painter, and Simone

naked relation to gravity and us requirement

submit

Morns

to the conditions ol real

closer to the ideas that were to

Dana Theaters

and the Judson

mark

task-oriented

dance vocabulary; that vocabulary was to reverberate

withm

evoh ing

Morris's

st

ulpture, with

body-

its

John Cages musical ideas, understood as


examples ol how to break with traditional composition

related stale

The

olumm synchronousl) restage


column in
the Living Theater performam e, but the self-const ious
doubling ol the column set ins as well an embrace

view

ot

was the development

result

ordinary, in whit h "the objei

and

lived time, repetition,

abulary ot the

of a vo<

ation of

tint

movement,"

task- or play-driven

gestures prevailed. Forti's ideas, again, set the ag< nda

most

tor

what was developed

of

and

as

\oi< e as text

movement
<

sound

the Judson Dance

at

games with

contact, improvisation,

rheatei

dam

in

Jan,

issisik

and

based on prolessHni.il training. All


d singlehandt

Forti invt nt<

importanct

Voko

.n

It

ol

In

ot

hambers

first

ing

i\

In ati

in

In.

h cimi

and

ii

hall

11

foi

toppli

hi

maim
'

l<

concentrated into

[j

<

and
it

'I

prom

'I

the

chre<

p<

.1

["hen

minuti

s,

afti

sn ing from

anothei three and


rformi

vo po itions

chei

st

F01

painted

graj

no rol

with

foi
a

a hall

b)

as
1

11

mptj

BO

ralizi

tin"

It")

'I

tin

waj

leu tin

tni

which was developed


book //'< Sbapt

in his influential

is

an autonomous

the luminous strut tun

ol

ondut

it

ol

anj given

Thus, for example, he saw the

landscape as

ol

d In the mural painters

ot

[ere

ul.uu uni and

Boscoreale, then In seventeenth centur] artists, and,

Clzanne as successive stages

problem, ont whosi internal


parti)

the

it

apit ulatc.l

ol a single

must be grasped,

logie

wishing to

b\ ,nn artist

Tins notion ot

form-class furthei

morphological sequence played an important


Morris
(

in Ins

lunti

onstantin Bram usi


1

1-,

role foi

ollege master's thesis on

<

In

keeping with Kubler's

logii

subs, ribes to the notion, interchangeable with

formal sequence, thai "the entitj composed In

ofTsti

chi

olumn

anding am

olumn was undi

the "form-t lass,"

historn.il context.

Mm

l\

the multitudi ofpossibli danci gestures

liti

ot

For Kubler, a form-< lass

'.<

ing
l

down

George Kubler

develop

Ni Vbrk

event, he positioned an unadorned

olumn

the non 01

ol

and even

ulptural obji

in

onlj does Twoi,

finally, bj

1961

in

lofi

si

Not

stud)

these chinj

then adapted as

whi< h h<

ili.

stood erect

ol tin ks

Morris emphasizes the

<\\\

Street

ainting and built Ins

it

bag

I960 thai Morris rejected the enterprise

entitled Column,

ih'

time

the two positions successivelj taken by the

formal problem that txisis independent

ai

the ideas lorn developed in hei concert

ol

)nos

was

aimed

real

whie h pen eprion unfolds.

task gene rating

"in short, those strategies

rushing the nan

rules,

and us emphasis on the

to

till

ochi rwist

rstood as

Two Columns, 1973

iust

ii"

num. two
1243.8

1961

61

b\

ml

tinted

leheran

plywood.

n of a
units,

1961

each 96

Museum

ot

original

24

24

1973
in

Contemporary am,

<i

problem and

its

and that

Form-class develops through the "gradually

tin-

solutions constitutes

altered repetition ol

system

thesam<

ol l<>rm-i lasses

formal sequent es

Brant usi

work, espe<

also provides an entry into Ins

It

ially

tin

<>t

the

(Iteration ol tht

nomii

al

means

"l

is

by

th<

Ktn melj

While

for

ntitled

Morris had initially

planm

ipofnint L-beams,hi soon realized, in


ii

probli in

.it

n various positions
I

(hi

on

hand, thai
>>tn

both .inns forming an

its sidi

id in

IV!

tr.ut

repositioning

lying

own

developed serially through

same

muni

would

.1

set "t thi

seated
inv<

rr<

>l

upright,
\

February 19
M.iss

th< artist,

om

and ont

cablish tht form-class

Haven Yale University

.v

Decembei

thesis,

lust

WorkofConsrantin Brancusi,

Hunt.

from Kubler's when, as he puts


to the abhorred

p.

Mon

Kul
ideas

196

Press,

Classes in thi

unpublished master

work,

vhen

form

a prii

artist,

/'

Press

ovoid

ol the

Kr.iu-.s.

Communication from

This

akIi the horizontal and vertical positioning

for

Ins analysis

in

Rosalind

Ml

edents, and theii

t<>

Communication from the

ts.

slight alteration

reasoning w.is applied by Morris


ol

lass.

overall

admits prime obje<

and development by

development

form-<

The

tr.ut

which there are m


replii at ion

.1

metaphoi

ol

careful to distinguish his


it,

Kubler comi

rousl)

own

facing page: 2. Untitled (Two L-Beams), 1966 refabrication


a

1965

original. Painted

24 inches (243.8

3. Untitled

plywood, two

243.8

units,

each 96

(243.8 x 243.8

plywood, three
x

96

of

61 cm).

(Three L-Beams), 1969 refabrication

original. Painted

units,

each 96

of a

96

1965

24 inches

61 cm).

PASSAGEWAY,

196

newly conceived medium. Morris was able,

While in California in I960, Morris was introduced to


the composer La Monte Young by John Cage. After
his subsequent move to New York, Morris was invited
by Young to participate in a series of concerts and

of a

performances that he had organized. These included

the performing

Henry

Simone lord, a
performance byjackson MacLow, and a work by Young
lectures by

Flynt, a concert by

An

himself. For Morris's event, guests were invited to

Environment"

Chambers

3- 7

to be

common

orridor that

urved

passageways

feet thai

but

ly

guests found

of the

The

dan. er

Yvonne Rainer took

pent

her pocket book and scrawled "FUCK Vol


a<

one

ross

BOB MORRIS"
Indeed, the work's interior was

the walls.

of

besmirched with

depanun Imiu

substantia

th<

as

Pop

art

common

Two years

Roy

ol

"New

Lie htenste in,

were given

her essay "A H

later, in

vocabulary, was the

haos

'

>

ause.

fabric ol

Minimalisms nonimagistit and

end of ai h day
While the extreme simplicity of Passageway

demonstrates

known

Realism" (now

Rose

Art.

neo-Dada,

arguing that what linked the two phenomena, despite

autographs, and Morris recalls toui hing up the walls


at the

Kaprow, Claes Oldenburg, and Robert Whitman,

wove Minimalism into the

and

a variety ol graffiti, insults,

Jim Dine. Allan

Andy Warhol, and Tom Wesselman

Irom

il

of

Robert Rauschenberg, and the sleek-surfaced

as pleasurably

it

such formally

In this way,

Happenings

the paintings and combines of Jasper Johns and

the entire event.

unpalatable, wink others experienced


ironic

a reverse

of (age-,

artistic practice.

objects to produce an imagery of "the

American Dream."

diverse art as the

work's laconic gesture

th<

contemporary

in

ommonplace

tailed

converting the experience into

comprised

Some

Morns away from

Implicit in this neo-Dada. she wrote, was the use


of

it

kind

own

1963, a new and insurgent Dada, or

in

it

had taken hold

exerted a brute control over their bodies and their

expectations

Passageway seems to move

It

"neo-Dada," based in large part on the ideas

realized that the

ompression, ami the

its

the example of Cage, Fluxus, and Happenings to a

to artit ulate

narrowing slow

feet,

for fifty

They quickly

steadily to a point.

body and concentrate within

prismatic form that body's gestural energy.

Minimalism may be understood as forming a bridge


between these phenomena As Barbara Rose began

plywood-lined

prop that would simultaneously confront

sculptural

position as a nascent Minimalist, the early reception of

several hours

to Fluxus. viewers entered the

only to find themselves in

loft,

is

articulated in dance to create an interactive shape, a

open

1961.

in all
it

Yoko Ono's studio on

doubt anticipating the kind of Merz

environment

artist

which was

each day from June

No

Fluxus

at the

Street,

these works, to use the specificity of gesture as

deployment

Pop's figurative

literal, cool,

unexaggeratc d

.i\\>.\

the ready mad.

of

haped Happenings, which had begun to appear


it.

New York

by

1959,

ine\ itably

it

Yet Morris

insistent aggr. ssiceness

and

upon an
hanged the

well as to draw

episodic,

their desire

rei alls

Morris

inipulati

had

CX(

theatrical form, with

..

re< ills

thai

><

lapjx nings

ini ludi

hi

was

th< onlj

linn

si

>in<

implications, and thi expressivi textun of the Fluxus


>

petson

."

Kaprow

.an ndance

Bail

I.

us

60),

Building i\959), All.m

narrative

its

times

.a

!fl

Red
//...'

lldenb

Dads rhen and Now,

\rt

IntmuUmul,

I.

.mm

which may be seen as deliberate!) continuous


wit

sionism

Of IMi|

work

ing the

si.

ai

spatial

would

audi,

ni

b.

twi

work prod
l

\.

>l'

in. al

in:'

th(

.,'.

in

Alll An.

e p.

is

L961
.

i,

ai
.

in.

ly

no

lai

thi

Now

<u\

Gregorj Battcock

.\,u \,k Dmtoi

I960

n
lat<

ulptun

S'. Portals 1961


its

...U

90)

ch<

body advancing
li

li

nih.it Anthology, ed

ould

and horizontal, the

veci

l<

Morris
i

When

body's position to

thi

ich ol Mori

94

Roai

In ilns sense,

'

..i

had reduced
r<

b<

<

nvelopi that

marriage of dance and built structun

dill.

ipating body to us task

p. .up

was

us

"t

and

that of entry

gesture

that tins gi stun

into

'

mold
/',

om

mi mb<

.him d bj eai h

madi

ontrai tion

oncentrating on

'

foi a radii al

.!

no

in

s,

9), or

this undi rstanding

Passageway 1961

(2.44

Painted plywood, 8 x

50

ing inside

feel

Passageway.

BOX FOR STANDING, 1961

photograph taken

Church

in Morris's

Street studio in

1961 shows the artist standing, arms at his sides, inside


a

Made

pine box

measurements, the

to his precise

work engulfs him

His downward gaze and

like a coffin.

expressionless face convey

the images sense of

little;

purpose and overall intensity seem, therefore,

from the

to derive

upright posture alone.

artist's

That the photograph shows Morris "performing"


work to Passagi u a) L961

his sculpture links this

n and the

HO.

Passageway,

it

Column (I960,

earlier

can be seen to have certain

Happenings and, through them,

early

being constructed

Europe between

in

Like

p. 90).

the

ties to

to the bridge

Surrealism

late

and early Nouveau Realisme. From Merer Oppenheim's

made

Banquet,

the 1959 International Exhibition

tor

Jim Dines Car Crash (I960) or Robert


Whitmans E.G. (I960), the prone, entombed body

of Surrealism, to

had played

the imaginative space being

a central role in

explored by both European

American

.i\^\

artists.

Hut unlike these episodic perform. nut pieces, Morris's


I

'Box for Standing)

'ntitled

Passageway

concentrates

1961

no. 6)

impact

its

had

as

in a single

gesture, that of the upright coffin, in which the body,

movement

held in a vertical position, p< rforms one


rlic resist. in-

it\

moves B

that

time and Space,

this gesture, cii.k ted in real

is

It

to gra\

waj

from a sculpture

presentation. Several rounded tombstonelike works

pine (for example, no.

in

.11

ising the physii al objet

and

also fashioned in 1961,

5),

litmus ol represr11t.1tmn.il

within

a veil "I illusion

Rejecting

thereby, into virtual space

proji

still

ulpture,

si

the notion of representation, Box for Standing

mstrates that what had be< n largel) unthinkable

within Modern

protoi ol
thi

nted subji

51

sculpture and

and

is

ledge fn

mi

s.

th<

v< rj

made

shows the

1.

mill d

.1

ore

to the

at

to ch<

experience

its

ironmi

thi

ii

shortl) after finishing

d in plaj

artist
is

with the

ulpture,

s<

iron wheels, four feet in

si

diameter, joined

take

ith its en\

images, Morris interai

p. mi ol

measure

in turn, to

photographs,
no

In th<

mi

medium According

offers us

shown,

l.iinu
s.

ol th<

these works, the body, although no Ion

c,t

pi'

r<

ulpture had

si

conception

Morris's

nt< rs bj

.1

mi

tal

bat

si

veral

and moving as he assumes


various postures, remains in IK in vii w
he mow ments
h< lifts On w lni Is b) tin bar, as
long

feet

h>

artist, shifting

it

urling

11

"i w<

nds on

11

eai

Ii

whei

Morris

di

bodil) affiliation with his objects

M,

thi

arms

bar,

iously poised with

monstrati

.1

.1

foot
di

on

facing page, top: Morns

in

Box

for Standing.

facing page, bottom: 5. Untitled (Rough Tombstone), 1961.


Fir,

60 inches (152.4 cm)

6. Untitled

high.

(Box for Standing). 1961.

10'' 2 inches (188 x 63.5 x 26.7 cm).

Fir,

74

25

Wheels 1963 Laminated

fir

and painted cast

nches (121.3 cm) diameter The


I

the Volunteer

Committee Fund, Toronto.

Facing page: Morns with Wheels.

II

iron,

Art Gallery ot Ontario,

PORTALS

196

Modern sculpture, many notions


way to work materials have been

an abstracted ideal space

In the history of

or

of the proper

sculpture, on

entertained, direct carving, modeling, casting,

relies, dissolves, a

among them.

welding, polishing, and burnishing

result of their insistence

it is

to experience

this century's sculpture

dislocation best underscored by

the elimination ot the base. These objects

It

the Minimalists, especially Morris and Carl Andre,

cannot be aligned with any of these methods,

which

in

which much of

columns, and the

like

rest

uncanny immediacy from the

on the basics of building and

and on which we walk. For

doorways,

on and draw their

it

on which they

floor

cannot be said that

sit

made unnecessary more conventional


means of sculptural manipulation. The elementary

portal

methods, industrial materials, and standardized

organizing core underwent significant modulation and

arranging, which

embraced and, indeed, brought

units that these artists


to

prominence

to

fundamental building techniques, manifestly

1960s bear distinct

in the late

life

(that

is,

system or the rows

an work into everyday


Clement Greenberg lamented, the

so that, as

work

"readable as art, as almost anything

is

including a door, a table, or a blank sheet of paper."

Two
frames

of Morris's earliest works were, quite

lintel structures.

Untitled (Pint Portal)

1961

the

same time

tombstones

as his

and Columm (pp. 90-92);

1961

<

ly-painted work, w

something

columns

made

issues

no

the Portali heighten

on

viewi

upon

to
in

mirrored lining
ith

sense

ol di

;ed

posn

/'.

1961

nsivi
'Ipll S

with

hiti

100

space,

to make-

using simple-

and commonly available materials, manipulated

terms

ot explicitly

straightforward procedures.
a priori

Clement Greenberg,

Recentness of Sculpture,"

at

Must

um

ol

Art,

in

Los Angeles Los Angeles

"
;

mmunication from the

artist.

February

Ibid

more

coming

no,

added

n hi
/

In thai

10).

'n titled

bod)

work,
vis a \is

through the doorwaj


ol on<

(Pint

It

s<

is

the

to

as a

Morris's Portals, and, similarly,

tnding

as< orollai
it

the

ity in

1961

no

6),

and

the

loubly as architectural
it

to thi

bj virtui of its

spa,

movi

ol ch(
t

or

pres sun ol chi

si

body,

how

fundamentally

nsi

ol

mi caphoi and

Untitled (Pine Portal). 1961. Laminated dr. 96

12 inches (243.8

121.9

30.5 cm).

48

Jpiun

ount]

sp

ler thi

an

wh<

portal in

and doubled imagi

own

environment,

reflexh

ring ol ch<

to pass

oi traci

directly, in us

suggested bj

year,

wooden

Columns, establish then


app<

trom Morris's

cangular

re(

like that

oi sell

same

the

nti

though

as

kind

issue

them, an experience that Morns

to the

Wtrro\

And

\)

passage involvi

frame

between

viewer; spatial

the issues raised by these works are

lr(196l,

,-,

works

ofiht Sixties, exhibition catalogue

'

stan between entering and exiting,

'1

its

them the notion of passage


through them or that standing

connected to mai

indi

stable relationship

vithin

that one should pass


is

no. 8),

no. 9),

h looked

an h on two

like a straight

and going

hi<

iewing as

decisions and basic construction methods."

was then

this portal

developed into Untitled (Portal)

that sculpture's

"These procedures,'' he has written, "involved

example, no. 5)

(for

one. Another

literally.

an elemental, unpainted wooden frame, was

In short, these early

doors in the form of simple post-and-

for

is

involvement with the "capacity of the body

tools

today

is

simply

and temporal events were destabilized and decentered.

something

used in Egyptian

architecture, they integrated


life,

it

new grounding was

extension. For one thing, the new sculpture disrupted

nonart). Privileging

of bricks

ot this

a centralized sculptural object and

such ancient structural combinations as the post-andlintel

a portal;

the practice of

ties

architectural problems, and the spatial and temporal

matrices of everyday

is likt

consequence

*j

f^B

"*
<

1
i
i

facing page: 9. Untitled (Portal). 1961. Painted plywood. 96

48

12 inches (243.8

121.9

10. Untitled (Pine Portal with Mirrors)


a

1961

original.

30.5 cm)

1978

refabrication of

Laminated pine and mirrors, 84 inches (213.4 cm)

high. Collection of the artist.

PORTALS 103

BOX WITH THE SOUND OF ITS OWN MAKING, 1961

One of Morris's

earliest sculptural objects,

undoflti Ou

understood

terms of the

in

Duchamp.

Marcel

to

Making

'.

1961

no.

artist's

11

Box with

Making

can be

become
s

self-apprenticeship

work evokes Duchamp's


ball Hi twine sandwiched

is

often cited as an early example of

a large

me

body

of

what would

process-saturated work.

Minimalism

writing on

of the early critical

drew a parallel between the minimal imagery

':<

Kazimir Malevich's Suprematist

Morris's
a

(,

between metal plates that contains within

work

it

art

involved in Duchamp's gesture

making

of

something unidentifiable that makes noise when the


object is shaken. Contrary to Duchamp's intentions,

simply

however, the sound emanating from Box with the

greeted not only as an allusion to With Hiddt

Sound

Making

is

meant

Morris's Box u itb tbt

to dispel the idea oi

secrecy, substituting instead the experience of

an intelligible process and

CWU962,
1963, no.

Framt

no. 12).

Gordon Gallery in New York,


group show (February 27 March 2 I. 1963) that

included the work

Japanese artists to

oi several

in

plasm

demands: issuing from the depths


tape recording

is

it

Ai\d inside, of past

ma

the

of rc<

ri

I"

no.

of as a

he began

own
ol

early

less ion sin


i

an

physii

that

al

ami

prop

would

81

ha)

formi

between

In hi

Ins

isa)

the way thi

foi

work remains

li

roll

in.

li

in\ol\i

With Hidden Noise

the
i

.hap.

fl

Museum

profound

of both materials and tools in


Morris

thi

and

ih<

fori

rties of materials

givi

nth to
irj

to his process-oriented
Ij

Metal

led Morris to a rejection

to signal foi

Form,

10 4

tion painting Ja< kson Folloi ks

ai

thinking of thi
i

and $00 05) B) April

il

he states Ins admiration

ii

exhibition cataloj

1968,

hi

making

Marcia Tucker, R

undo/

io|x
//>

works to

Ou

of Art,

.>r

to Minimalist!

produc tion

of

,s

(January 1965), reprinted in

lapse of OUtsidl

and Minimalism, which

in favot ol thi

Ann Form
il

name

it.

ol

oi Blii

work ha

lam

the

its

(In-

246

1973 (pp

'|

would lend

An

sawing,

Felti (pp. 2\.'

in

'

Battcock (New

extreme

its

insidi ration of the ideologii al nit


rai

later,

Battcock, p|

rience of he objei

or inst ription

Richard Wolfheim developed this parallel

and present, the making and

and the sen.

A Critical Ami

theessaj that,

pp

Morris's later anti-form, or Process, work,

example

tor

took Morris io build

ordmg

October 1965), reprinted

produced during

iflated in

This kind

hand< raited

sounds

oi all tin

what ion Id be thought

In

Minimal Art:

Art.

Dutton, 1968), pp

5.

the obj<

c of

of this

inering, measuring, sanding

the three hours

in

"A B

ruptured internally by the

is

auditory encounter that the cxpcricin

box

o.

Barbara Rose,

Thus,

arts.

the visual experience of the cube's form

Making was

Whitnej Museum of American Art, I970),p 13

separation of the genres by using sound to open up


closed silence oi the traditional

geometrical simplicity

Wollheim, "Minimal

Modernist

thi

Ann

in

between sculpture and theater. Box with

Sound of Its Oi

the

Morris,

in

whom

Morns had been introduced by Arakawa.


Just as Morris's Column (I960, p. 90) operated
a space

Ou

1962, no. In. U beeli

exhibited at the

first

/.'

1955), a monochromatic painting with


music box behind us surface

and some smaller pieces, the work was

7),

Sound oj

art

In this context

objects.

but also to such Duchamp-inspired work as Jasper


Johns's Tango

duration. Together with

its

readymade

bj signing

ol

and the minimal

im hes (12.8 x

13

l'U6

11.4 cm)

Philadi

Louise and Walter Arensberg Col

N ..rk

11.

Box with the Sound

of Its

Own Making,

1961. Walnut

box. speaker, and three-and-one-half-hour recorded tape, 9

9%

Gift of

/4

inches (24.8

24.8

24.8 cm). Seattle

Art

'

Museum,

Bagley and Virginia Wright.

BOX WITH THE SOUND OF

ITS

103

EARLY MINIMALISM

When

Donald Judd first encountered Morris's earliest


Minimal works, exhibited at New 'York's Green Gallery
he described them as

in spring 1963,

standing open

"a

square, a gate, a pair ot wheels, a suspended slab."

While the spareness of the works was


then

interesting,"

The

"potentially

much

attcr all,

'isn't,

why

works

effect of the

to

one

language games

put

in the

Judd saw him

view,'

seriously,

the most

to

reductive possible aesthetic statement, namely that

something could identity

"It sets a

lowest

common

denominator." This lowest denominator, he went on

was not that of the readymade whose

to argue,

claim to be

seemed

it

that

[art] is

work he found himself admiring,

the

off

and

monumi

sculptural and

public nature

and "the

In the

(1962,

winter

"<

something

into

whii h was pro.

on

flat

1963 64,

of

<

onfronted with

'ntitled

Nova So

'imposition out

of

ol a

I.

.1

fudd had work*

Mi

mi idle

"loi

as

n u. n\ forms,
i

ing thai

hind

oi broki

In

pun
shapi

on

.'

196

itali

oi

togi thi

down

ti

work.

or

into

si

.1

Ins

p. 1

irts

Me

3,

Barbara Ros<

thai

In

6 (March 1964), n

'

printed

in

..././/:.././,

on

&

(New York:

wa)

ban

no. 5 (Februarj

\'

(>..ll. ries,

ill.

"A

ulptun

Fi

>;//..;/

'

Amk

.1

bruan,

Gregorj Battcock

K.'m

I*

\"

<

m.

..ii

October Now mix

li

'I

s.

ulptun

Octobei

Pai

k, pp.

2 28

is

d. illuminated.

called results,

an'i

l><

rgj

analyzed

to

facing page top: 12

parts

onm

with the question

no.

17

with only on<

gnitiveem

parati

(Halifax

Bui in reducing

ies

what he

in a w.c\

'

s,

making them op< rati as


Morris was abl< todelivei

provi

cl

form

i.

proper)

ol

pun displacement of spaci

...\

exl. ndl d,
I

t ..ill. rii

din M

to bring into

impossible thing

visual detail of his works,

them

the

ol

[aitford

printi ! in

isually, hut

impossible sinci anything wi perceive

singularly unitarj

Minimalist work

logical!)

given t0 us as

"In ch<

ih.

short, as

and

but one

meaning." determined by

"public

what Morris asserted was the

ol Ins earl)

rh.

is

lis

pieces an minimal

exist- in

object

DmuUJmU: Compltti Writings,


f An and Design,

huU J nit,

ant he read

just a rec tangle or a triangle"

is

n\e

In.
ii

)rder, in the old sense,

ambition

it-,

ot

|udd,

the hanging version ot Slab,

12),

that

an experienci

pi op.

The

else ot Morris's early

Donald Judd,

reprinted in

replaced by

is

ot space, light,

the newer aesthetic. Clearly, the desire

in

an idea

much

by so

ntal upright positions of the

iwerful spatiall)
to

composition
function

arc- "a

and the

exist

the body." Because

refusal ot the Abstract Expressionist aesthetic signaled

feet,

this position

to see the value ol pressing

the work

ol

which they

in

use rather than private intention, was part

Judd was

Space

demands placed upon

terms

of the

to lorge

pie< es

1962, no.

the relationship between the objects

ot

literal

relationships that

ud)

addressed

more interesting than the vaguely

the floor are

other three

is

ulpture,"

relationships between aspects that are

the viewer's held ot vision.'"

expanse

its

it.

you are displaced from sixty-four square

which you look down upon

one

supported a lew

"The space below

floor:

Si

clear that a large, "public" scale for

ot this, the old notion ot

"only

'ntitled (S

no. 13), an eight-foot-square plinth

inches

of the

making

stop

kinesthetic

being exhibited." Rather

it is

emerge from the features

to

meaning by the public one

of

internal to a given form and. instead, focus on the

simply by being

itselt as art

"purposefully built," saying:

or his or

sculpture, such as that ot Slab, will torcc the viewer

Hat, unevaluating

made

as having

of the

in this text,

second of Morris's "Notes on

where he makes

nothing to tak

is

Indeed

).

first

by publicly executed use.

in place

conception

Identifying Morris with tins

)^ s

This question of displacing the private, interior

ot

Rauschenberg's quip: "If you don't take


there

one of the

games fashioned to reduce


linguistic statements radically enough to separate the
idea of privately established meanings ot words

Robert Rauschenberg's white canvases, quoting


it

is

her individual memories or feelings) from meanings

anyone would build something only barely present,"

and he compared the

pointing to the shape"

(maintained by an individuals "intention,

to look at."

following year Judd continued to "wonder

in his Philosophical Ini estigatiom

ol

cted this

how

Untitled (Cloud)
"3

to

idi a

..i

182.9

I'M..'

Painted plywood,

182 9 cm).

.,

poini i"

ch(

tome thing raised b) Ludwig Wittgenstein

13. Untitled (Slab)

(30.5

243 8

1962 Painted plywood, 12

243.8 cm).

96

96

Ini

hes

14

Untitled (Frame)

vood.

1962
I

OH

<

30.5 cm).

15. Barrier,

(200.7

1962 Painted plywood, 79

228.6

90

12 inches

30.5 cm).

EARLY MINIMAI ISM 109

Untitled (Fiberglass Frame). 1968

16
72

96

18'? inches (182.9

243 8

Guggenheim Museum. New York, Panza

lio

Translucent fiberglass,

47 cm). Solomon R

Collection.

17. Untitled (Fiberglass Cloud), 1967

and nylon threads, 18

96

Translucent fiberglass

96 inches (45.7

244

244 cm).

Tate Gallery, London.

EARLY MINIMALISM 111

THE DUCHAMP CONNECTION

Duchamp in the
Morns encountered the art
means or Robert Motherwell's book

early 1960s by

Duchamp

Robert Lebel's

monograph (the first to appear), and the two


Duchamp-inspired members of the
rk avantind Jasper Johns. Duchamp's
v

program

his notion of art as strategic operation, the

declared symbiosis between theory and practice


clearly affected the

development

own

of Morris's

modes

linked theoretical and artistic

closely

of production.

Accordingly, in her catalogue essay for Mori

1969 exhibition

Corcoran Gallery

at the

of

Art in

lington, D.C., Annette Michelson associated a

body of

his

Duchamp's

work with
practice:

six

themes drawn from

transparency, translucency,

found object

reflection"; "the reconstructed, revised

";

"subversion of measure"; "framing'" (and unframi'

money and ecology as order and or char


The theme of reflection appears in Morris's second
mirror piece Pharmacy (1962, no. 19), named after
in
Duchamps assisted readymade Pharma,
art as

which Duchamp had merely added

and

a red

green

dot and his signature to a kitsch print of a winter


landscape. Morris's work consists

two circular

of

mirrors on posts facing each other. Stationed between

them

on one side

a square of glass,

is

painted a

of

which Morris

the other a green one. These

re<!

and mirrors constitute an enclosed system


resulting in an infinite

work also contains

.-retire

serii

a reference to

ions, the

the original

sit'

Marcel

Duchamp's work, the French pharmacy, in the window


inch one traditionally finds two large glass
d liquid, the other green.

The readymade, which Duchamp


the

VI

Bottle Rack,

used the found

mock, from within the


increasing

ni

the

it

acstlu

Kathenne

S. Dreiet

ol

commodity and

status of art as

(272 5

initiated with

m, both the

Duchamp The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors.


Oil and lead wire on glass. 107 x 69 inches
x 175.8 cm). Philadelphia Museum of Art, Bequest of

1915-23

Even

straining, as he
limits on

ions ol Modernist ideas about form

l.u

ith

would through other t< hniques,


omposition, and autht tit u it\
i

tore.

prior

<

Due lumps

//,

'

Hut

through

Dm h.imp

wIik h

tlso

himself had dec lared his ow n break

with painting (dismissing

it

as retinal obsessivem

ii.

the

of

ol

J notions

ontingem
thinkii

ol

ol

'

ompositioi

model

lu<

tion
fot

and

onsumption,

Morris

ai a

jun

)'i'

had before him, he modified found obje<

und and

n
il

ts

lump

through

lived tim

varii

<

18),

movement

Ii

explored me< hani(

/(no

it

\A),

and

Fountain

obje<

which the internal

datin

ol

al oi

ts. all

relations of th<

work convey onanism often coupled with disappointed

valuable

and

citive

(no

n as th<

mind, Morris onsidered the notion

the luc helor apparatus

only did

Modernisn

l>r

it

23), in

Ivl'i

know

desire

r/ir is

>

h\ virtue of

its title

openly hails

l>u<

a steel-ribbed trash can

den armatun
al

pump

noisily

and neo Dada

lumps nun

ol

Fountain

Independeni Artists exhibition

<

ri

inside

ulates wat<

sensibility, th<

nded urinal submitted as an entry

nonrelational

and permutation

Morn

suspended from a pail


ket a mi hanii

in

<

1917), a

sigm

d,

to th< Society

New

York

work

Bui

beyond

that, Morris's reinterpretation of the earlier

object through the concept of circulation lends


itself to a

discussion of the transmission of artistic,

and commodity forms, and the ways in


which signs are pressed into the service of systems
linguistic,

of meaning and exchange.'

The

dialogical relation

between these fountains was reasserted

Hans

in

Haacke's Baudrichard's Ecstasy (1988), in which a

gold-painted urinal
(as

Duchamp

is

displayed on an ironing board

once recommended be done with a

Rembrandt), from which


housing a

pump

the urinal.

The

suspended a bucket,

is

forcing water

up

into the

bowl of

circulatory action in Morris's version,

as well as in Haacke's rendition (portraying the

readymade

as

humorous

critique of structural-systems

theory), recalls the cause-and-effect narrative

elaborately posited and thwarted in the Large Glass,

where the circulation of erotic gas

is

held forever in

check, fulfilling neither Bride nor Bachelors.

The deadpan

eroticism and the affectless

treatment of the body evident in Duchamp's Large


Glass, and his later cast

body parts (Pnere de toucher

[1947], Female Fig Leaf'[1950]. Objet

EW

[1951],

Wedge of Chastity [1954], With My Tongue in My Cheek


[1959]), as well as his Etant Donne'es (1946-66),
distinguish
reliefs

and

numerous works by Morris

as well: lead

enframe embedded imprints of vulva, hands,

feet; cast brains are overlaid

with dollar

Hans Haacke, Baudrichard's Ecstasy. 1988. Mixed media,

45

14 inches (114.3

Gallery,

New

137.2

35.6 cm). Courtesy John

York.

bills

and 42); ruler and yardstick pieces,


which, while signaling the "subversion of measure"

and

54

Weber

silver (nos. 41

third work, Litanies (1963, no. 21),

of which

is

a lead-

enacted in Duchamp's Trois Stoppages etalons (1913),

covered box, on the

include matter-of-factly crude sexual allusions

twenty-seven keys, each inscribed with a word from

(for

example, no. 34). Likewise, Morris portrayed

the

Duchamp

lid

The work,

text.

exhibited at the Green

the alienated body in performances such as Site (1964,

Gallery in Morris's

and Waterman Switch (1965, no. 69). The


Large Glass also informed several works by Morris that

was acquired by Philip Johnson.

no. 63)

derive their titles and

momentum

from linguistic

elements in Duchamp's work. In 1961, Morris executed


Litanies, a

drawing that combines delicate scrawling

with the words of "Litanies of the Chariot," terms


elaborated in the Green Box (1934), a group of

Duchamp's notes
notes,

for the

a bachelor machine,

symbolic circuit as
LIFE,"

Large Glass. In one of these

Duchamp remarked
was

it

that the Chariot, itself

to glide

back and forth in a

recited the litanies:

"slow

"VICIOUS CIRCLE," "ONANISM," "HORIZONTAL,''

"ROUND

late in

paying

first

for the

follow another

a key ring holding

is

New York,
When Johnson was

solo exhibition in

work, Morris decided to

Duchampian

strategy, the majesterial

conveying of aesthetic significance, by withdrawing his


aesthetic seal from Litanies in a

work called Statement

Withdrawal (1963, no. 22), an act of


reversibility that Michelson reads as "unframing."

of Esthetic

Benjamin H. D. Buchloh has discussed this rev< real


terms of legalistic language and administrative snl<
calling

it

Duchamp-inspired

shift

toward authorship

effected through legal contract and institutional


discourse.

The right-hand

snl< of

Statement

side views of the disputed work, delicately

WHEEL," "BEER PROFESSOR." Morris's lead Untitled

being claimed.

(Slow Life Plaque) (1963, no. 20) bears the litanies

typed, notarized "Statement

emblematically on

its

front.

</f

Esthetit

Withdrawal, labeled "exhibit a," shows frontal and

THE BUFFER," "JUNK OF LIFE,"


"( HEAP CONSTRUCTION," "TIN CORDS
IRON WIRI ,"
"ECCENTRIC WOODEN PI ILLEYS," "\K >\OTONOUS FLY
TRIP," "FOR

in
.

to yield a

shadow\ present

The

<

embossed

evo< ative ot the

left-hand

snl<

oi Esthetit

In 1969, Morris created a

absem

en< loses the

work

Withdrawal

entitled

Woney

THE DUCHAMP CONNECTION

facing page: 18. Fountain, 1963. Painted wood, galvanized


steel bucket, hook, circulating

14-

inches (91

Frankfurt

am

32

pump, and water, 35

37 cm). Museum

fur

'

12

5/

19.
x

Pharmacy, 1962.

36 inches (45.7

29.2

Painted
x

wood and

mirrors,

91.4 cm). Collection

18x11

of the artist

Moderne Kunst,

Main,

THE DUCHAMP CONNECTION

15

tor Anti-Illusion: Procedurt

Matt

an exhibition

rials,

of contemporary art organized by Marcia Tucker and

James Monte
Art in

show,

New
it

Whitney Museum

at the

\ork. Like

many

American

of

of the other objects

The

involved a lope of process.

in

the

piece initially

consisted ot a contractual agreement and related

correspondence between Morns and the trustees of

bank check.

the Whitney, as well as a canceled

documents

sum,

invest a small

prices
profit.

it

on the European market

to

by the museum,

to be provided

blue-chip art and then to turn

It

which was

Morris's original proposal,

around

in

at inflated

museum's

tor the

Because the trustees refused the proposal unless

the project could be guaranteed as risk tree, Morris

was limited

to

performing modest and sheltered bond

investments on Wall Street, these carried out under


the supervision of the trustee Howard Lipman. The
no. 24) contains
expanded version ol Mom
additional documentation of these financial
transactions

Morris's strategy of

making

procedures of investment clearly relates


production ot bonds

from the

art

Duchamp's

to

system

tor investing in a

to

win

at

Monte Carlo Casino anil to Ins I tanck


an art work that Due lump issued as

roulette at the

Check (1919),

payment

tor a

dental

bill.

Money also

category of Duchamp-influenced usi

under the

tails

legality

ol

in art

as discussed by Buchloh.

Robert Motherwell, The


fork

Wittenbom,

imp, trans

2.

Dtii/ti

''
I

rris

An

..'lit

rially

umption

product

ilogui

thai

we

\\

ashington,

timl in the

in m.c:

produ

M
Ill) Bui

hloh,

'

oncepcual

An
rsion ol thi

iii,

Press,

Aesthei
ii

ol

An An:
L

Hamilton (New York: Grove

ird

Am

Paintcri jiiJ Poets:

Schuitz, 1981; 1951); Robert

20. Untitled (Slow Life Plaque), 1963. Lead over wood


panel painted with metallic powder

8 x

/4

inches (25.4

20.3

in

synthetic polymer, 10 x

1.9 cm). Collection of the

artist.

THE DUCHAMP CONN

117

21

Litanip-.

.-ad

over wood, steel key ring, twenty seven


inches (30.5

6 4 cm) The Museum

ROBBR1

Ml '

ol

Modern

Art,

New

18

York, Gitt ol Philip

22. Statement of Esthetic Withdrawal. 1963. Typed

and notarized statement on paper and sheet of lead over wood,

mounted
(44.8

New

in

imitation leather mat,

60.4 cm)

overall.

''-

The Museum

>

of

23

inches

Modern

Art,

York, Gift of Philip Johnson.

THE DUCHAMP CONN

119

23 Proposal

to

"Re-do Chicago Fire of 1871," 1968

Telegram. October 21, 1968, 5


Collection Ella Venet,

ao k

New

York.

riches (14 x 21.6 cm).

4UM

IN

UNM

**

HIM1 MURIUM

Of

AMtlAU Mf

^r
~*~

24. Money, 1973 (expanded from 1969 version). Fifteen


sheets of typed office stationery and two certificates, 36 x

96 inches (91.4

New

243.8 cm). Courtesy Leo

Castelli Gallery,

York.

THE DUCHAMP CONNECTION 121

I-BOX

1962

Green Gallery

In 1963 at the

New

in

among them

objects,

York, Morris

made small

exhibited a selection of recently

own

of gray-painted bottles containing his

(EEG) (1963, no

fluids; Self-Portrait

sculptural

Portrait (1963, no. 43), a set

bodily

work

14), a

based on his electroencephalogram; and the related

and enigmatic l-Box 1962,

no. 25).

perhaps because

most

irony, that attracted

many

itself to

It

was the

lasc.

unassuming

of its impressively

critical attention.

registers of interpretation,

Offering

is

it

an

whose simply articulated format gives way

object

to

an unexpected complexity

Through the external form


door

shape

in the

the "I" of

the letter

of

maker,

its

chalky pink

of a

the work literalizes

/,

door opens

tor this

to reveal a

photograph of the naked Morris, another, more


personal"

posed

self,

in front of a wall,

standing

with his head tilted back somewhat derisively, with

and a

a twinkle in his eye

However

partial erection.

nontraditional and surprising, the l-Box was,

on

therefore, thematically consistent with the tot us

works

self-portraiture of the other

marked by

Indelibly

the exhibition.

in

selt-consuous disavowal

the artistic conventions associated with Abstr.u

moment

ressionism, the

prodm nl was

in large part

in

of

which the l-Box was

oiuhtioned by the work of

<

Jasper Johns During the 1950s, Johns had developed


devices and strategies lor undermining Abstr.u
Kpressionism's

onni

th(

to be

of

ital

isii.i

being

disinterestedness, whi<

cii

promoted

In abstrai tion

brushwork and

new banality

Modernist aesthetit

of

immcdi.K

was thought possibli

it

tion to the

onflueni e of

those

us. partii ularly

through which
direi

ontinuation

of
li

to

\.

obtain

the maker, and

was understood

By slutting the
onograph) toward

the expressively individual "stroke"

applied now to mass produced objects such as targets


or

maps

DOdj as

as well as rellgurillg th(

work

of interest, Ins

momeni

formalisi

century an

in ch<

reception of twentieth-

Tat tt with Plaster Casts


Johns juxtaposes a painted targi with a row
woodboxes with doors thai wh< n opi ni d, rt vi al

For ins tan

1955),

of

ii

plaster body fragments;

and voyeurism,
disino

i.

of

1 1

r 1

to "|

<

w.e.

a a

t"i
<

i.i.

ii

iln

tin

arrangl

wing

v'u

ironj

rati

V\ hi n
\i.n\

in

lh>

it

a site

ontradii ted tenets linked to the

reft

rring to peepholes

ment

jusi as

ii

(lies in tin

demonstrated

i'

"Ii
fori

ol

/-Bw was

desigm d

baj

at

'I

th<
I

dn am

in

against thi grain "t Abstrai

la

la.

also holds thi

d an alena
.

also

xpn ssionism

pressionists thi
in

undi rstood as

ln<

Ii

thi

Co
siti

.<

anvas
.\iu\

of thi

25. l-Box. 1962 (closed view). Painted plywood cabinet covered


with Sc ui|>tmrt.il.

Is

iiiit.iiimi>x

photograph,

19x12

5 cm). Collection Leo CastHii

(]

inches

BOX

23

inscription, the 1-B".\. in an inversion ot terms, openly

such heroics, at once refigunng the

trivializes

making

associated with art

terms

in

self

mechanical

ot a

process (photography) and subverting the notion of

experiencing an

an intentional

.is

totality, the action

painters heroism here transcoded in raw sexual terms.


In the case ot I-Box, the physical self is

encoded

through the camera; and, from the vantage point of

we might argue

today,

that the self

both hidden

is

and revealed through the convention of the box

manner

in a

that invokes a history ot hidden and disclosed

pornographic pictures. In any case, the work entails

moment

contusion

momentary

of recognition as well as a

the subject ot masculine artistic mastery,

namely the Abstract Expressionist,

unveiled, undone,

is

made comical.
Such a reading would imply that

this

same

"I"

and thus anticipates and internets

signals the eye,

viewer seeing and apprehending the object, the


implication at

being that the work

first

of a peephole. Through the

movement

a variation

is

of ellipsis,

however, this reading breaks into two alternate and


noncoincidental meanings, doubly centered on
the image, yet invertible and shitting
Jasper Johns. Target with Plaster Casts. 1955

and collage with plaster casts, 51


(129.5

111.8

44

Encaustic

reference

the

lere.

not to the viewer, but rather to the

is

inches

8.9 cm). Collection Leo Castelh

unaverted

the artist, grinning knowingly at

>:a/c- ot

the camera, with his penis partially erect. These


facing page: l-Box (open view).

features insinuate that the pleasure in the image


least in part. Morris's

pleasure

own Thus

the voyeuristic experience

ot

confused: whose pleasure


this picture'

at

and

split

is

being reproduced through

is

The work seems

to bear witness to the

notion that the pleasure in the

once Morris's

"I," at

and playful disruption

nari issistn

is.

the (abjecting)

viewing and,

ot

at

the same time, the viewer's uneasy pleasure in looking


at

on

relics

it,

the

fere,

I -Box

operates as

double capture

emerges as

Ik

Strui

ure

it

ided and

issues ol genre addressed

reference

te>

through

eil

tine

power on the other

subject's constitution

tin-

utterani

the-

e>t

interrelated ihsc ourscs ot subjet tivitj

around language on the

el

the sexual bases

sell

the-

dh

work, Meirns undertakes the interposition

omplex and
i

insofar as
a

between sculpture

in the interstices

and photography, Beyond

am

hinge between tonus as

dividing pleasure,

in this

same image

the

ol

signifit

also unitary, whit h join

<

te>

<>t

che

combines

le

eit

and

signal

hand, and

unified

to the phallus,

notions

the-

oneness

e>t

and on. iht

..!..,

!
1

list

uuion

strategy of ellipsis referred to hen

IK,

ma
1

1. .|il

in

(Minneapolii

publish) d in French as
di

It

1]

inn

h,

lohns and his importana to Morris's

<

\thloni

Pn

is

described by Gilles Deleuzi

[ugh

md

1986) p

Barbara

162 original!)
(Pari

Edii

/
I

HON 185

CARD

The

FILE, 1962

game

locus of the "Caucus-race," an absurdist

described in Lewis Carroll's Alict in Wonderland

which the players start and stop as they wish, move


more slowly when trying to move more quickly, and
mysteriously end up where they began, is that of
in

systematized senselessness.

this held that Morris

It is

entered from time to time in order to disrupt, or

make

movement and

self-conscious, the

An example

generating a work of art.

Dada Card File (1962,

no. 26), a

is

process of

the early neo-

wall-mounted, vertical

containing a group of alphabetically indexed

flat file

cards that record the steps the artist followed in

conceiving of and making

work

is

Like Carroll's players, the

it.

guided by an absurd logic of disclosure

that,

supposedly hidden progression

in explicating the

that leads from "creative" intention, to the act of

composition, to the

work

final art

itself,

comments

on and rethinks that process.

shown

first

in

Dwan

Gallery in

New

1963 at the Green Gallery in

York, and subsequently in Language, a

New

York,

show

at the

Card File operates

according to an internal system of cross-referencing


that drives a step-by-step procedure for the viewer to

mapped by

follow. Traveling the circuitous route


Is,

one moves,

ironically,

the

through the intentions

and process by which the work was elaborated.


Archival orderliness

or so

it

seems

notices the "mistakes" and lost cards

work assumes

that this

in

The

;s

forty-four

tal

"<

>,"

among diem

the

in

ards, gathered

<

"At

onsiderations and

its

lii

the

lit

<i\<

red

them,

at

2<i

of

es thai

that
[sic],

ussed the work

New

thi

York

mistakes, was interrupted by

made

Ad

and so on

following three pages: 26. Card File

obsessive autorefi rentiality,

to anj

thi

umstani

Daniels Stationary

ihs<

notion

ol

at ive

burlesquing the traditional idea


i

typed remarks

oi

in

works making, Thus we read

Library,

K< mil. it-It

under

idents," "( ategories,"

with a friend, conceived the work in


Publii

is

)wners," "Signature," and "Stores,"

Morris purchased thi cards


lost tin in

one

the disguise

and irreducibly complex

bear an assortment

thai indii at<

figured

until

"Forms," "Interruptions," "Losses,"

isions,"

Mi

file

headings

is

order to perform what

a fragmentary, non-narrative,

various subjei

intent ions

am

at

ard //A gives

spontaneity,
ol thi

nous

ol

an work
he

art ist

cards)

Metal and plastic wall

fort) lour
.is

the

5.1

index cards, 27

cm) Musee National

Pompidou,

Paris.

tile

10'

d'Art

1962

(lull

view and

six

mounted on wood, containing


x

2 inches (68.6 x 26.7 x

Moderne, Centre Georges

CARD F

12 7

7/17/82, 5i30 pa
That

ever.)

7/1 o/ 62, 2

MS

thing

r el

Toot will not be recorded.

eutlofar

'i

.>n

pa

Ob trip to find file act Ad Kluh*rdt oa corner of 8tk

Street and flroadw.j.


which tlao it

ni

Talked with

bU

until Qi30 by

too Into to continue trip.

Neaee)

latermptleni

(See

- -_~ u

uu

LI

7/14/62, 7:80 pn

Discover small pack of 3 x 5 cards missing: unable


to remember what was written on them.

losses

-'

'

LJ LI

111

LJ

'

7/12 - 14/62
Lost small packuge of cards.

(See Losses).

1- (at 12/ .1/62)

Total number of typing errors:

H/- 7 / C2

6:35 P"

Third entry on Working 11/27/62, 6:45

"Stationery" misspelled.

T'ie

cird out of order.

Discovered by Dick Bellamy,

(See Names).

11/18/62, 2:55 pm.


12/17/62,

;>m

inclusion of tin Category,

"Completion".

Mistakes

un

-'[Jill]
Accideu.s:
Cards:

IS

u n

Recoveries:

Stores

t/

\\J

,.

Trips: 5

Decisions: 12

Working Periods:

Deleted Ea tries: 5
(iieo

Decisions -

Interruptions:
losses:

ri

Purchases

U/62)

Changes:

Delays:

Owners:

(at 1-/

Categories:

Dates:

'

})

Mistakes:

Things Numbered: II

Vunbrr

17

CABINETS, 1963

In their

mocking focus on concealment and

both Untitled

Kt

(Le.r.

Hook)

inferiority,

Photo Cabinet (1963, no. 27) locate Morris's relation to

Duchamp

Marcel

in

museum

no.

11

Grey

Paint, Robert

Moms,

The term

ich literally

means put

two mutually

structun

into the

reflecting mirrors

art stored

themselves

The

1916),

HamUt

is

an esample

Sound of Its Ou n

the

their titles suggest, these

may

with doors that

like real cabinets,

be opened and closed. Yet each frustrates viewer


expectations.

As David Antin has observed of Morris's


main interest of any box is on the

cabinets, "The

cannot follow

ON HOOK

is

of

embossed on

tive

INSIDE CABIN1

its

But one

because the door, perversely, has been

it,

padlocked shut. Inside the cabinet,


key, there

made

Leavi Key on Hoot,

inside (see Pandora)."

patinated bronze, bears the dire(


front, "LEAVE ki Y

addition to the

in

word stamped on the back wall that

Morris claims to have since forgotten. Flaying with the


structure of secrecy,
that

it

logic of the sealed cabinet

tine

forecloses the very desires that

is

motion.

sets in

it

Furthermore, the inaccessible interior takes on the

double aspect of curiosity and sexuality, aspet


Learly

enhance the viewer's experience

made

inet,

nor on the

to reveal a se<
a

present

101

and

it

is

it

the

first

,ui

smaller

icai

rai

in si/e

simili

white edges funi tion

to serve as

.1

oi th<

than
to frami

Free hcian de>

ii

ly is

the mi'

ior

ol reduplii

inet

abinn

representation maj

even apture

image

the infinite

ation put into plai

works to question the

the

frustrates the im lination to believe that the

th.it

is

it

its

allowing

en affixed

In

ond?) with an open door, The

se<

abinet's interior
ibinet,

opens but only

nother cabinet (or

perhaps, the

gray, plays

ontainer but, instead,

of tin- door. Its portal

photograj
1

that

is

the object.

ot

wood painted

sealed

ond door, on whit h has

photograph

or,

oi

se< rec> ot the-

on the mystery

bj

possibility chat

referent

its

In

27 Photo Cabinet, 1963 Painted wood cabinet containing


photograph, 15

'

inches (38.1

27.3 cm) Collection

the artist.

us tonn.it, Photo
/

/.

abinet invokes asso< iations with


.

ii

a photograph 11
in ih.it

ISO

.1

11

1:

miniature representation of all or part of the larger whole

play within a play in

in a specifically post-Abstract

moment. As

rwo works look

1,

\...

Duchamp's

of

which had also informed Box with


ressionist

and Information.

d to -peak ol those visual or literary work', that contain within

an attache case, and With Hidden Noise

Waking ( 1961

"An
\

refers to j

Box

relevant here are

(1941), the miniature


in

lXnid Antin,

1963, no. 28) and

hit

h similarlj

pun on the inn


Morris himsi

if

il

on tains within
11

it
J

ol its

facing page: 28

Untitled (Leave

Key on Hook)

Key, lock, and patinated bronze box, 13 x

(33

19.1

8.9 cm). Private collection.

1963.

nches

of

:\

METERED BULB AND LOCATION,

which what

in

If

self-reference

is

the very structure or terms of

support

has been one of the

Modernism,

mocking

work represents"

own medium

its

has also provided the means tor a

it

machine

Duchamp's conception

literalizes the logic

thereby parodying

it

of autoreferentialiry,

"The bachelor," he was famous

enclosure.

grinds his chocolate himself."

self-

for has ing

Various works by Morns from 1962 and L963


explore this notion of self-reference-as-autism, but

Metered Bu/b (1963, no. 29). Consisting

work seems

to invoke the bachelor

Ban

apparatus of The Bridt Snipped

known

also

Suspended,

from

like the Bride,

IL

by

as the Large Glass

Bachelors,

191523

armature of white-painted plywood, the bulb,

in

porcelain pull-chain socket, hovers ovet an electric

its

meter mounted on the back face

Wired

armature.

ot the

to the bulb, the meter, in the position ot

a<

though

lear (hat the

it

is

And

partner."

tivity oi its

mordant expression

Duchamp,

li

energy source powering this

fashioned

lost

red

irtiStil

Johns s & ulptmi


thi

1.

in

.m arrangi

*l

on n

<

had

wen

;<

bronzi trompi

hrough

lati

["hi

thi

early

cangular slabs,

recently

Jaspi

double

layen

~\

<

ord that has In

n twisti

anting

to

past terms which had. u itbout

round duality

tl

Johns took the background out of painting

a} representation.

and
What was previously

ackgroum

I.

"../Hon

which

in

1963, no. JO)

self-reference

which

,1

pictorial

Modernist discourse would have

as the

ly,

the work establishes that

autoretereiiti.il,

bound

object, for

flat

onsist of four little adjustable counters that, set

middle

into the

each edge, indicate the distance

ot

tlat.

to indicate

an actual

ot tin

-us 1h.1t

alphabet

pi(

mn

In tins

>.<

with an ironii
in ady

would

ms

s\sn

[ohns
a*

product
liki

"ml

ol

once the
tlu

corruption

high Modernism.

ot

\1.1i.

Mich

ed

in.

ii.,i

tiilli

linn

.m^l

Pei

Hi

Mori

Noti

<

"ii Si

iilptun

Pwi

Beyond

.it.

68
t

Ibji

<

li

in.

111

.11

',!

:.

rnin

I'.uin

1961),

[rts 1

't>i

Batci

ock (New

>

>r

Due ton,

cht

01 tin

n ady madi
l>\

Metered Bulb. 1963.

facing page, top: 29


socket with

and

pull chain,
x

8'

elei

trii Ity

inches (45

Light bull

meter, mounted on painted

20.3

21 cm). Collection

ps) to play ai

(tat

Jasper Johns.

Modi

rn

mt

of

painting

dimi nsional

30 Location

Notes on Sculpture, Part


wuli chest n in. 11
mi [ohns

Morris opens his


1n

isa

<

)li|<

cs

1.-,

ot

>l

ount of self referenci

object

work

the disembodied and atemporal

placelessness

wood. 17'.
flat

ontingent

and

ot

Thus,

wo

ounting
tint

stresses at

irj

found thro dimensional object to includi

dimi nsional

-relict object.

works position and sue,

viewing

empties

pictorial convention,

ocation, undersc oring the

tun

ot self-reference

them the material conditions

three-dimensional, low

tlu

certifies the pi<

it

site in real spat c

out the tormal conditions

tin

as

bending

tins strategic

ot

given wall's Boor,

and corners Yet even

ceiling,

piei e

notion

so ndi

elements

and

>l

Du ham]

a wall-

is

it

"representational

its

it,

Manifestly

Hamilton (New York: Oxford University Pre

beyond

n ady madi

Johnsian machine,

explode the

to

conventions of painting instead of resecuring them

of thi

such

is

used

is

irregularly shorn ,u both ends. Johns's read in

thi

.ill.

neutral becamt actual, wbili uh.it

an imagt

u.i' previously

bulbs

I'oeil

1960s,

their S0< kets or with the SO( ket and, perhaps,


ot

nt.

ither without

<

so

possibility nt infinite redefinition

nurse, ones with a perspi, uoiisU

ilis(

impossible relation to energy

from

Metered Bulb

In tins, thi

ther light bulbs that

I ...

tudult

exception, operated within

sin h as

resoun es

all tin-

readymade

.1

dtp:.

substituting tor

in uitry

represeiit.itK.ii, Morris's
l<

.1

Glass, had elaborately

mai him In using

'

of illusionists

may
work n

ol

tin

ridiculou

surt.ue as

even

bachelor machine comes from elsewhere, the result


is

tin

depictions as copit

the rectilinear surface from

lamp's Bachelors, measures, records, and signals

the electrical

anyom

this

non-

"into their area of competence

'

inverted /.-shaped

.111

much

:.

and painting had not done

paint:

tuiik

depiction than

the self-

of

absorbed dialogue between an electrical meter and


a light bulb, the

Johns

[Johns 'sj

case.

's

Duchamp

none are as specifically connected to


as

than in Pollock

'...;'.

bachelor

of the

masturbatory, autistic

as

looked at rather than into

great tormal resources

critique of high Modernist ambition. In this

sense, Marcel

said,

or

1963

1.

1963

''.id

over composite board, aluminum

-.21x21x1

lettei

.",

ml

inches

CKILIMG

-'EET

WALL
FEET

LOCATIO

lOH

^1

METERED BULB AND LOCATION 133

MEASUREMENT,

Looking

1963

"machine that would make

for a

divested of expressiveness and. therefore,

meaning,

who had become

artists

mark

and reducing

intrinsic

sheathed

of"

by his work was

Among

many

the

precedents offered

L913 1

Troii Stop}

assemblage that attacks the idea

measurement. Using chance

of a

measure from something that has

unit of

images

shrunken

three of the artist's

a reusable

through one

peered at through the other end, a reducing lens

standard unit of

transformed the

each end. houses a

at

wires. Peered at

opening, a magnifying glass projects an enlarged ruler;

produce wildly

to

Duchamp

disparate "metersticks.

an

1),

suspended from

ruler

small plywood box,

modeled, extremely textural

Sculptmetal, with an opening

self-consciousl)

anti-Abstract Expressionist turned to the example of

Marcel Duchamp.

measure.

a basic

in loosely

ruler. In Tbret Rulers

approximately three

R/er(1963, no

homage
were
in

feet, are

suspended

to

and

set

tirst

1963

in New York
d Ruler with

exhibited at the Green Gallery


In

another work,

ruler appears to projec

edition,

28.2

1964, number 7

50

of 8.

dimensionally

11x9

inches

At

first,

anomalous w

Katharine Ordway Fund.

wooden

being

a unit thai signifies

into

empty

sigi

context
an

While,

what the

"inch." for example,

the

same thing

'

and Out

';

assume

every

used on the idea

dysfuni tional ruler, whi< h, reused as

smearing paint, became

spatula

ham

foi

seamless,

ommi
lown

scali

from

standard mi asim

some

h in

thai th(
I.

tins

COCK

the back

oil he

like

itself

threads onto a canvas from a height of oni meter, gluing

random shape

in iln

lates

Each

ii

li

assumed

(oi

were used to draw

ni linguistii

.i^

il

Its")

fell,

thi

empt) sign

sign called a

and then

ul

them down
I

from thea disparate

both

lines in

mi. iiimIim notion of th<

in relation

neci ssarj to a

and

ni.H linn

oi

rclii fliki

pronouns

profiles

In

is

used in relation to
hit h,

"si

words

oi

like

k.

nl) in relation to their specifii


isth

M.iiiiK intimate in

iim in

In

manj variations

on the n

im.

rsii

'

"i

Mi. inn

lit)
i,

of enunciation

r.ms

I'ii

\|.in
I

"

',

on
Sec

lixabi

1 1

Emili

Mi

pp

chesi

im

thai Morris

ification indii ati


.i

.nu

quantify phi nomi na, ma)

B) provid

CUNTand

embrace

the work, stamped

of

pervades us measured and pre< im framework.

both cases, detached

in

ai ih

ases largi

'-I

name

of problems thai build on

rangi

Duchamp's exampli
to I" ai

dr\ and arithmetic,

it

in ai tual ruli

estimated from memory, but,

thou

hinged

engagements with deadpan erotic ism. in


work, too, a ool and removed, \e raw sexualit)

ii. il

i,l

ot

Morris's later

mi

seems

1)

side bj side,

lie

nut immediatel) obvious in theobjeci

the k in

oi the interval

no

rulers, insinuates a copulatorj discourse

wooden templates

nsui

and arrangi d in disparati frameworks

bears dividing marks,

1')('\

ohercnt group

was produced by dropping threi metei long

produi ed in im

"mounted"

produi

Ins guided th< L963


iremem as an
works he made using manipulated ot assisted ruler-

identified objects

ise

Morns was

the painterl) mark.

making

oi a

contextual machini

a purelj

interested in the idea of

is,

The patent!) vulgar

later call

Window Number

tht

foi

unt)

nfe/l

together along their top edges; closed, the rulers

paintings (for

irclt

that trails at an angle across

otherw

itlnn an

on the base-

1962]), Jasper Johns had

or devici for

in

would

strut turalists

in his various Devict

/'

li

Tun

an

shadow (rendered three-

a large

works. Open, two rulers

ruler

and consistent meaning

shadows and

pla\ ot

surfac e of the support.

ntitled

wood)

in

wooden

the squared

New Haven,

22.7 cm). Yale University Art Gallery,

an

Duchamp's King and Queen Surrounded


NI2) engraved in has-rehet above it.

Morns drew on the

Schwartz

from

which bears us name

$2),

of

vertically

perception; lure, a gray-painted, small

(129.2

rulers.

painted gray and measuring unequal lengths

small metal hooks. This tripartite

Marcel Duchamp. Trois Stoppages etalons, 1913-14.

(1963, no. 3D,

custom-made wooden

with us endless
bi

las

halli n
i

id

tern for enl

d teed

31

Three Rulers, 1963

>

>d

and metal hooks,


rry

N Aiirams.

r
:

\,\/
7

[,J/

\
L

Lr_ri

i t

J_LlUH
'i!

facing page, top: 32. Swift Night Ruler. 1963. Sliding


and wood, painted, 10

28-2

inches (25.4

72.4

5-89

34. Untitled (Cock/Cunt). 1963 (closed and open views).

ruler

2.5 cm).

Collection Leo Castelli.

Two painted

ru'ers hinged together and

base, 5

16 5

'?

x 1

'/j

Inches (14

mounted on painted wood

42.2

3.8 cm). Collection of

the artist.

facing page, bottom: 33. Untitled (Breakage Rejected

Accepted), 1963-64. Glass case on wood base painted with


metallic

powder

glass case on
rulers, 3

New

in

synthetic polymer, containing cracked

wood base, stamped

lead, mirror,

inches (9.5 cm) high. The

Museum

of

and two metal

Modern

Art,

York, Gift of Philip Johnson.

MEASUREMENT 137

35 Untitled

1964

Lead over wood and cast lead

'

rale University Art


!

IK

Brown Baker, B A

Ga

36. Untitled. 1964. Lead over wood,

and wire, 33

/2

North Carolina

6 3 /ie

x 2

Museum

hook,

ruler, spring,

inches (85.1

15.7

6.4 cm).

of Art, Raleigh, Gift of Rhett

and

Robert Delford Brown.

MEASUREMENT

39

1()

'

facing page, top: 37. Untitled, 1964. Lead over wood and
cast-lead ruler, 21 x 15 u x 1 'a inches (53.3 x 38.7 x 3.2 cm).
;

Private collection,

New

York.

facing page, bottom: 38. Enlarged and Reduced Inches,


1963. Ruler hanging inside wood box covered with Sculptmetal,
two openings with lenses, one magnifying, one reducing,

5x8x6

inches (12.7 x 20.3

15.2 cm). Collection of the

39. Untitled, 1964. Lead over wood and cast-lead

12

34

2 inches (30.5

M. Benjamin,

New

86.4

x 5.1

artist.

ruler,

cm). Collection Mrs. Robert

York.

MEASUREMENT

141

SELF-PORTRAITS, 1963

Duchamp

In IV 10, Marcel

Andre

humour

wasted energies such

as:

that

noir, a proposal

I'

designed to utilize the

for "a transformer

and of the

the

nails,

dropping of tears.

laughter,

tor

->

no

composed

13), a "self-portrait"

of bottled body fluids, operates somewhat differently

it,

small, gray-painted milk-bottle-shaped containers

and feces are

machine could be

196

framework

of blood, sweat, sperm, saliva, phlegm, tears, urine,

Like everything

."

Duchamp, such

to construct a

self.

from the more technologically oriented pieces. In

movements of fear, astonishment, boredom, anger


conceived by

was possible

Portra it

urine and excrement.

tall of

it

representing the

slight,

the exhalation of tobacco

the growth of a head of hair, of other body

smoke,
hair

contributed a project to

Breton's Anthologie dt

set into the

compartments of a horizontal

display box. Unlike Joseph Cornells use

similar

of

considered a mechanism, however unconventional, for

receptacles (as in his Pharmacy [1943]). in

producing works

containers reinforce the idea of inferiority, subjectivity,

Duchamp's

ot art

machines

ironic

production

tor the

of

which the

and memory. Morris's insistence on the definition

some ways

the art-mark outside the conventional channels of

of

aesthetic feeling were formative

straightforward commentary on the complicated issue

Duchamp's machines
from the

the

idea that the

first

from the brute physicality


Abstra<

Expressionism,

produced by the painter was thought

New Dance

the

machines

The

to

<

The

ireumvent

produi

any

to be, before

registration

task-relat< d gestures of

expressionism

this

Morns produced

in

1963

problem

of

how

to

stand the idea

of

"self-

relation to tins

ill

mark

wool,

il>. ii

expression on us head, materializing and met hanizii


S

went

(EB

rtrait

w rark

to N(

44),

i.

Mt di

niversitj

Morns

Center

al

to have

the activity of his brain waves recorded, concentrating

on himself

tor the

length

halograph to

He

height

mv

ond

si

<

ct

was

time when then was


of

differ* nt

to

an

.mas

mi asurt
1

nli

tin

n\
of

Bj

m
l

EEG developed

ing

the skull

as wavi
i,

,i

in

Morns used

iln

involved, as well as
in .ul. hi

tivit)

In

is

tht

plaint)

al

cht

')

apat

>ught

brain,

normal
ould

fi

would appear

mat hint
\

ol

itj

patit nt

ti

ruditj nt tin

to underscort

mt asuring

av

absurd

technologj

at

ah/anon

hnolo

tet

and

hnological

i.

nt

lot

trades on

elei

.ii .1

the

in

medical

at

it

Hearing (1972,

the possibilit)
n

ive analysis;

an work, but

as an

strong belief

electrit al

an. mm.

I4fl

um d

mi lua (usually "pathologii

m. null

that

ver

latet piect

brain luin tions and


.

mparat

hnolog) of tht

lines equal to Ins

ording of the brain waves

was mentioned in the


no 88) The

took for the

it

ribi

alsoobtaii

presumablj
this

time

of

iinglt

reductivi

Marcel Duchan

in

a verj

function of consumption and

rj

minded and
notion

x-

(New York Oxford

mark

explored In Morris were conceived as

ironic self-portraits

wen

emotional turmoil, his heroism

artist's self, his

in the face of anxiety.

is

'

r,

cd.

Michel Sanouillei and Elmer Peterson, trans George Heard Hamilton

forged in the context of

other representational consideration,


of the

re-mental"

can be differentiated

whi< h every

in

sell as "exc

expenditure.

the second. Morris's

of

Duchamp was

connection to

body, thereby

artist's

the

of subjectivity as

often relocate the gesture's site

artist's self to

mocking the

tor Morris;

examples

niversii

191

40.

Wax

10

/8

Brain, 1963.

Wax over

x 9'/ 8 inches (20.3 x

27

plaster cast,
x

in

glass case,

23.2 cm). Saatchi Collection,

London.

SELF-PORTRAITS 143

41

Brain, 1963. Eightandone half one-dollar

plaster cast,

in

glass case, 7 /?

x 5

'

bills

over

inches (19

16 5

14,6 cm). Collection Leo Castelli

facing page: 42. Untitled (Silver Brain), 1963.


over plaster cast,
1

in

glass case, 6

x 7 x

7.8 x 14 cm). Saatchi Collection, London

144

Silver leaf

inches (15.2

43. Portrait, 1963. Painted bottles containing body

fluids,

and painted wood frame, V't x 18 J'4 x V'i inches (8.9

47.6
Art,

4.8 cm). The University of Arizona

Tucson,

Edward

Museum purchase

G. Gallagher, Jr.,

Museum

of

with funds provided by the

Memorial Fund.

facing page: 44. Self-Portrait (EEG), 1963.

Electroencephalogram and lead labels, framed with metal


and glass, 70
the art

iii.

>/*

17 inches (179.7

43.2 cm). Collection

of

KT RAITS 147

MEMORY DRAWINGS,

1963

Memory Drawings, executed in September


(nos. 45- 19), were accomplished

Morris's five

and October 1963

context of his interest in the physiological states

in the

(EEG) (1963,

he had recorded in Self-Portrait

(EEG) shows

Just as Self-Portrait

of memory, exploring variations of physiological

Memoi

that consists of a

primary text

ing, a

summary

(or

"drawing"

>

and "those which seek

ol the brain cells"

explanation

changes

in

to the

ways a "cultural memory

models, pictures, maps,


sequential

Jungian notion

that has to do with a

kind

specifii

ultures

an hive would

of a larger
//

197

ri)

which

to reprodui

of niacin in lone lines.

knowledge.

major

role in

wj was

91416

from memory

ilcse

In

Somi
a

ribing

it,

Morris

form and

the

vhich mati bed

<la\s

bgai ithmii

following five pages:

Drawing
i

until tour

-.1

i:

m.

from

mi mory, and

Ins

drawings had been

on.l.m,

formed by the

narrative trail

evi nts of

45.

20

drawings

is

aughi up

in

ing into

establishmi

formal
hi

w 'l\

"i

of

r<

pro

ess of

ni of a

petition and

t<

.i

kind

of

entro|

ij

-mil

47
Ink

mi .mine,

in,

Thi

smoothing
Mi "

ptual hasis

IM

and

ovei
>'

ol

Moi

indi

ed

i
i
i

si

irtii

gi

13 inches (52.1

p.m.)

1963.

33 cm). Collection

(52.1 x

p.m.|

33 cm).

1963.

Colli

48. Third

Memory Drawing (9/16/63. 3:30


m hes (52.1 x 33

gray paper, 2c

p.m.).

1963.

cm). Collection

ual nuani es.

In

11

ralization

again to the

rodui tion

of u

iu.nk. as

effa

atti

ol the artist

thi

ii

witness

making

on gray paper,

Second Memory Drawing (9/8/63. 12:00

sm.il meanii

ontains within

hii h

"i
of

Ink

33 cm). Collection

on gray paper, 20

ol the

mi an

in

Memory Drawing (9/4/63, 9:00

on gray paper, 20'

to

13 inches (52.1

term

ship between

lai

46. First

these

memory,

rosion of

produi tion

mi moi

r<

of shot

hai of lot

ind an

Ii

undoing

in a

the probli matii

Memory Drawing. 1963

Initial
.

'

ompli ted
Ink

as

number of drawings

pro

.i

and energ] wave-, figured

memorj

of

had been established

later (the nuj

in tin

recentl)

series "t lead reliefs

as a run< tion

substanci of the initial pagi oftexi

mi moi

electrical circuitry, batteries,

.1

Morns was

several days alter the generative text

theories of i

In

Morns had

making

to indicate a

reates

later play a

no 88

'

Drawn

29) and was

hive of historical

arc

indh idual memory

of tin

.i

worked

At the time Iwiul Memory Drawing was done.

made \h:,nJ Bulb 1963. no

is

Clearly,

memory"

from whi< h n learns and

rial,

made

effects

shared transtemporal unconsi ions.

of a

but rather a historically

ri

and congealing

mind.

audial recordings, and

means

recently electronic

idi

in

temporally through

etc., or

in print,

ords

rei

not using the term "cultural

marc

entropy

of

either spatially through preservations of

established:

(The

can, Morris suggests in this text, be loosely

compared

more

"aesthetic

compositional elements. Also in 19<

in patterns ot electrical

currents between cells." These models for indh idual

memory

is

composition

reductive, the effect of

of his findings, and in

those which seek explanation in changes in

lasses

it is

details are subsumed by a


Thus memory itself like the
brain waves of the EEG work
becomes a "machine"
bent toward art production, but one used somewhat

which he divides theories of memory into two


(

.(or

Insofar as

derisively, with the closing clown

operation. Next, he constructed

its

Drau

mark.

of

broad, general outline,

works, he began by researching contemporary theories

interpretations of

despite the examples

memory

his interest in

a page of writing to be

a "drawing," or the line ot script a cursive

concrete poetry)

no. 44).

the theory of brain waves, so, in preparation tor these

Initial

would have considered

artists

I963i

49 Fourth Memory Drawing (10/2/63, 9:00


13

fi

Ii

ichi

(52

p.m.)

1963.

33 cm) Collection

f^*

five

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l

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MEMORY DRAWINOS 149

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MEMORY DRAWINGS

181

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u/i/f

MEMORY DRAWINGS 153

ROPE AND KNOTS, 1962-64

The

idea of Modernist art as a progression ot formal

problems

be successfully solved

to

on the reduction

their logically derived essences

was

Previous Knots

less accessible,

mediums

of the various aesthetic

Remember

to

turning

Golden

More conflicted and


establishes a division

'

between attraction and repulsion, creating a tension


between the small, upturned, metal hook on one

to

part of the

inheritance of Morris's generation, one under which

end

they increasingly bridled. To counter this proposition

touch, and the sott. sensuous appeal ot the small

quote Marcel Duchamp's taunt, "There

artists liked to
is

no solution because there

no problem

is

";

gilded knot at the other end.

such as numerical or alphabetical progressions

which

reflect a

boyhood

ot

may be said to enact


Modernism's strictures. The Gon.li.ui

knot, one so difficult to untie that

Morris's Untitled (Kt

<

L963,

51

rio.

own

Clement Gtcenberg's Art jnJ Culiun (1961

inner artistic logic, which

h.is

us

Knmei

Minimalism, Hilton

art or

Modernism

disaffection with
1:

"In

own immutable

and to which works of art must conform

idiomatic significance to describe an insoluble problem.


figures

other Fop

mi

il

thej

in

.1

to uw

Mr Greenberg

criticism, the impersonal process ol history appeals in the

has taken on

it

Hudl)

nonethi

interest in the art ot eying knots,

a critique ot

gray-painted wood rectangle, which repels

they

also reveled in the manipulations of logical systems,

Morris's rope pieces,

of the

muse

ol

an

laws ol development

.iri

not to

end up on

the historn.il ash heap

I.

Morris's piece begins with a neatly geometrical relief

structure divided into five compartments. Each

contains the knotted end ot a rope that descends into


the hopelessly chaotic tangle of something like the

"Gordian problem." The interest here


(rather than resolving, or "solving
polarities

hard and

and

soft, rigid

in

maintaining
physical

a set ol

')

elastii

well-built

-would

and unmanipulated, formed and unformed

tinue in Morris's work, driving the relationship

between

Minimal and subsequent anti-form


made in ">J and

his

The

works.

objects of tins kind,

demonstrate Morris's desire to articulate abstract

arrangements that emphasize material and formal

among

disparities

components, an intention

their

underscored by the combination


the "logii

ol

square or n

In Untitled (Rope

of

flai

rope with

id

cangulai forms.

<

(1964, no

Pi<

54),

a thick pieo

ighteen feet long emerges from a hole


drilled

cerof a wooden triangular

iii

to the wall

Imps

on the

and the wood

many

wh< n

to the floor,

ling into

sitting

Yielding to the

an

snakes

it

cop

in thi

o|

an

bio. ks

f<

foi

of gravity, th<

forct

.iroiiinl b<

of a

wood

Ion

ube

from the wall Th< rope

p. out.

ni.it

.1

gray, as were

the artist's early works

of

Mom

fasi

nation with knots led

their further applii ations

and

.issoi

him

tations

nsidei

su< h as

knotting a string to remind oneself to do something

and
n

l.

ultimately wove

In

in,

to

memoi

fiv<

thi

into the bod) of

drawings (no

on memory, whit h Morris


mull .1 Co/den Met

k<

uti

work

50. Untitled (Box with Water). 1963

of a

box, covered with encaustic, on

d from mi morj

(19'

ri

')

'

and

text

powder

26

14 6 cm). The

Museum

8
ol

Knotted rope and

wood base,
x

10

'

<

Modern

'

Art,

<

inches (20.3

New

knotted
win,

!!

at

>

via

tin

horizontal wall pieci with

is a

intervals, strung
i

at

ross us front

nigmatii instrui mom

ropi

facing page: 51

abovt
l

si

Untitled (Knott). 1963

Painted

Knots

The Detroit

Instil

York, Gilt ol

Johnson.

curious worl entitled W"i monii

tin

painted with metallll

40

wood
x

8.9

HOPE AND KNOTS 135

52.

Mnemonic Device. 1962 Wood,

inscription,

96 inches (243.8 cm)

rope, and paper with

long. Collection of the artist.

facing page: 54. Untitled (Rope Piece)

boxes and rope, painted, rope length: 18


The Museum

53 Golden Memories

[963 Glided

hook

ropl

.old leal,

rH

1.9 cm).

Andy Wait

Vt

')

of

Modern

Art,

New

1964 Two wood

feet (5

49

m).

York, Gift of Philip Johnson.

ARIZONA, 1963

55), the

nt/.

dance Morns

first

developing context

Although

Sitt

196

<

no

4,

to the

it

declared with Modern dance was located in

performers, through which spe<

be

and

language,''

the rhetoric

the

of

Drawing

two traditions

what she called "virtual space"

of

sculptures and ballet's presupposition thai the spaa

which their representations untold


the

space

literal

viewers

of their

Michelson

the "real time" of task perform. m<

and the

upied by the fledgling Minimalist

in

linked

real spa<

ulpture as two

si

would be Aaih

it

sm

crs

h as Simoni

Deborah Hay, Stev< Paxton,


and Yvonne Rainer who would develop tins \e
omposition the furthest and with lu most

in of

Morn-.

[ike

who were untrained had


his

only loin
this

medium.

strin tu red

liiu

pain.

foi

mark within

its

both

Ins

By the fourth

outer edge
this d(

eno

ring

from Ins body

in lassolike eircles

that

L(

in.

grow larger and

(his
(he-

luminous
heads

lights

of the-

and

his

in les

audience

accompanied by the whistling


sound ot Us ow n spin, (he pertonnaiue span goes

il.in>

tO

performer

lion .irust Robert

I.

which wis

preceded b) U

than a rule-driven

less i

which Morris "jousted

perti

with

II

V|.

II

\i,

\,

Ii.

,,

ol

exhibition catalogui (Washington,

Gallery of Ai

1
i

li.u
\

ulpiun

awas

larger.

mill

ii

dam

made

is

spins (wo blue

vt

mfli Cted

us

fix

to

segment,

work was consistent!)

by tensions between neutrality and


si
(elisions
and nonsense
,i

In the third

in. inn.

>

a dancer

ul. ir

it.

m\ ever-

un, with the

rc

attention progressively slutting

is

made

Morris's

arolei

easier access to th<

who remained

Morris,

ntional

01

bla< k. utterly obsi taring the

disnnc lion, those

-shaped object, Stepping away from the fixed

oi

over

lorn. All- llr.

displaced from

measurements

the audience to hurl a javelin into a blue target, the

As

paired reactions against tins tradition.

Although

is

as he takes

unmistakable as the performer

from

different

is

own body

this projectile underscores

between

a parallel

a 7

widening

the aesthetic hierarchies imposed In traditional


or classical balletic tonus

so

the

transfer ot energj from himself to

onventions,

second segment, this axis

measured adjustments he makes on

Judson dancers' "common aim was the establishment


a radically new economy of movement. This required
of

segment had

Segment, as the performer suddcnlv wheels away from

Annette Michelson explained that the

systematic critique

first

axis bj a distance in inverse proportion to the

task performance" or the "dance of ordinary

as

on

movements could

ifi(

involves a successively greater distancing of

tin performer's

new gestural strategy

isolated. Identifying this

not unconnected
notices that each

bodily axis around which he rotated.

its

In the

of obje< is

is

forcefully established as his center of grav iry

syntactical structure was

articulated through the interposition

text

the performer from what the

its

stripped-down emotional and symbolic texture;

somewhat bare and

each section,

One soon

specific gestures

opening

movement

and Waterman Switch (1965, no 69), its strategies


tor generating movement were influential. The break

of

begins to become dear that the progression of the

it

works tour

chejudson Dance Theater

of

tame was eclipsed by

its

number

fingers to indicate the

choreographed and executed, was conceived within the

vi.

hod

180
ns, as

had Column (I960 p 90), with a


Dn sed in blu< work clothes

prolonged motionlessness
Ii

us

s.

pi iii. inn

stands alont on

waist until his upp<


I

duration

In

torso

stun

of tins g<

sideways to

is

is

th(

rmim d

det<

and,

itagi

wnli impcrceptibli slowness, rotates Ins body

thi

at

audieno

bj the

'.'

led n ading ol his


itfoi

55 Arizona

thod forSortin

\l.

ward and iragmai


.ii
w hit h two on n
ii

s<

19t>.}

ludson Memorial

993

of inst rut cio

CO

Ii

toi

net
i

.n

an

Hon

in iln

.
|

it..

ii

In

Inn

New

kyard hold
inn

.1

:.

stun

at

in.

Huntei College,

the
is at

lacing page, inset, below

unfold,

'i

annount ed

reconstruction of Arizona

ho holds up Ins

56 War

iiiui.iiii.M

hi h.

New

lorrls in

with Robert Huol al

costume

ludson

'
I

1964

2 1.3,

February 196

In

before

New

in

Morns performed

21.3 (no.

was pan

York

Clad

neat gray suit and

in a

opening

of the

own

reading

Erwin Panofsky's well-known

of

essay "Iconography and Iconolog)

But

if

by means

When

Panofsky

isual

information, moving from brutishly nonsignifying


visual shape through stages of conventional gesture.

torminj; part

identity, as

performance was intended

word

is

at

D
Press,

the street by removing his

from

sec

im

within

view

ol

is

configuration

the general pattern ol color, lines and volumes which


ol vision

However,

In

weni on,

"\\

automatically do, this configuration as an


ol detail as

hen

abjtct

an even (hat-removing),

have

already overstepped the limns oi purel) format perception and entered a

sphen

Erwin Panofsky,

M..r\ I'leMlcr

Lectures

on the Humanities (Nev,

^ ork

Harper and Row,

l
l

>o.'

As

as a subversion of the very notion of this logic.


a single

ol certain details

(gentleman), and the change

first

happens when

til

utes my world
I

me on

what

found

to the illustration of ideas to be

in cultural texts, Morris's

Banes,

Sail)

Durham: Duke University

an acquaintance greets

Panotsk\ hail explained,

hat.'

nothing but the change

of a careful separation of layers of

and from there

approaches the question of "meaning" in the visual


arts

organized by Steve Paxton and performed

The

187
.'

twenty minutes, as he lip-synched his

series

he stood

tie,

behind a podium, masquerading as an art historian


for

ni

Surplus Dance

small audience ac the Surplus Dance Theater

repeated until nothing

remains but a shell of pure sound,

21.

produces the

form engulfing meaning, thereby closing

of

between form and content on

off the very distinction

which Panofsky's demonstration had depended.


During the performance,

Morris's facial expressions

and reductive gestures, which included looking up


at the ceiling,

and pouring
s<

arms,

his glasses, folding his

were meticulously

ripted to misi oin< ide with the tape of the lecture.

The
of

removing

a glass of water,

belatedness

sounds

in

of sp<

e<

h,

>

ombined with the deferral


unhooked the verj

the performance,

operations and

onventioiis

of

perception and

signification that Panofsky had sought, at each level, to

The method used in the performance recalls Box


-"'
tht Sound oj lt< Ou n Making
no. II , where
1

with

<

ii

nis signifj a

temporal gap,

dam

as well as

where hi xplored
gesture, fun< tional movements, and intervals of
n h spat e At
in H when performance an was
Morris

ngagemi

ni

.!

ith

e,

lopi d, Morris's 21.


,i

sell

no

1.

hniqui

mm kingl)
an

Huntei

di

monstrati d

he

olli

it l<

foi

models
the

pi

of analysis

rformani

selected from thi catalogue

his tor) survej


(

and

listing

ourse thai he had taught

57

ai

21.3

1964

Moms

in

performance

at

Stage 73, Surplus

Dance Theater, New York. Top and bottom: Michael

1993 reconstruction

New

simultaneously marking

his opposition to conventional


artisn.

was

conscious theoretical involvemem with the

disi ipline of art history,

of .hi

York.

ol

21.3

at

Stella

in

Television Studio, Hunter College,

IMPRINTS AND BODY CASTS, 1963-64

By 1964, the phenomenological logic of early


Minimalism began to intersect with Morris's Duchamp-

across a bed of plaster or from dropping the

mrlected concern to construct an impersonal

sheets ot lead, the resultant deformations then

"machine" with which to

The

was a type

result

make

the aesthetic mark.

marking chat was both

ot

precipitate or the body, a pure register oi

45-49],

[nos.

all

43-44] and che

.\l.

atop the vitrine, hidden from

ie\\

in a

lead box.

Drawings

1963), and an experience of the

body inhabiting and displacing space

(as in the early

Once

Slabs [nos. 12-13] and Columns [pp. 90-92]).

again, Morris used the strategy of task performance to

Duchamp

bridge these two possibilities As Mart

el

had done with Femali Figl

Morris,

such as Untitled (Hand and

and Untitled

passage,

its

Morns
/

Line/

works

in

no. 61)

i,

ana

nowhere, bears the

conveys an

II Ids

the lead surface; likewisi

intention to exert

its

hand and

active sense of the artist's

to

l>

denoted the both

also

resistance,

its

and to continue.

force

Id

II

(Stairs) (1964, no. 60), registered tin-

bodily imprint; but

weight,

0),

'

toes clinging to

three-step stain ase

Morris's footsteps as

tr.n es oi

hi

climbed" the work.

two separate though related pints. Morns had

In

made

commentary on

ironic

with the

artist's

authenti

/.

plaster

whose

ii

(1963, no 62)

t)

been

that has

fist

Modi mist concern

thi

"hand'' as prool oi aesthi

ed atop

plai

composed
wooden bo*

is

- no

single drawer contains a folded glove

can be luted onto tins hand.


is

two-tiered glass

is

itrine,

ntitled (Glove)

on the top

hand, palm-si<le up, wearing

ast

is

ill

glov<

1963)

shell oi

hi<

worker's glove

plaster slab that bears an impression

same hand Rather than positing the proti an.


am. is with
lira! hand thai links marks on the

oi that

I.

)ther objei

fantasy

as so

oi

we

Morns

offi

ni

oi torsion,

up

ring

as a reified, nono. 40]

v.

ni mil. in

bod)

chi

d valui

nlii

n\i rlaid

hand

Ik

OI

..I

lli<

in lost

,*

clear in

two

tiered

Ii.ua

Hook

with

ihi

r.nl.ih

obj(

is

di tai hi

d as the

(19'

was madi
I),

u ni

in silvt

mprinting

bod) pari and

le

I;

Marcel Duchamp.

nches (9

Untitled (Silver Brain) [1963, no


In certain othei

mus<

:ensi

inti Hi

in

U])oi sheathed

dollar hills (Brain [1963, no

hum

>>i

ad

-tw^, alti rnati

i.

in

nge

hall<

insti

mov< mi

find

a tool

heroism

to painterly

related to

ts

and

nothing bui

as

it

ralize

liti

awl

mi
in

works

.i

opposed

many

lins,

thai hand, rendering

a strategy plainly

tin

ol eli

hosi
ts

\ ii

thai

im

Female

14

Fig Leaf

1950. Bronze,

12.2 cm). Private collection.

itself

closed

EEG

products (as had been the body-fluid and the


Self-Portraits [nos.

sits

hook onto

The hook

stabilized by being cast in plaster.

by-

its

resulted either from dragging a heavy metal hook

J,

58. Hook, 1963. Lead box with mirrors and steel hook,
glass case with plaster casts on shelves, 16

(40.6

121.9

31.8 cm). Collection

48

of the artist.

12

'

following two pages:


?

inches

59. Untitled (Footprints and Rulers), 1964. Lead over wood

and two cast-lead rulers, 39

23

10.2 cm). Collection Anne and William

x 4 inches
J.

60. Untitled (Stairs), 1975 refabrication

Lead over wood, cast-lead footprints

(914

91.4

94 cm). The

(100.3

60.3

Hokin, Chicago.

of a

inside.

36

1964
x

36

original.
x

37 inches

Art Institute of Chicago. Gift of the

Society for Contemporary Art.

IMPRINTS AND BODY CASTS 163

&

3i

61. Untitled (Hand and Toe Holds). 1964

Lead and

48 x 2' inches 110.2 x 121.9


Courtesy Margo Leavin Gallery, Los Angeles.

two

it

units. 4 x

pi

6.4 cm) eai

li

62. Untitled

wood

(Fist).

box, and glove,

1963. Plaster cast covered with Sculptmetal,

6x12x7

inches (15.2

30.5

17.8 cm).

Collection Leo Castelli.

IMPRINTS AND BODY CASTS 167

SITE. 1964

Morns, accompanied by Caroler Schneemann.


peribrme.:

an event
dan.

>

at Stage

rk,

The program, which ran

for

L_. r^- C~..z< Pjsrimt

in

Dance

partnering, and

''

of Judson's approach to

was

oise

Further, Morris choreographed the piece as a set


a brute equivalence

box on the stage from which the

IS

drilling noise issued.

the masked worker in white, the white-washed


planes of the boards manipulated throughout, and the

r-.-r.

ir.z

soil,

white body of Olympia. As with his Minimal

at the Kunsthalle. in Dusseldorf in October. For the

sculpture. Morris

European venues, another performer was substituted


tor Schneemann The next year, the piece

that

made

certain, in construct

no part would domir..

:* York Theater Rally, a set of

seventeen minutes of the performance. His choi.

him

work through a

performances organized by Raxton and Alan Solomon,

objects enabled

former director of the Jewish Museum: at the

understood not as formal propositions to be

Royal Academy
penhagen;

Once

.:

..-id

Festival, in

Malmo University,

Unncrsiq of Buffalo: and

the

Ann

the stage revealed

tie. like

The action opened with Morris beginning

.ice

r.

lessry

Her arresting

Judd would argue

reception of Manet's painting. Instead, Otymptas

clement

was here intended to underscore a desired and-7


:. in the context
7^r-:
f the New Dance
me end. Moms wore a mask, taken from
made by Jasper Johns, so that the
a mold v

plywood panel

reover, the literal

Yet. as

Donald

in his essay "Specific Objects,"


is

it itself
like Morris's plywood panels
becomes the occupant of a third dimension, and with
the collapse of the distinction between two and
three dimensions comes the collapse or the distinction
between illusionist and real spa

fiuidfy lifting, balancing.

examining, and moving the

would appear

)* 8 (196)1.

DoaaldJ-.

reprinted

affectless. his facial

p unmoved by any physical efl n Then


oth the sense of a workman going about a
construction kxx moving from one sequence of tasks

to

another with no wasted motion, bracketed by the


absurdity of the task. At the end of the performance.
63

r4ocked the audience's view of

Schneemann with the board and resumed

.on

downstage

left,

*i

Site

1964

his original

the stage going to black.

rd

once

conceived of as a real material

>: -r-

Moms or

of

picture plane staged in this

pallor

ng, dropping,

.:

surface-bound forms, disdaining any illusion of a third

the picture plane

'

of visual

dimension "behind the plane.

figure, while

associations with prostitution that had surrounded the

labor he performed

at

painting,

-remed insulated from the

hinting at pre:.'

1962.

and critiqued formalist reac


A >dermst
which privilege the picture plane and its

to

on a couch, her body painted

pun on Modernist

beneath the surface of the images "support," referred

black ribbon around her neck, in a recreation

>

I -Box

dance, coinciding with the revelation of the figure

to relocate

boards to another area of the stage, and

-.:.

pictorial conventions

dismemberment of the

revealing the naked figure of Schneemann,


-

that of

Moms

^ht-toor sheers of plywood painted white.

problems,

involving space, time, and objects.

dressed in white workman's overalls, facing three fbur-

the bean

set of

inquiry into and an expansion of a structural syntax

chigan.

lit,

to

progressively resoked, but. rathet. as constituting

in

at the

darkness pierced by the noise of a

hackhammer. Once

emphasized

by his rejection of absolute pauses throughout the

>

done at th

actural part of the work.

tt:

of relations between objc cts

the Racket Theater in March and the

Judson Memorial Church in April; in Europ


..7- -_ ':.::>t >;<r . .r v ::::~

red with the

qualitM

through the leveling use of the color white: the white

continued to be performed throughout


rk, at

al

(the drill )

the lighring tor the events.


:

in

raham and otherof an expressive musical accompaniment, which

_rd

and ordinary movements

Modern danc;

The^.:

two evenings, included


which Morris peri rmed
one night. Robert Rauschenberg the other). Alex
Deborah
and Yvonne
tlauscher.--

^petition,

order to erode and even burlesque the r

organized by the

r^axton rbr the Surplus

ph\

part of

roc

''

Carotee Schneemann

udke and Sarah Tomimson

hi

1993

.*o. Hunter CoHege.

-stroctior
:

-<3

Schneemann

hi

Ne

GREEN GALLERY SHOW, 1964-65

The Green Gallery, located on West s ~th Street in


\ n York, was directed by Richard Bellamy from 19V)
through the summer of 1965. One of New Yorks
most innovative

art operations

during the early 1960s,

emerging figures
Donald Judd, Morns, Claes

stable of artists included such

its

Mark

di Suvero,

as

Oldenburg, Larry Foons, James Rosenquist, and

George Segal, and

attracted such major collectors as

it

Richard Baker, Philip Johnson. Howard Lipman,


Scull. Bellamy, who had codirected the
Hansa Gallery with Kan Karp. was willing to show

and Robert

novel, nonestablished art

gallery

and was often prophetic

The cooperative

his choices.

Bellamy provided

his artists with stipends

commensurate with the market standard


however, contribute to

did not.

financial success, and, as the

its

market became increasingly competitive,


to

in

orientation of the

was forced

it

64. Untitled (Corner Piece)

108 inches (198.1

cli

In late

1964. Painted plywood. 78

274.3 cm).

October 1964, having returned from


where he had spent nearlj two months

Diisseldorf,

fabricating

Li

show

for a

Galerie Alfred

ai

Schmela, Morns was united by Bellamy

to exhibit at

the Green Gallery, During November, he fabricated

seven pieces tor the exhibition, whi< h ran from

ember 16, 1964 through January 9, 1965.


A departure from the neo-Dada lead and Sculptmetal
1

)'

that he had exhibited

fs

would show

at the

Green

at

linn las gall<

Si

and

rj

later in 1965, these

rallerj

<

human in scale, geometrii


Mcrkm Pilgrim gray, were o lated
involvement with the New Dance, evoking

seven plywood objects,


in

form, and painted

to Morris's

Ins earlier stage props

ini

in

large Untitled (Boiler); Untitled

(Cloud), a slab suspi nd< d from the

from us

raised

bi

eiling at ey<

!_']>.

am spanning

orm

'

tetrahedron

Piei

acoi

(no 6

level

ni

aspect

length of thi

cheapness

floor;

cangulai

ntitled (TabU

I,

ind U\

nil

s/.

the flooi and

an angulai

wedged
its

led

Wall

broad slab leaning against

wall

hiti

cural

siti

and

cho
Minimal pi

f pi

thi

important

man
foi

ial

lu

that the

partaking
ot iginal

thi

foi

ii

oiu

pi urn

he largt ness ol theit scale,

ol their materials,

outset to b<

anothi

view
Morris's

n fabricated

bjei ts wei

oth with the an

Painted plywood,

30.5 cm).

and

east ol fabrication

works wen nevet regarded

as pret ious

wen intended from the


fabricated, knocked down, and
as the) moved from ont installation site to

or uniqui objects; instead the)

CO allow
a di

oi

meant

into corners, or bracketi

adjai

ntitled

thi

min

248.9

ol

rounded cornet running along

Bridging, or

12 inches (248.9

with

Flooi

am

si

forming a

arlj

98

bi

galli i\

regular

I),

65. Untitled (Wall/Floor Slab). 1964

98

'ntitled

into a cornet ol thi room.

fit

B
oik

ion [no.

I,

lei

.md timi

(Morris's second solo exhibition in \< w

d th<

1c

to the task-

iii

bodies in real spai

The show
York)

ommitmi

and

mov

oriented

his

the "publii

In

wi

ol thi

re

ont

logii

ivt

"i thi

d, thus, as reprodut

nous,

multipli without an

Exhibition at the

Green Gallery, New York, December

1964-January 1965,

Left to right: Untitled (Table), Untitled

(Corner Beam), Untitled (Floor Beam). Untitled (Corner


Piece), and Untitled (Cloud).

GREEN GALLERY

SH

171

MIRRORED CUBES,

1965

Untitled < Mirrored Cubes) (1965, no. 66),

shown

at the

Green Gallery, New York, in February 1965 together


with a group of Leads from 1964, was first fabricated
in January 1965. The work, which since then has been
refabricated in dimensions varying from twenty-one
to thirty-six inches per side,

comprised of four cubes

is

mirror laminated onto wood, these placed

ot Flexiglas

floor in a grid pattern

on the gallery

based on the size

of the room.

The
CO

use of the cubic form and of regular placement

imply that each unit

an integer within a larger

is

cubic whole, a notion of cohesiveness reinforced by the


interlocking reflections cast by the mirrored surfaces,

work on

places this

would

a developmental path that

lead to the gray-painted, fiberglass Untitled

shown

(Battered Cubes) (1965, no. 67)

Dwan

at the

Gallery in Los Angeles. In the latter work, the contrast

between the canted outer walls of the cubes and


their perpendicular inner faces creates an implicit,

enveloping shape, or gestalt, that embraces, and


thereby unites, the four separate parts into a truncated

pyramid. In this cohesion, Battered Cubes

the

fulfills

ideas on the gestalt that Morris was then developing

and would publish, early

the gestalt

part

first

and

a single, immediately grasped

onstant shape

1966, in the

in

"Notes on Sculpture." For Morris, the value of

oi Ins

was

capacity to

its

subsume

other

all

qualities or properties of the object into a "unitary"

form: "If the predominant, hieratic nature


ot

the unitary form tunc turns as a constant,

particularizing relations

hereby

ale,

si

all

proportion,

these

etc

.,

are

Rather they are bound more

and indh idually together

sivel)

ii

an< riled.

ot

developing his ideas on the gestalt, Morris, in

In

the second part oi "Notes on Sculpture," points out


iistano ol certain properties
oi

mphasis on

spe<

ifit

impressively high finishes"


unitariness

shape,

ol

a fra<

h a

Ii.

in

h In

impn

inti rnal

Ins prai

ssivi

divisibility

between

hi

orporation into the

the visual experience

emphatically

and

rejects,

illusionisni,

Donald Judd, would seem


tii

e in

VLirrortd Cubi

ch<

.md fragmi ntation

with

bi

Y>

ol

understood as operating

1971 o-libn, dlion

both

this

theory and practice oi both

66 Untitled (Mirrored Cubei)


original

in<

oi

K high finishes" and guarantee

ontradii tion should

1965

intense color, say,

internal relationships"

shares with
in

its

on

to

ture

of the underlying whole thai

Sm

sensuous material or

in

ol a

Plexiglas mirrors on wood, lour units, each 21

21 inches 153.3 x 53.3

172 ROBER1 MO]

53.3

<

the

Morns

MIRRORED CUBES 173

and Judd. Like Morris's use

employment

ot mirrors, Judd's

lacquered color and of paradoxical

of

own work

strucrural relations in his

1965

ot

lolated

his principle that the experience ot the specific

object should be exactly coextensive with

That

description.

its

physical

had entered

this contradiction

Minimalist practice from almost the very beginning


was.

in fact,

as an

noted bj sonic

the early writers on this

ot

Indeed, Robert Smithson welcomed lllusionism

work.

important development within Minimalism

such that "an uncanny materiality" produced h\


the surface impression would act to "engulf the basic
structure

But perhaps the best way

understand this

to

seeming contradiction within Minimalism


Constantin Brancusi's work, which,
a reading in

terms

precedent tor that

who

to turn to

is

in its resistance to

ot

internal relations, served as a

ot

both Judd and Morns, lor Morns,

chose the Romanian

artist as the subject ot his

master's thesis, the repetition and geometrical order ot

Endhw Column

the

employed,

tor

(1937); the unitary shapes

example,

Beginning

"t tbt

World

1920); the quality of industrial finish in the polished

uX (1916); and. as a

surfaces ot works such as Princt

corollarv ot that last, the reflection ot contingent

events recorded

passing on the lustrous bronze

111

up

facades, whi< h set


Constantin Brancusi, Princess X. 1916. Polished bronze,

22 inches (55.9 cm)

high,

and limestone base,

(18.4 cm) high. Philadelphia

Museum

of Art,

'

contradk cion between

the "Platonic solid") and

idealized shape (the notion

ol

the happenstance reflection

of

the

iewer

were

all

to

inches

The Louise and Walter

have implications for his Minimalist work

Arensberg Collection
Morris,

reprinted in Mini

(New York Dutton,


!.

bruar)

Gn

ed

ot)

19<

(O tober

Morris,

Banco

in
I

tin

dimensions

illusion ism

which

is

Battcock

and

'

ridofthi problei

real spaci

art

ol literal spa<

space

in

and around m.irks and colore

riddance of oni of th< salient and most obje< tionabU


in

Halifax

(Donald Judd,

in

reprinted in

'Specific

Donald)

Nova Scotiat

Rosalind Krauss,

Objects

nd Design, 1975], p

olli

Allusion and Illusion

in

Ifl

Donald Judd,*

M
Rol ert

Smith

(Philadelphia

Dot

Jd Judd,"

7-1

Sculplon,

'

\n

,i,

loll

<

xhibition
.i

I",.

(New

~i

orli

l,r

Mi

(
I

unpublished masti

in

Institute of Contemporary

r's

th< sis.

"

lunti

..ik ol
r

Col

<

onstani in Brani

\i a

n
"i

"it.

67. Untitled (Battered Cubes), 1965. Painted plywood, four


units,

each 24

36

36 inches (61

91.4

91.4 cm).

MIRRORf

17 5

RING WITH LIGHT, 1965-66

showed

In 1966, Morris

Among them was

group of

Dwan

polyhedrons at the

break, both in temporal and spatial terms, with the

fiberglass

Gallery in Los Angeles.

principles of high

Untitled (Ring with Light) (1965-66,

moment

no. 68), a large ringlike form, eight feet in diameter,

composed of two
from the

The

between the

slits

work appeared

Museum

in the

Los

of Art's exhibition American

which appeared

Clement Greenberg

disembodied, purely cognitive receiver

A month

its

after the

which proceeded from

commitment

to the

within the other

derided as

to be

double and inextricable

Judson Dance Theater and

more than

to the

each imbricated

justified this

show's closing, Michael Fried seconded Greenberg by

characterization. Indeed, no other Minimalist had

publishing "Art and Objecthood," the most sustained

an equivalent connection to the rationalization

and focused attack on Minimalism up

the body's gesture as the basis for the development


plastic form.

For Fried, the issue of the object's "presence,"

time.

which he compared
in

until that

to the presence of another person

room with the

the

Because of

viewer, was again a central issue.

interior illumination, he singled out

its

he called Minimalism's "covert anthropomorphism":


is,

It

Transgression," faced

Clement Greenberg,

argument, Fried proposes that

his

reprinted in

On

audience.

atrii al,

quality he

.1

between

distini tion

painting and

ondemned

Recentness of Sculpture,'

two most

ol

1968),

writers

was not thai

among

has n(

.irs

Antk

waj

ol

11

In

I".

Ol

and

ontingem

is.

It

harai ter, thi

the

ilinik.

pp 116

17

in Ins

(
l

>s

any way
1

in

in

thai
1

Thus,

it

was

up.ition ol the real Spai

its b<

holder,

ol that physii al

titeralist

its

l)(
1

emphasis on

relationship

176 ROI

But

it

both sides

in

the

diffen d sharply in their estimation

legitimacy

whili

|un<

foi

P01

nding

ol

Morris and Judd, literalism


thi

prim

iples ol the avani

Greenberg and Fried

it

constituted

'

has

last
!

in /' ....../

965), reprinted

NovaS

(Judd,

the

in
ii

aCollegeof Art and Design,

including,

it, .!-

of vision

ii

rhen

seems, tin bJboUn

nothing thai

wen dtcUm
.

means

thai 'the entire situation


it

in

hi

i.ikiv noti

'I

in

>>i

ttion,

to thi experience, in question" (Fried, in Battcot k,

addi

11. 1I1. ,

worth remarking

//ofit

nothing within bit fiJJ

d on Minimalism's phi nomenological

Kt<

gardi

ountj

181)
I

exactly that

iporal conditions ol viewing, that led Fried


this .in

tistii

wlpttm

Angeles

been painting 01 v ulpture Usually

and

in

avoiding the illusionism

iated with traditional form

Minimalism's aggressivi

disputi agn

in

os

Gregorj Battcock

Ison

Robi n Mori

'ii

rj

ol

\"

I969),p|

\" Ai

is

chibition

and

ritical

Halifax

1975). p

painting

ol

.]

ulpture, as

both the

les

related, closer) or distantly, to oni 01 the other

Objects" that such objects should

Specifii

\%

Writm.

both Morns and Donald

prohfii

ai

ulpture. In this analysis. Fried drew

si

Minimalists) Indeed, Judd had argued

ill

ol

.'

pp

Mink

blurring the

tor

m< diums such as

sep.1r.1tt

on the writings

|ik!>|i[|n

ihared

"An Aesthetics

A^ Donald Judd wrote, "Hall or moreol the best work

that basis he judged the

t.

.issoi

ol

atalogui (Los Ang<

<

Art and Objecthood,

(New York Dutton.

experience of Minimalist sculpture to be irredeemably

sc

name

against Fried's accusation ol

analogous to the performance of an actor

is

it,

into the

Art, 1967),

ol

Muli

2.

crowding him

viewer's space, even to thi poini of

or

ott

from grace.

fall

oftht Sixliti, exhibition

the intrusion of the anthropomorphic objei

essay

debate around Minimalism, as Annette

critical

Museum

Continuing

ilirci tly

ol

presence

ol the body's

numerous commentators have remarked

as

inner, even secret, life."

ili'

ol

within the work ol art that became the ground of

"hterahst"

approvingly, as though the work in question has an

within

was the stake

It

Michelson's defense, in the

with Light as the quintessential example of what

that Fried

detractors, Morris's development,

rethinking of the sculptural object

a feeling of "presence" by exploiting the nonart look

of the large-scale industrial object.

Minimal sculpture came

If

theatrical" by

anti-aesthetic attempt to create

its

existing

pitted against Minimalism's mongrel "theater

in the show's catalogue,

criticized Minimalist sculpture for

what he considered

pure pictorialism

this ideal of

an instantaneous vision that defines the viewer as

Sculpture of the Sixties. In his essay "Recentness of

Sculpture,

as

divorced from real time.

was

It

as

half-circles.

following year the

Angeles County

glows

half-circles. Fluorescent light

Modernism, which they saw

postulating a visual mastery occurring in a cognitive

^iii<

atalogui

n>

"i

A\ ashington,

is

68. Untitled (Ring with Light), 1965-66. Painted wood

and fiberglass and fluorescent

light,

two

units,

each 24 inches

(61 cm) high, 14 inches (35.6 cm) deep; overall diameter

97 inches (246.4 cm). Dallas Museum


Fund and

of Art,

General Acquisitions

matching grant from the National Endowment

for

the Arts.

WITH

[.Kill T

77

WATERMAN SWITCH,

Morris's final

dance composition was Waterman Switch

performed by the

(no. 69). a trio

Childs, and Yvonne Rainer, in


Festival of the Arts

Today

performed

later that

Theater

New

in

1965

Morris's recitation ot a portion of Leonardo's notebooks

March 1965, at the


The work was

at the

where

Judson Dance

reviews.

manner reminiscent

In a

of the earlier Arizona


no. 63), the

t.

a boulder, stood with their backs to the audience,

holding

sounds of a tape recording

cart fully

Muybridge's motion studies

Eadweard

featuring a burly naked

over, lifting a rock,

and throwing

were projected. Morris himself entered the

to the out-of-sync

of rolling boulders.

empty frame, duplicating

dragged by Childs to a central position

the position

assumed by

As the lights came up, Childs repositioned the


moving them to the other side of the stage and

tracks,

extending

oft

it,

and Morns and Rainer resumed

When

onstage, whereupon, to the rhapsodic strains of an aria

their creeping journey.

from Giuseppe-

point, Morris poured a small vial of mercury

opera Simon Boccanegra, Morris

Verdi's

and Rainer. clad only

shimmering mineral

in

and

oil,

it

last

Muybridge's subject.

After a

plywood tracks

brief blackout, a set of gray-painted

to enact the last

taped description. Then the

of Morris's

man bending

As the

performance began, foam-rubber rocks were rolled on

where they bounced around

and attempted

a rope,

stage went dark and a series of slides of

seventeen-

minute piece divided neatly into distinct segments


or fields that resist narrative cohesion.

was

during which the three performers, each stationed

sequence

(1963, no. 55) and Site (196

stage,

dealing with the erosive effects of rivers on stones,

on

met with enthusiastic

it

This disquisition was succeeded, on the tape, by

Lucinda

in Buffalo

month

'fork,

artist,

they reached the halfway

down

Rainer's back, the silver liquid breaking into drops and

locked in a face-to-face embrace, began slowly and

showering the

methodically to traverse those tracks, shadowed by the

the remaining twine as she walked back and forth

mans

figure of Childs, clad in an outsized

As she moved, Childs unwound


shoulder,

waj

its

Next, Childs stood, holding

Stage

Morns, holding

pole, while

hat.

a<

beneath them. Childs unraveled

performing area, us

ross the

The

Labyrinth.

arc

seeming

form

to

trio exited.

end stretching behind her and threading

its

ofl

and

suit

of twine over her

a ball

floor

long

other end, which bore a

its

<

calces

red flag that concealed the lower half of his torso, ran

was performed is part of an event thtt also included

./.

ii

hilds's solo

<

arnatim (1964) and EUim

name (com

it-,

working

as

.i

sunn

.i

road in

<

r<rrw/(1963)

lu

piea

alifomia thai Morn', had examined

when

.'<

the circumference around her During tins segment, a

dame and its sequences,


mode of performance

tape ol his voi( e disc ussed the


oik e

at

under

n Sexive

and transforming
within

his critical discourse into an object

it:

69.

Waterman

Rainer
/

hope eventual/)

will then thou

nyone

bat

to

slides

slid,

tht

11

h,i\

dam
mi

n
i

be

<t-noli

occurring.

It

-i

A u

<

//</*

oj tin

would, of course,

imagint a largt

know later.
when

tuppose

n mon

it

ot

tht

rj

possiblt to

tlide projected against tht

tndom

ti

iln in .ill

on

stmi,

ateithei

with

almost to

>/./<

back

h l>LI

toward

it .it

tht

)"ii.

ont

wings

Run

chest height.

./

Put
long

Tht

will slowly, ever so slowly, move toward

tht ont in tht

<

nit r

would bt

lis,

usi,l

utilizing tht roundnt

In t

I Hill.

7M

tin

Let

twoatei

an J

occurring, hut this

which would depict three people,


in

"

>/<>

section whilt

possiblt to thou

is

qut

(torn

bt

tection whilt this tection

been done.

rhaps

/'<

n in the last section actually

could thou

of this

example,

iuring the timt

rhapi

tlidt

let

tection, for

oj this

rolled oil

tins

oj this

photographing nou they will

is

Minn

/'(

madt

mon

./>

ss

/ his stun,

.m aid to balance than

in

Switch, 1965. Morris, Lucinda Childs. and Yvonne

performance

at the Festival of the Arts

Today. Buffalo.

Jb-

M
w

//*

PERMUTATION, 1967

group

In a

works produced

ot

March of that year at the Leo

196", and exhibited in

in

Castelli Gallery in

Morris explored the notion

ii>rk.

which involved him

permutation,

of

modular conception

in a

sculpture based on elements that could be

ot

systematically rearranged and regrouped to form rings,

wedges, boxes, and soon. Accordingly, the units

making up

the works were reconfigured dailj (as would

be the case

in his later piece

with schemata and

mpanied

Continuoh

A hand drawn

no. L07]).

chart.

possible configurations,

lists of

the pieces. Like his earlier Minimalist

work, these large, cool-surfaced polyhedrons were


painted

The permutation

gray

a neutral

however, are

pieces,

which, because

of fiberglass,

us greatet

of

malleability and durability, allowed Morris to

make works with more complex shapes and

detailed

curves than was possible with plywood

Although the permutation works follow


the trajectory

of

Minimalism, they depart from

its

emphasis mi monadii form Instead, the segmented


pieces sn.

tin

viewer that the shapes are


an interview with David

strictly provisional. In

Morns, nevertheless, mad<

Sylvester,

the issue ot shape was

still

work, explaining thai instead


possible

'

liar that

entral to the effei

working out

of

the

of

all

configurations ot the series, he deliberate

[j

privileged continuous arrangements that would

He further remarked
puns arose, in pan,

produce rings or squares.


of

permuting

the

diltii ulties

Ins

sc

son

his

presented

xperiem ed

iisrll

mc

to

The

thai

works

oni

rilniii

situation

"i

light

is

cingi in

and the

reinfi

Ins

is

ol

ontii

both of which an
iti

ei

|uallj

nci

ch<

sui h

room

ivation thai fui thi

ol

Bui now

in

sul

is

ij

b
the

tim< and spa<

10

HO

si 21

ind the
it,

(120.7

the shapes

configuration with eight units, each

New

tors

fai

size ol the

oed by the provisional natun

si ri< s

to the establishmi ni ol a

facing page: 71. Untitled (Stadium)


.1

added)

relationship with the bodj of thi viewei

as angli

Changes During the Exhibition

Lithograph, dimensions and location

unknown.

mighi make

with the earlier plywood pieces, the


1

(tor Untitled (Stadium])

sun

in gi tting

possibli shapes" (italics

rathei

1967

tonus thai would havi nodefinitivi shapes. Inn

of

70. Floor Plan with Dates of

fi

he had

ulptures through doorways

of

thai the

Eva Hi

21 5.9

47

120.7 cm). Solomon

York. Panza Collection.

1967. Fiberglass,
'

R.

85

47

'

inches

Guggenheim Museum.

.18

below: Untitled (Stadium). 1971. permanent outdoor


installation. Oiled steel, eight units. 4 feet

22

6 inches

22

feet x

feet (1.37 x 6.71 x 6.71 m) overall. Fairmount Park

Association, Philadelphia.

facing page: Untitled (Stadium). 1967 Two configurations


with four units

SERIALITY

Working

was, perhaps, the most widely

in series

adopted practice

1960s

of

sculpture, whether in the hands

ol

The

artists, or Color-field painters.

which

painting as

art, in

was

way

But

from one work

was

it

through

and

of

composition.

seriality

Donald Judd, SpecificObji


DonaldJ

ns

s.im

the cim

c.i

fiberglass

nu. ins

oi

in Ins

cii

avoiding the need

this use ot series:

The

simply order,

one thing

is

order

than he was

of seriality

permuting

form

a singli

posi

idem

where the

Vf/'rri

stable

unpainted

s,
!,

no

16),

no 14)

and

in

complex This

196

nnels)

ai

also a

h foui

two

Untitled

omposc d

<

f<

grid, so that tin


is

is

nt ol

Fiberg/asi
of

si

oui as

between

if

on

ai

work exploits the

tin

Bui

repei ition

rial

si

as

mOV< mi

the

(Nim

high and

squan
.,i

is

also true

nine two fool

ol

inti rsi ice

fool

.all.

is

whic h

with us investigation

'3),

ir.insluc cut fiberglass

squan columns

ubt

72), in

form with

r<

ii

aluminum mesh,

1969, no

occurs

it

no

'.

die mdiv idual

steel or

xpandi d

[/-<

ol tins

(19

g( Stall ol

\uwer And

Untitled (Fib

the fiberglass version of his earlier

in

and shaped

bj a use of materials

moire patterns form and

ire

in

ii

-is

joints

have be< n

to

multiple reflections Bui

its

of

nUntiti

and

When Morns

Liven element, his use

of a

in

shattered by
us.

lunges

experienced.

lu

"compromised

intentionally

the

of nails

version that involved

that renders the basic unit optically

the

eeirscvl

plywood, and

interested in tins

less

in a

strategy seems, almost from the start

of

in

Minimalist sculptures through the

exact repetition

e\

like that of continuity,

generate

to

the way us shapi would

most

waj to achieve subtly

after another."

Morris seems to have been

type

of

not rationalistic

is

.,

shadow presences

tor the

Minimalist works Subsequently, Morris used ilu material

a slightly rawer state

but not rigidlj smoothed

underlying but

.es

s L ( a

Nov

188

forms, which had been extremely difTiculi to ctto

steel plates

As Judd explained

or his rows of hrebrii ks.

1965). reprinted
Halifax:

II

College of Art and Design, 1975), p

units, implicit!)

juxtaposed

of

and contingent.

Jiv isible

Judd's assemblages ol stacked boxes

Carl Andre's "rugs

ol

the nine

of

to the next

could be expanded without limit. Tins was true


Id

reflections of the

units render them, like Mirrored ( ubes, undeniably

was introduced into the single work, which, as the


composite of repeated, unvaried

and the muted

intangibility;

Minimalist practice thai

in

veiled passage

surroundings playing across the surfaces

automating the process

ot

The

series

element, or "found" image would he repeated, with


variations,

through the fiberglass produces an effect of

Minimalists, Pop

a single formal configuration, geometric

minor

21221

Morris's skinlikc Felt: (pp.


of light

in

despite this "order,

ofthi

sleeves,"

olor.

with their

oi

fiii

tli<

hi
.in

>

is

oxj

g<

t,

when

n wi n

texture and

hi ighti

'I

chroi

and

in its liquid stati

following three pages:

72 Untitled (U Channels)

d to thi

lui id,

12x61

graj

thi

1969

E)

crappi d

Minimalist works,
I

unpointed

Solomon

R.

inches (160

Guggenheim Museum. New

106.7

156.2 cm).
Hon

Yorl

painti d surfac es

unpainti d

73. Untitled (Nine Fiberglass Sleevesl

196

enl
i

hi.
.iir

effei

irregularly streaked

in places

ompan

of

ii

HI

ol

earliei

.m on.

bubbled

pockets

tinj

illegibli

material in a semiraw,

The fiberglass
ars

translucent fiberglass surfaces

an ambiguous

.in

ic

useofthi

Ik

thi

unqualifiabli
ii.

I.

in

mat*

iality,

to thai ol

irt.

New

York

Sonnabend

61

Collet Hon,

INDUSTRIAL FABRICATION

Two paradigms

underlie the insistence with which the

Minimalists subtracted every experience

of the "artist's

that, despite their industrial roots, often

surprisingly bodil) or energetic and

imparted

shimmering

hand" from the appearance oi their work. One of


these is the readymade. in which the manufactured

effects.

object, merely selected,

surfaces challenged assumptions regarding the visual

The

other

self-evidently divested

is

ot personal intervention

by the

artist in its fashioning.

the "work ordered by telephone," the

is

These effects
1965, no 66),

stability of the

came

This by-product

One

renders handcrafts obsolete.


fabrication

that plans

is

which

principle of

fa<

to call an

tory

drawn up by one person


might be tar

works himself, the

early Minimalist

in

the

his

.'

involved in the phenomenology

Moms. Ami form

Universit) Press. 1979

permutation

of

experiences

ording to their

ac<

committed

that they were

plai

to the

but

ment

logi(

what Morris

>>t

the well-built," by which he was referring to

called

the industrial rationalization

shape

ot

Morris and Judd crafted their earliest works from

wood, but very soon began

pis

that both required the

inti r\

work

to

materials

in

ntion ot fabri< ators and

intensified the industrial qualit) of the objl


surfaces.

However, the logk

carried with

the-

it

working from plans also

ot

only on paper, to be fabricated


the

lit lire

)ne such example

Pan/. di

nil

Biumo

ilized until

With

tin

ritical

Miiiim.il:

>

to n
1

1.

pi at

ion

plans

from

prai In

medi

ling

new method

In addition, this

was appealing

as a pr.n in al
t<>

the

Iiiiin lln less.

work

wa\

in

man

unmanageabh using handcraft methods,


nands within Minimalist

answi
foi

<

the

such as Alfn d

radii al dissoi iation

forms, allowing artists

wlnli

i|<

of th<

re able, bj

fabrii ators

dec ision

and arrangement

ill

quired

at

success

ial)

io In n Id ol

date

plans and not

Of

Although undi k oring a


hand ol tin si iilptol, this

lion

form

these mists wc

111.

is /

19

land finam

and Donald l.ippup on

Morris

l>\

in the

mid- 1960s, to consult with

rtist's

unknown

an

at

was original!)

Mi. whii h

'

"making" works

possibility ot

variation in

man

rial

and

all

;i

hi

ulptun

s<

and

<

<

ulptural produi cion to


into

.!

<

01 in
1

man

aluminum m<
lass,

HH

ih

rials sin h as

aluminum

and colorful

icpandi d

l><

5t<

ams, translui

01 rcflectivt

plastics,

and
<

of
.

was

it

its

p. 34

Robert Smithson, "Donald Judd,"

or example, projected different

toss tire of reflections.

uncanny materialism," discussing

in

(Philadelphia: Institute of Contemporary

plywood polyhedrons were conceived from the outset


as multiples Tins meant that they were not only
carious/

of

opposite: entropy.

simple

large,

swallowed up

not in terms of the conservation of form but of

are executed by another at a site that

removed from the drafting room.


Although Morns, like Donald Judd, made

to be

both Morris's and Judd's use


fabrication was what Robert Smithson, by V>~

used attention

of industrial fabrication,

internally reflective

Minimalist polyhedrons, suggesting,

the Russian Construe mists had

on the nature

whose

instead, an erosion of such stability, as the forms

notorious example through which, in the mid- 1920s,


toe

recall issues raised bj

nt

mediums

An.
u

ifiibition catalogue

1967), reprinted in

New York: New

York

1967 Aluminum,

74. Untitled (Square Donut)

12 feet

12 feet (1.12

3.66

3 feet 8 inches x

3.66 m). Private collection.

INDl'

189

75. Untitled, 1967 Aluminum I-beams, 5 (eet 6 inches

12 feet (1.68

New

MM)

3.66

3.66 m). Solomon

York, Panza Collection.

R.

12 leet

Guggenheim Museum,

76. Untitled, 1968. Aluminum,

4.27 m). Collection

5x14x14

feet (1.52 x

4.27

of the artist.

INDUSTRIAL, FABRICATION 191

LEADS

Bronze has

own

its

remarks that Morris's Leads displa) main signs

ations within the

set

many

history of sculpture, carrying, tor

delayed action;

reasons, the

made permanent. That is why the


Umberto Boccioni's Futurist

sense of form

ontinuity in Spact

lsMl

).

consummate Modernist testimonial to movement and


to forms perpetually coming into bemi:. delivers
the work to a profound historical irony. Later in the

century, Jasper Johns,

meaning

a part ot the

monumental and

George Orwell's 1984 with those


Milium B (
he links them to Han
dway

to support.

medium

may

had only

ii

view, tlu\ were

ol

museum

in a

also retails the lead


tor

while she danced.

and again

196

in

i.

before and during

him

Dusseldorf, the material provided

and Open ground, on whi<

make

also furnished tin artist

which he shared with

studio,

.1

M.u k

in/

Ii

of

At the end of his approximate^ month


Morns exhibited a group ol lead it In fs at
Schmela's Dussi Idorl gallery. Among the works shown
ro.

long Stay,

Untitled (1965, no 84),

ntit/edl 1963

64,

and Untitled (Cast Glove and Imprint


irlier group ot Leads, together with Mirrored
"

at

the

in

<

rallt i\

\i w

in

Tlu

a<

and

the Leads

ill

harged

in tin

some

in

<l

ol a

Beuys

onography"

a tract

tht

othi

rs,

relativi

,r,

Id ol all

Rather,

I,

in

embedded

some

on positions,

tin

mala

om

not

it

ol

.no

.1

di la)

<u

l.i

the

lead surface has

left

contact; the imprint

penis

is

relatively eke ipherable.

(Hand and

invitation

so

rei

Holds) (1963,

Tot

hands have been

of toes aikl of

other works, rulers

In several

of fort

in tht

surrounding

in glass

/ /

In th

anv
in

cter)

Ni Yoi

hi<

l>

was

'

in

shaped forms fabricated bj Morris

In

two

artists

I"

ing

to

\<

ad's

manipulate

tangulai
a

h, as

lors,

5mithson

planned <"

pi

rform

been performed simultaneous!) In Beuys


ii

Robert Smith

Duchamp's no
/

r\

batteries

bui Mi

mill

it

as)

<

oi h

readil)

impact combines with

parallels Marcel
/

seem

in the surfaci of tht plaques, in

Ii.im

omplex dynamii ol mov< mi ni and stasis, whit


in
ntropj and Ni w
Rob< M Smithson who

Monuments

be considered

The imagery

m\ ground.

toj

tall)

notion

may

tads.

ripples of energ)

ases registt ring hue

used, in

and

the most important, for Morris,

In Morris's relativi
i

ol

grip marks

the

exhibited

ch

mi tapl

its

undi rstood as

softness, whit h

things

point

ntitled

.1

of the

pushed into

at

ulva or an eret

Isewhere,

Bui Morris was careful to deemphasiz< the

b\

the-

oi

materials possible symbolii associations


fi<

with

isualization of tht results

identifiable

iiiu-s

role in

knowledged by Morns, who

bai k into th(

ot different forces, all

"ii

coils, a ball

behind

the

t.

the statu with

of

ol toree

mm ing

have emanated from batteries, conduits, terminals,

,n<

lork

tlu
t

kuuls

from

conduct energy, which had

major, symbolically

work, was

some

is

to

abilit) of lead to
a

form

at

Smithson

root."

to prevent her breasts

impressed into Lad bars

h 1965.

played

the actions

locates

Morris had fashioned

lira

ot different

to

no 61

several small works,

mobile,

ol

no. 80),

exhibited

the'

on which tones

h he could, SO CO speak.

who

dealer Alfred Schmela.

which he

The well-balanced combination


new

nan) was underwritten bj the

tri]

Yvonne Rainer

to

isit

a relativelj

own mark.

his

Morris's

with

L963, no.

caught

and caveman are housed under one

rarel)

making

oran's

<

1958), (Lies

natural history, "where the spaceman

of

been adopted by sculptors. So, when Morris began


lead reliefs, initially with Litanies

From Smithson's point


in the extreme past and

1959).

all

future," the paradoxical juncture ol

of lead, although prior to the aggregates

(dating from 1958) ofJoseph Beuys,

and Squalor

Reason

applied to the

In

1962), Johns's Tennyson

B-movieOm

Flavin's

Oldenburg's ray guns, and Frank Stellas Tbt Mat

the objects he pressed

of

similar reading

Flesh

states or ideas

ot the

of

it

rhetorical connotations of bronze

with the total banality

mixing the time

fossilized sexuality by

own cast-bronze

of his

Morris's imprints

erections and vaginas as tending to illustrate

of

bulb and Ballantme Ale cans, contrasting the

light

it

made

control ot this irony,

in

ot

"backward

looking future," they provide a key to understanding

much contemporary work Naming

casting in bronze ot

sculptun

in their effort to disclose a

16

is

ii

nli. In

in

bitf,

which would

from the projet

A
i

ipyandNew Monumcm
(New York New York

Holt

Universit)

ins

77. Untitled, 1965. Polished Sculptmetal over Masonite,


lead, ball of twine, lock, battery!?),

11 feet 7 inches

3 inches (1.83

Collection Mrs. Victor W. Ganz,

and wire brush, 6 feet

New

3.53

.08

rn).

York.

193

'I

facing page: 78. Leonardo, 1964. Lead over wood, wax, and
wires,

1
'

inches (29.2

22.9

1.3 cm). Collection

Florence and Brooks Barron.

79. Untitled, 1964. Lead over wood and Sculptmetal, 17


20''4 x

Inches (43.2

51.4

2.5 cm). Lannan Foundation,

Los Angeles.

LEADS

95

IX,

facing page, top: 80. Untitled, 1963-64. Lead over wood


and rope, 24

36

2 inches (61

91.4

x 5.1

cm).

Location unknown.

facing page, bottom: 81. Untitled. 1964. Lead over wood and
two

19 J / 4

batteries!?),

35

inches (50.2

90.2

x 7

cm).

The Sadoff Collection.

82. Untitled, 1964. Lead over wood, plaster cast, Sculptmetal,


and two batteries!?), two panels and
(177.8

156.2

20.3 cm)

overall.

shelf,

70

61

'/

8 inches

Lannan Foundation,

Los Angeles.

'I

83 Untitled 1964. Lead over wood,

tin

,(')

[115.6 x

92.7

II

20 3 cm)

overall

Collection Sydney and Frai

84. Untitled, 1963. Lead over wood and two batteries!?), 11


35'/4 x 3'/ 8 inches (30 x 89.5 x 8 cm). Kaiser Wilhelm
Krefeld,

Germany.

85. Untitled, 1964. Lead over wood and steel spring, 9


2

Museum,

inches (22.9 x 68.6

27

5.7 cm). Collection Dr. and Mrs. Marvin

H. Grody, Philadelphia.

LEADS 199

86 Memoria (For Alan Buchsbaum), 1987. Lead over wood,


with silver leal, acids, graphite, and lacquer,
1

New

aoo

it'H

niches (193
i

166 4

76

6b

3.8 cm). Courtesy Leo Castelli Gallery,

87. Malice/Doubt, 1989. Lead on wood, 91


(231.1

New

185.4

73

6 inches

15.2 cm). Courtesy Leo Castelli Gallery,

York.

LEAD

a 111

HEARING, 1972

Unlike a cnal, which

designed to produce a

is

a defendant, a hearing

purports only to otter

Morr

and

memory

Congressional hearings that,


devastating and

final

in

the early 1950s, sat in

Mapping

of representation: those

acquisition,

(its

status as

its

ot stable

objects (presymbolic phases of infantile recognition,

presentation, or immediate intuition, as opposed to

judgment on the ideological

convictions of Americans

ot art.

without overtly

circles,

knowledge); those related to the perception

those

ot

Witness

embracing, various theories


concerning language

auditory reception by an audience and. in die

its

second, to the strong cultural

and works

card-tile entries to cardiographs

investigator, the

and

instance, to an investigation carried out b) voices

to the

hearing ranges from tapes

in the

In response to interpretations advanced by the

of

title

refers, in flu first

Evidence

\\ itness

The

preliminary exploration of information.

them

positions and attempting to attribute

final

determination regarding claims brought against

political ideology,

representation

the apprehension

of Morris's

expressed in references to the extension of the

Minimalist plywood pieces

Vietnam War

prerepresentational objects that exceed notions of

into

Cambodia, onto the

aesthetii

battles of the Minimalist generation, Hearing realizes

i.iIU r\

New

platform six-inches high.

discussion, recorded on

York,

ol a

dona]

fii

The

mounted

composite

the

ot

entral

harai tcr

hinted

around the work warned

rs

sand-filled trough ele< trifled the lead-< ov<

zim table, whili an immersion heater


within

haii

physii al threat

dynamii

tra

groui

he

ritii

'

ing ol th<

partii ipants in

filmmaker

Km

from

Norma

In

loll is

ice

of ai

and

tress

tot

I"

In the
is

all<

HI

out

ol this

>ll|

fii

tional h( aring, thi

supported by the quotation

is

propositions advanced by writers

ran

(
t

fa

Marquez,

laude

art

materialized

both
it

in

at

narrativi

and

tin

itness
""is.

ultural
Ull

Id in

the site of inquisition,

usatory-

relations ot

the obje<

admittedly complicit in

ts

its

power and

brutality,

on the platform

quoting

and

sell

ol "authorities" to

is

has recentlj remarked that

when

lit.

evidence, on
i<

he-

read

Text, Ideology
he
W.J. T. Mitchell's
was reminded of the overriding concerns of Hearing,

inn

and

<ii

and Ludwig Wittgenstein Prom

outset, the piect deploys the notion of authority in

w.ns that

ly,

tin

named

that involve

turgid yet playful

homsky, Marcel Due ham p. Michel

i.ihni

Strauss. Jean Piage

tin

mti rposition

struggle between

the his torj

the basis ol whii h

OK

voii

d upon to addn

from

It

(th<

of

ol

them

ulture, that

mi long ago bj

words and images,

of

<

\<

foi

dominance within

n figured opposition

Leonardo as the paragom

'

whii h qualil
I

an Investigator

oui auli

ii.

Fin land the persistent inquiries, couched in

the Witi

Noam

such as

and

an insinuating, seemingl) sincen desin to grasp

a<

language that

Mm

writ(

commentaries

of objet ts

structun and support us arguments.

interrupted In

ntlj

of

the

Frampton and

was inn rmitti

use

and the implii

hi at

hi

<

attempts to defend his OW n beleaguered

OR lustration

tin

was augmented by the

\\ itness

Stephen

upper

boiling point.

which consisted of the philosophical!)

k,

intelli
ol

<

to the observable world).

the

on and self-defense overlaid on

ol ini
I

in the

to th<

it

in a

d bed and

r<

formal relationships that

the

us surface); and empiric ism (limiting

of!

and paraphrase

hair on

.ill battt ries buri<

intention prior to

artistic

series of slutting, episodic

the

at,

listeners

against tone hing th< bed, table, and

the platform, tor six w<

an

position, the Witness des< ribes Ins enterprise in a

figure finally remains obsc urc


ns placed

mi aning

In his

And wink

is

approaching these

of

mteniionality (securing meaning

of

through privileging
can be read

shifting, impa< ted

instead tor a montagelike framework.

ways

rejects certain

among them:

an object In waj

tor

a wildly negotiable archive,

us creation); formalism (interpreting an object or text

long tape, abandoned conventional narrative, opting

Witness

tliree-and-onc -haltdiour-

is

objects,

iform tableau

ru<

that consisted ot OUtsized metal furniture

on

in

a power-encoded configuration. In clue course, the

issued from
i

which

voices.

were saturated with the recorded dialogui

speakers near a central!) positioned

history,

many

in

investigation. This episodii

considered

Hearing

the duration ot the piece's initial installation,

the rooms of the Leo Castclli

and those involving

"reduction");

system

as multiple, diffuse, a concatenation of


-

alluded to in relation to

belief

performance the idea of a personal

in

is

al

w
t

in.

\l
i

88. Hearing. 1972. Three-and-one-half-hour stereo tape, stereo


tape recorder, amplifier, two speakers; copper chair with

water and immersion heater, 48

76.2 cm); zinc table, 36

78

91.4 cm); lead-covered bed, 24

24

72

25.4 cm); and wet-cell batteries buried


trough; on

30 inches (121.9

36 inches (91.4

198

10 inches (61
in

sand

wood platform 6 inches (15.2 cm)

in a

high,

61

182.9

x
x

bronze

12 feet

cm) square sections cut from


Museum of Art. Williamstown. Mass.

(3.66 m) square, with 24 inch- (61

each corner. Williams College

ME A

HI

Mi 803

Hearitu'.

BO

Hearing,

detail.

too

MESH PIECES, 1966-68

Mesh, which Morns began

to utilize in 1966,

introduced several qualities CO his work,

among them,

surfaces that were transparent and teflective, and

shapes that were


character.

an emphatically provisional

of

These new elements were calculated

counteract a simplistic interpretation

to

Minimalism

of

that was developing in the critical literature. That

which understood

interpretation

kind
real

Morris's notion

an absolute shape,

stalt as referring to

perception

was challenged by

and apart from

of Platonic solid existing prior to

new

this

insubstantialicy and transparency (also apparent in

the artist's concurrent use

once massive and

at

obsmu

permeable, seem both to

Paradoxically,

ot fiberglass).

complex polyhedrons,

these

the

iewet physically

while allowing passage visually.

Eva Hesse, Tori, 1969. Fiberglass on wire mesh, nine

30

to

47

12'/ 2 to 17

31.8 to 43.2
Art,

28.6

to

units,

11 h, to 15 inches (76.2 to 119.4 x

38.1 cm). Philadelphia

Museum

of

Purchased with funds contributed by Mr. and Mrs. Leonard

Korman, Mr. and Mrs. Keith Sachs, Marion Boulton Stroud,

no 89)was

(Quarter-Round A

titled

fabricated in steel and possesses a black semipolished


surface,

wink

made

aluminum, has

of

ntitled (Slung

wi re designed by the artist

and Donald Lippincott

Mr. and Mrs. Bayard T. Storey, and various funds.

The

Mesh)

and fabricated

at

its

enter,

Ring uith

Donut

Squart

Eva

in

(19<

As Morns later explained

I)

sculpture entitled

Tori

madi

l\

nun

part

win mesh oven d

[1969], in

form

b) fibi rglass), a toroid

works.

nti red

no 68) and

(who subsei|Ucni

lesse

igbt

square-

is

and thus formally

related to the whole series of opt n


sin h as

Both

bj Alfred

their factor) in( Connecticut.

at

toronl Quarter-Round Mi

bottomed, empt)

L968, no. 90),

a bright siKc rj sheen.

"a surfat e or solid

is

generati d bj the revolution of a circle or other conit


SI

ion aboiii an) axis


is

twelve

fool

low

massive (thret b) iwi

slab,

1\ in.!'

It

assi

is

aluminum mesh placed


units
objet

opt

hi

in less ol

top

tin

mbled from
together

ol

lv<

whu

bj

h forms a

six pie< es of

two rows

in

of three

the mesh, whit h n nd<

the

rs

"transparent," rejects th< illusionism ol Mirrored

nul introdui

new rangi

nplex and sin inn:' relationships between the object's


interioi

and

ranspareni

exterior, betwi

the shifting densities

ol thi

mesh planes

and

as the viewt

shifts his or her position relativi to th< work

Moreover, the sheen and criss-cross patterning of the

mesh
i

In

lerve to prevent the eyi

rl

wholi woi

k, disi

ii

ii

in Hii,

the hypnotit rippling


ili<

diffi

A
also

i,

n in plain
l.

in. uli

in

high brack*

.-

hi.

,1

ni

win

s
I

ol th<

SS

In

from gras]

viewer both with

and

loSUn

mesh's

.n\^\

diamond

thi

with
wt ave as

overl

from 1969

aluminum m

'

<

bannels (no
ists ol

liaped units arranged in

ten

two

fivi

evenl)

foot

89. Untitled (Quarter-Round Mesh), 1966. Steel mesh.


31

109

109 inches (78.7

276.9

Guggenheim Museum, New York, Panza

276.9 cm) Solomon

R.

Collection.

207

1MIN

90. Untitled (Slung Mesh), 1968. Aluminum mesh,

3x12x12

feet (.91 x

3.66

six units,

3.66 m) overall. Museum Ludwig,

Cologne.

809

(I

spaced rows of
the tows.

The

five

with a pathway

left

open between

closed side of the "brackets" are

positioned back to back, and the open sides of


the units face outward.

The

contrast between the rigid

geometry of the path through the works elements


and the disorienting visual
material of which they are

shifts

made

to the kind of experience Morris

promoted by the
looks forward

would seek

in the

Labyrinths he built in the early 1970s (pp. 250-55).


Visual disorientation, the play of light, and the

use of metal in an open-work form relate Untit/td


(Floor Grid), designed by Morris in 1968 but

not fabricated until 1979 (no. 91), to the mesh pieces.

Once

again, Morris was interested in geometric

elements yielding, paradoxically, to quasiformlessness,


expressed here by the labyrinthine meander of the vast

spread of the work. Conceived in the year he wrote


"Anti Form," Floor Grid demonstrates Morris's sense
that certain strategies of art-making as found in

the work of Jackson Pollock (both the scale of the drip

paintings and their having been executed while on


the floor) could

combat the

simplistic interpretation

of Minimalism.

1.

Quarter-Round Mesh

is

being shown

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

in

in

the retrospective at the

two

versions: the

first, in

the

position the artist had originally intended, with the squared side up;

and the second, inverted, with the rounded side up,

as the

work had

been exhibited.
2

Morris, quoted in Lucy Lippard, Eva Hesse

(New York: New York

University Press, 1976), p. 156.


J.

Morris, "Anti Form," Artferum 6, no. 8 (April 1968), p. 35.

91. Untitled (Floor Grid), 1979 fabrication of 1968 plan.

Aluminum. 10

Solomon

R.

'

inches

25

feet x

22

feet (.27 x

7.62

6.71 m).

Guggenheim Museum, New York, Panza Collection

FELTS, 1967-83

92. Untitled (Stacked and Folded). 1967.

72

inches (182.9

'

182.9

Museum

variable. Williams College

Leo

Gift of

In\

ii

Fow<

'

and

Institute's Artists
hi

&

holars in Residi

with Les

Li

mi

Roj

Program,

ilorado

'

lati

summei

in thi

ompanii d
i>i< \

into

uli

-I

tin

I.

.in a

tu work,

i|um

tht

mum

.irnsis

ycd

building, wh<

who had
Ii

Ins .tin hi

and

tu

n.ii

At"

in In sir

i.i

was

It

nd Morri

-t

ii

moved

atti

si

1 1

on

whit

i.i

.iv

.hum

ii

Ii

ht

R tint

bei

ami

Wilhamstown, Mass.,

of Art.

work with

154

(pp

fi

hi

ofa

In

and

It

New

'

al

i.

1967 (pp
in

ironj

whii

mi ans

ol

mati

rial

to

d and

roll*

stai

ked

fell

pro\ isional qualit)

work since the permutation

Ins

s.nni

tin

waj oui

priori composition,

gan had both Mi mm.il isms

bi

hi

with regular,

It

bands

wink
ill,

material signaled

thi

Greenberg had called Minimalism's

had informed

pieces of earl)

mi

had

in

forms with whii

ni

from

mi

ideation

paradoxii

tin n wi ni "ii to

Ii

ni

had

em bled

and heaped, draped, tangled,

Piled

projectivi practici

.n

thai

floor, turnt

thi

h, hi

It

f<

simplit u\ ni shape .mil tin

at this timi

hildn n

with linn

only

had

pei imt nted with

all

strips cui bj

alom

Bet ause

ded

thej pi

rt

ted to suit his

ni iln

ind

and rags

ii

Imp

tht

in

area and

tin

he n
fell

196

nd

parai

si

other activities of tht Institutt


thai Morris,

ol

stipi

industrial

hung, and dropped,

Lit ht< nsti in,

Oldenburg, and Yvonni Rainer, arrived

n<

72

Castelli.

Bai k in \i u Ybrk, Morris continued to

attend the Asp. n

i"

rs

Felt pieces,

3.2 cm), overall dimensions

Ii

180
.is

Ii

83)

tin

-ii

that,

omi

gi

xtreme
trie

In

verj

<

ai

trj

haos

next group
ropi

l\

is

ol

pieces

tin

Ini ising sin its

uts produi

when suspended from hooks

wall, collapsed into wild tangles ol material.


variet) ol these rolled, folded,
felts

wen shown

at thi

Ybrk, in April L968, the

and wall

to flooi

Leo Castelli Gallery,

same month

thai Morris's

"Anti Form" essay was published in Artforum} There

form, with gravity, stress, balance, and the kinesthetic

he described the new tendency in sculpture:

sense,

Minimalism had

liked all that."" If

tried

to excise everything that constituted the fabric

Random piling,
to the

loose stacking, hanging, give

Chance

material.

is

passing form

accepted and indeterminacy

implied since replacing will result in another configuration.

is

a positive

assertion. It is

as a prescribed end.

it

the Felts

in turn, to

member

of Minimalism, this change

was revealed

attitude

new framework within which he

period, pervaded the

make

chose to

industrial construction, these phrases signal

took on entirely different associations by the

Felt

what Morris termed Jackson

his art.

time Morris began to examine issues of global warfare

Pollock's "recovery of process," which, he argued,

and catastrophe

"involved a profound re-thinking of the role of both

a View from a Corner of Orion (Night) (1980, no.

materials and tools in making.""

the light-absorbing properties of

As the

Felts

in

in a clear-sighted self-

consciousness that, reflected in his writings of the

Brushing against the grain of Minimalism's ethos of


a reconsideration of

began,

established himself, in large part, as

a founding

part of

the work's refusal to continue estheticizing form by dealing

with

and hence

question the logic behind Minimalism. For Morris,

who had

Disengagement with preconceived enduring forms and


orders for things

of Abstract Expressionism, then Process and anti-form


art

is

progressed, they

became characterized

Study for

in the late 1970s. In Second

101),

explored to

felt are

create a dense, claustrophobic environment.

by increasingly predetermined compositions. The


material

is

often arranged around single or multiple

Clement Greenberg, "Recentness of Sculpture,"

Museum
in

spanning rows, as in pieces dating from around

1973 (for example, no. 96), or folded around them, as


in the

pink and

labially

shaped House of the

with horizontal

catenary

Felts,

(no. 99),

and others with vertical

legs,

touch

The
Morris's

Vetti

(1983,

and related works. Morris also developed

no. 100)

down

to the

that sag

slits

ground

Ibid, p. 35.

Although the

composition

(nos. 94, 97). 5

want

is

to

artist,

Decembet

(New York: Dutton,


Sonnier,

Critical Anthology, ed.

1968), p. 210.

included in Eccentric Abstraction, his

While
Fells

included some of this work in Eccentric Abstraction, the

Bourgeois, Hesse. Sonnier, and Viner.

1966 exhibition she curated

7.

New

\brk, and analyzed the

8.

It

"''

vinyl-and-kapok sculptures of the early 1960s were

on these

artists,

who

work was not

and scatter pieces

clearly

lini

stated concerns. Artists included in the exhibition were

its

Phil Patton,

"The

Fire

Most

Next Time, Art News 82,

no. 10

(December

significant, at this point, are the exhibition 9 in a Warehouse,

which Morris curated

has been widely acknowledged that Oldenburg's soft

a formative influence

Gregory Battcock

Morris's

1983), p. 50.

new concern with

bodily qualities in her essay "Eros Presumptive.

because they

10, 1992.)

up with

Fischbach Gallery

is

photographs of them. (Conversation

Paul Thek, and Frank Lincoln Viner. Lucy Lippard

in

fixed shape or

Lucy Lippard, "Eros Presumptive," Hudson Review (spring 1967),

reprinted in Minimal Art:

Louise Bourgeois, Eva

at the

work against any

given piece, generally speaking, collectors have-

their Fells to look like the

6.

Nauman, Keith

logic o( the Felts

(or a

original organization. Morris has suggested that this

with the

Hesse, Yayoi Kusama, Bruce

Artforum 6, no. 8 (April 1968), pp. 33-35.

not taken advantage of this open-endedness, preferring to maintain the

limp

was being explored by other

among them

County

4. Ibid., p. 34.

erotic quality that increasingly characterized

artists as well,

"Ann Form,"

Morris,

3.

work with

felt

American Sculpture

of Art, 1967), p. 25.

2.

5.

downward

slits that, like

in

of the Sixties, exhibition catalogue (Los Angeles: Los Angeles

hanging points on the wall, either draped over them

at the

Leo Castelli Warehouse

1969, and "Anti Form," "Notes on


[Artforum '

ulpture, Part

in

t:

New York

Sear< h lor the Motivati d" {Artforum 8,

no. 8 [April 1970], pp. 62-66), significant ess

break with what they perceived as Minimalism's

in

Beyond Objects"

no 8 [April 1969], pp. 50-54), and "Some Notes on the

Phenomenology of Making: The

sought to

Si

published

between 1968 and 1970.

increasing rigidity.

The

sensuous, painterly, and multiplicitous Felts

are thus radically different

from the sharp-edged

Minimalist works of gray-painted plywood, signaling

new openness toward the process of making,


and formal disposition. More broadly, they
must also be seen as part of a larger transformation

gravity,

Following two pages:


93. Untitled (Tangle), 1967.

dimensions variable. Collection

Felt.

inch (2.5

Phil Patton,

Morns, explaining

remarked that
it

"felt

relates to the

his choice of

medium,

has anatomical associations;

body

it's

skinlike.

The way

it

takes

94. Untitled (Six Legs), 1969.

6 feet

'/j

inch x

The Museum

of

inch (4.59

Modern

Art,

New

cm)

thick, overall

Johnson.

Philip

within artistic discourse. In a 1983 interview with


Felt,

1.84

15 feet
rn x

inch x

2.5 cm) overall.

York, Gilman Foundation Fund.

FELTS

-i

:i

95 Untitled (Teepee). 1970


24

leet x

8 inches

'

Felt,

inch (7.32

seven

.20

strips,

each
cm), overall

dimensions variable. Collection Barbara Jakobson, New York.

ii

96. Untitled (Shoulder), 1973.

6.10

x .91

Felt,

20

3 feet (2.74

m) overall. Collection Sylvio Perlstein, Antwerp.

i.

97

Untitled (Inverted Shoulder)

grommets, 9
6 feet 2'

leet 3 inches x 14 leet

inches 12 82

4.56

IIS

Felt

and metal

inches

1.90 m) overall.

Boymansvan Beuningen, Rotterdam.

i.

1978.

Museum

'

98

Untitled (Butterfly), 1980. Felt and metal grommets,

9 feet

20

feet x 4 feet 6 inches (2.74 x

Courtesy Leo Castelli Gallery,

New

6.10

1.37 m) overall.

York.

FELT-

99 Untitled (Catenary)

Following three pages:


100. House ol the Vetti
\Q x

101

Second Study

for a

View from

243.8

Corner

of

Orion

(Night!
'5 x

gliO

4.88 m)

overall.

i^^^^BfH^^H

/I

STEAM, 1967

The

effe<

even more

is

\\

intangible and physically tentative than the process-

works made

related

made on

tin.

in

ran Gallery ol Art in

or the ever-shifting mirrored cubes and mazes. Steam,

drawn from the

underground supply, driven

city's

through pipes, and

in a large

rock bed, offered

As one
or

some twenty

air

made by

the artist, with

for

feet up.

works ever conceived

of the least objectlike

indefinite sense of

its

physicality and permanence. Steam has on occasion

been interpreted as Conceptual

although

art,

be carefully distinguished from the

and Mirrored Cubes

no. 26)

witi

and

no. 66)

the compan)

in

should

it

Together

latter.

ot

arl

1965,

Andres 120

bricks to be arranged (1966); Mel Boi liners facsimile

quotations on negative photostats tor the exhibition

Monuments (1967); Yves


smoke,

fire,

"empty gallery" ami

Klein's

and water sculptures

Kosuths negative photostat

tionary definitions

d\i

Sol LeWitt's buried

(196

Ins

1958); Joseph

<

i Steam

cub

red by John Chandler and Lucy Lippard


as an

example

what they termed "Dematerialized

of

Art

to their

produi

art as

toward

t"

one might expe<

tied, as

imp

si

hema,

t.

to the

on

Mm una

art

.i

from

it

inextril ably

readymade and

its

refusal to be read as

contrast

and

it

significant issn

nd w here

Ived iisclt out ot the pi

us. ha

fii

hut insofat as Steam insists on the physi<


materials and

thi

ion into the ideational

an And
to the

insofar as tin

working through
ted in

iIk

I'Ik

ipi

Minimal'

us sin
fit

Id ol

<

ol

ideas on

on<

fai

<

onnei

t<

than

it<

on

thai us

own

understood

iinisi In

"in of, ratln

ptual

as

Somi Ni
thi

us

n sists

Minimalism

'

in. mil' si

alit) ol

finall)

ii

work must be seen

'noun n
ii.i.li

to

m's

where the formerly

was

heir readii

nonphysii ality and, therefore,

produi

sin

tin

art as idea

repudiation

of,

at

ashingtoo,

\\

in

1967 (where

lnlcrihitinn.il \2,

ii

the Morris retrospective at the

Washington, D.C.,

ol the

in

1969; and

present retrospective

at

the

in the

Solomon R

Virk.

no 2 (February 1968), reprinted

cloud seeping from the ground, billowing skyward,

and dissipating into the

in

197 n,

\\

John Chandler and Lucj Lippard, Tin Dematerialization

Art

Morns
an extremely antisculptural medium. The experii
ot the work is simply that ot a hot, white, amorphous
openings

pan

Guggenheim Museum

aboveground through

filtered

sculpture garden, as

Western

Hcllingham.

was [srrmancntly installed

threadwaste, and earth,

of felt,

has been

ashington University

ork

in

ot Art.

Lippard.

Dutton, 197

),

[bid

Morris

Some Notes on

the Motivated,"

An

the

Phenomenology

ol

Making: The Search

>rill970),p|

fr^,

102. Steam, 1974 refabrication


multiple

steam outlets under

overall dimensions variable.

of a

bed

1967

original.

Steam,

of stones, outlined with

wood,

Western Washington University.

Bellingham.

STEAM 225

THREADWASTE,

1968

tubing, and chunks

From within the mass

asphalt.

oi

of this material, which comprises

number

tadwaste, rise a

bulk of

the-

rectangular double-sided

of

mirrors, that, in their reflections, produce an uncanny


replication ol the scatter pieces horizontal sprawl

Such

positioning

mirrors

oi

the "landscape

in

both Robert Smithson's Mirror Displacements

and

installed in the Yucatan,

first

Art, an exhibition at the

Art,

in

Earth Art, but because he was unable

accend

ornell

person, he "telephoned instructions co the

in

for che execution ol Ins puce,

diagram of che gallery assigned


into a one-toot ^rul."

oil

museum

gave the

gallery

compose

co

isitt

should be

it

and where in the

pla< ed.

Sculpture, Pari

had begun

yond

B<

[:

argue

to

tor che im]

anthropomorphism

oi

addressed the

Minimalism

abstrai

held

isu.il

or

art," in

its<

rom

"landscape modi

figurative

hroughoui tins

seems to be describing his own

whn

h was

(no

10

mounted

in his

and exhibit! d

ii

bases

'ir.il

to

'

oi

studio Ian

mode

"conditions

in

Modernist

ol a

differentiated

hren/we

ie.

"scanning, syncretistic, or
reared bj che "purposeful

<

readings in terms oi

holistii

bound tonus" constituted,

Morris,

foi

new

aesthetii exp< tieno

ol

In

lli < ralli rj

Objects,"

id

sp<

ifii

ii

i"'i

.ii
I

isti

in

'

paralli

u>

ii

so imi. h

Morri

wroi

.i

York

che visual field

oi

borrowed from Anton

he-

oi

ntiated" vision

ii

Morri

[.

1968

in

the

i^

no 8

iIh

the

ai

-i

Threadwaste),

de-diffi

Morns

essay,

breadu

at

buc, inscead, a "d<

vision," a term

gescali
[sit

was not the diaphanous mirage

detachmem from

ondition

"i

II

experiencing

rhis concept

Tins,

to Process, or anti -form, art.

ol

hi

had already begun awaj from

slnli ili.u

he explained, meant taking on the


the

body,

oi

know (edged in the- term


"Earch Art") Whai Morris wanted from tins new way
horizoncalit) soon co be

"opticalicj

us comparison

elii

own

the perceiver s

ol

modedest ribed by
Pan
emphasizes

ulpture,

S<

(a

itsell

any coherent object, the unitj

how

-no mattet

whii h

with the unity

thinking

oi

he inevitabl(

'

ol

appeared, Morns

)bjei ts"

<

"Notes on

"Notes on

predominate horizontalitj

tin

then

he-

size

anthracite, earth, asbestos

tht piece

Significantly, che landscape


in

map,

nous about che

Carl Andre, Spill (Scatter Piece), 1966. Plastic blocks and

Moms

asking that

him be marked

co

this as a

si iii

stafl instrut

che piles oi material

ol

le

Earth

in

Andrew Dickson White


Morns was also
niversit)

oi

his influential arch

Salt

.../

included
co

By 1969, when

Museum

Museum

canvas bag, dimensions variable. Collection John Powers.

his

which was included

Trails 1969),

\iirrm

\\:>.\

recalls

1.

is

CO

.i

m<

(ibid

Donald Judd's

taphi
I)

Sp

ssa)

if

ipleti

Carl Andres Spill

Prel
(

1966) and Bai ry


Morris's

his usi oi

iii.

>

ii

Va

and

glass

(Scatt,

hi

fi

Ii

and

l)

his inten

in

;i

ol

ulpcural

transformin

form
and,

to

to perci ptual

finall)

field,

II'

from

Nova

iljfai

Fii

ol

Is

yond

writes

rhi

ruff

ing

pai

foi

tii

ulai

I-

Part

.i

ol plastii

\i

anvni

I..U-

in

New

strands

J lfl

olon d thn ad thai

ol
.i

is

.i.

its

oloi

Ided misi ellam ous

is

fell
i

varii gati

Li..

indi finabli

ppc

Morris, quoted in
(

'i

..in.

II

Moi

'..I
I.

mi. civ

ih

ied oui ol

ulptun

I'.
.

in

.il

ompo

Mai

li

ic (Ii hai a

libii

s.

mpi

..

ion

ii.

-ii

ks

I'll.,

York, while in Lo

Part 4,"

che
rh

mcains so manj

olli

which have no central contained focus nd extend

\i.
I

peripheral vision ofler a kind of landscape modi as

objcci

methods of produi
rhn adwa

industriallj usi d as lubrii

Scotia

mta

perception

tural qui scioi

fell

icgrou th ol both

breadwastt
id

i
i

19'

"i

into

103. Untitled (Tangle), 1967.

Felt,

264 pieces,

inch

(1.3 cm) thick, overall dimensions variable. National Gallery of

Canada, Ottawa.
following two pages: 104. Untitled (Threadwaste). 1968.

Threadwaste, asphalt, mirrors, copper tubing, and


dimensions variable. The Museum
Gift of Philip

of

Modern

Art,

felt,

New

overall

York,

Johnson.

THREAP.'

2 2 7

DIRT, 1968

Dwan

As pare of the

New

Gallery's Earth Sbou in

York

Other works

in tin-

exhibition included Walter de Maria

,m installation hrst

October 1968, Morns installed Vntiti


(1968, no. 106), a 2,000-pound pile of earth (winch
in

Munich
in

(it

shown

now permanently

is

New York

as

at

the Heiner-Friedrich Gallery in

installed b) the
\!

HI A
hat

sprouted a plant during the show), intermixed

with industrial

aluminum,

brass,

various metals

of

grease, peat moss, brick, and loose

felt,

and scraps

strips

and

^inc.

Morris's desire to

earth as a material was prefigured

in a

work the

rris,
i

Model 1966,

The

smoothK fashioned

consisted ot a

piece was to have

mound,

ringlike

and Threadwastt (1968,

no. HI

Such works as Dirt

art.

that
2

compromise their intrinsii physical properties.


That Dirt went "beyond obje< ts," as Morns wrote
awaj from the objecthood thai

shift

Ins formative years in

did not signal a disavowal

and other artists o]


nhworks, began

monumental
projei

ts,

both

pi

ials; tools,

ni an.

ephemeral, was

i.

Hun

hi

Indi

gone is anj sensi


is no working ol
hovel and

in

a n

Mob
ol a

iid

distal

anothei version of Di\

ij

oi

th mal

honi
I

cra< tor,

pennon

ring

work by bng

in

Ii

I'"

to

be shown

hav<

Laszl6

inj

9 M

phon

onstruction to thi mus< urn


it

oi

a nearlj olisession.il sell

work

mi ludii

handwork.

The

hara< terized their various

final
ii

then-emergent idiom

work outdoors

Morns ontinued
Mi'

.>

th articulation of a new kind


and syntax

to

in Dirt,

<

rmani

aesthi

nth
to

ale thai

sc

Minimalism,

strongly held

ndoned, w hen Morns,

ot his

Indeed, size limitations on

ern with process

Heiier,

Mortis

nlour

<

Ii

traced

'*

,s

Beyond Object

kt

Rk

urated by

wh

earthworks

ban

wen de

nnis

Maria, Jan Dibbers,

Oppenheim, Smithson,

Notes on Art as/and Land Reclamation," Oetthr, no 12


|

87-102.

Thomas

Whin Museum

Morns
articulated in his essay "Anti Form." The materials
ot whi< h Dirt was made did not aggregate into
a new form, an indication ot a refusal by the artist to

artists creating

(sprin

anti-aesthetic concerns that had led to the earlier

had underpinned

Sei

emerged from the

ems

rs (

a in.

Apnl 1969), pp. 50-54.

Among the
ans Haw ki

ion oi Ohrt
i)

icample, nos

on Sculpture, Pan

and Giinther Ue<

and, therefore, unlike Dirt, retains a formal continuity


with his well-built object-type

\i K

Anti Form," Artforum 6, no 8 (April 1968), pp

Mori
-

Airport that was never realized.

in l-'ranklin,

enter lor the Arts

DallasFort Worth

no. 105), a projected design for the

topographic map. and Robert Smithson

an aerial photograph of mines

copper,

steel,

Heizer's

ol

l.i.i\ iti

Art

in

I'

was shown
<

orn<

II

in

the exhibition

University

Andrew

arti

)i<

Art,
k son

105. Model, 1967 edition


for Dallas-Fort
1

inches (50.8

Worth
x

61

of a

Airport).

1966
1967

original (unrealized design

version: acrylic.

20

24

2.5 cm). 1966 version: plaster.

following two pages: 106. Untitled (Dirt), 1968. Earth,


grease, peat moss, brick, steel, copper, aluminum, brass, zinc,

and

felt,

overall

dimensions variable.

DIRT 23

CONTINUOUS PROJECT ALTERED DAILY,

Morris's Continuous Project Altered Daily

hovers between several states

L969, no.

sculptural project, part performance

and their

without coming

March 1-22. 1969, Morns went to


Warehouse on West lOSth Street, in

enough

project's duration,

the Leo Castelh

few years before

among them

cotton, water, grease, plastic,

muslin, electric

earth, clay, asbestos.

platforms, naked light bulbs, and amorphous piles

of dirt and

echoed with the sounds

clay,

The activities performed

Morns

bj

emphasis on

relate to the

that

da)

Continuous Pro/at in

oj the

Dumped out 2000 pounds


onto floor. \o idea what to

throwing

aimlessly

it

u.

oj

wet clay our

be

dom

with

oj

At other times he

al (ev<

thin

Morns

wrote-

Mai

Phero

ned by
ol

pla< ing

mo

an

maj

great deal

rpretivi

omething

..I

Taking as

itii

K (Ik end ot

um<

doi

ai

h da)

hi

re-an

)i

m:

ui

ihing tin

Mi- hai III

'in

Do.,

I.

sal
replai

ment
I.

chat

83 4

rt

.i

in

ui tin
ol

it

worl

ph

i.i

ii

ommi no d

work

st Ii

to Lucj

and

with

hod

.>

1'

I. ii

processes in

cht

laboi ol

al

matt

chi

rial

lemt ms.

willingness

inn

foi

his activities in the

graphii

cransitivi

ful

coward
i

kind

ol

"

played

.1

and mutability,

tt

chi

It

is

ol

also

cerms Morris applied

warehoust an similar to

us

al

it

fusal to di

own

ordi d Ins

photograph

si

vi

co
th<

list

ot

ulptun

\<

last
a

ol

Morris's

lop in a linear fashion

composition chat che

Indeed, on che

chi

ing Ins

most important aspects

In

a final

ompli
capi

\m in mi i"

is

ol

confusion even in the servict

rform

)in

pan

verbs madi bj Richard Serra to describe the

'i

all

"an activit) ol disorientation

new perceptual modi

ing

worth noting chat

in

is

dragging,

lifting,

were

rials

slntt. ui violent discontinuitj


Ik

ntl)

ippard that

pe< uliai

chat art itsell

worl

photograph has

physii

cht

M ti.ui. shoveling, hanging,

u.

'

pur|

>

"i In

inn' tion as

ii

seen that

bi

nd disat ranging

i"n "i Ins

'

maj

it

Marcel

ol

age, or bj the repetitive stripes

<

Ins

.lis,

Heizei had sited

that

maj be systematized

art

and draping mate

ui

tin

Stella),

and

"i tins pi
in' ni.ii

'69), a pieci

mi

Project Alti

photographs,

|>ui| os(

anvas,

departure this and other

a point ol

how

piling,

hanging

pist outsidi

.it

adding and subtracting from che amalgamated

I"

in all, wi

vail,
I

niuousK

Prank

whit h Morris

verj

of the- historj of

phed Continuous

.1

the

tails

regularized or "systematic"

ot

example, b) the programmed chanct

building, rather than solely on formal results.


irder to in

Is

Duchamp and John

mphasis on m< chods

up rums

interaction with the two-dimensional surfaces ol

Somi Notes on the

L970 in

iii

in.-

out

Tins image perhaps

mov< ments above

n dancelike)

with earlier mode

deliberate marks, forms, or

it

issadlj disappointed to discover

elsewhere

to

example, when he 'took wet lumps

with wet broom and hot smoothi d

is

the child described by

of

The notion of recording .u^ unsystematic path


mind Jackson Pollock's break, through Ins

painting

rubbed on squan on wall about

[of clay] aiul

aiul

form

working

ol

project. Indeed, in Morris's account there

its soeil is c-\c-r

physii

50 lb cans

around.

made

it

IK also

his relict at seeing the occasional

investigations ol

struc tures, as, tor

calls

shit, et<

reverse ex< avation, building

Began

it.

and

."

moving

verj

"a

ways chat were

tt.

nth

<

helps to understand Morris's reference to his piece as

"experimental, exploratory, non-direc ted":

First

ol dissatisfac turn .\nA

emerge during the process

to find its 'soul,'

coj

current in his writing. Sometimes he worked randomly,


playfully, using the matt rial in

times,

at

Charles Baudelaire, who. after deftlj breaking open his

and making then

particlelike substances, process,

work of the bowels,

acknowledges

rentiated

difft

mostlj

he des< ribed his feelings

something reminiscent

with their overt reference to building, moving,

and forming,

Morns

Daily relates to "viscera, muscles,

on the

building,

of

which

discomfort but also,

or structure

the space,

in

information and not

continuous written record of his

activities, in

"a

with barrels, shovels, wooden

site replete

much

primal energies, afterbirth, feces

through Saturday, the warehouse, which resembh


construction

maintained

of

One of the

clear or transparent.

to give too

is

same time."

at the

Projei

)pen to the public every afternoon from Tuesday

the signifier-signified relation

all

revulsion. In this journal he explains that

threadwaste,

felt,

and recorded sound.

lights,

not at

is

addition to photographic documentation.

In

New York, where he worked with a range of materials


much greater than would have been likely even
a

up

set

strange relation between their reality

is

artificiality,

things they do

any one of them. Each day during the

to rest in

There

sign.

part exhibition, part

1969

daj

imp

ol

artist

ol cht

deems

installation he

che space, cht n

recording b.u k as he made-

he

last

an magi ofalonetapi recorder,


i

it!

dangling

arrangement

in front of the

following two pages: 107. Continuous Project Altered Daily

of earlier

1969

photographs visible on the back wall. As in Box with


the

Own Making

Sound of Its

(1961, no.

11),

we

presented simultaneously with the space and with the

sound of

its

(six states). Earth, clay,

plastic, felt,

are

asbestos, cotton, water, grease,

wood, threadwaste,

electric lights,

tape recorder, dimensions variable. Installation

photographs, and
at the

Leo

Castelli

Warehouse, New York, March 1-22, 1969.

ordering.

Like the scatter piece Threadwaste

1968, no. 104),

Continuous Project Altered Daily was predicated on


ideas of randomness and entropy, expressed as material
in a seemingly

the

floor.

The

uncomposed

state spread laterally over

materials remained infinitely

rearrangeable and thus within Morris's trajectory

The

of anti-illusionism.

project succeeded both in

extending the nonrelational compositions of

Minimalism, and

in furthering the investigation of

materials begun in the anti-form Threadwaste and Dirt

(1968, no. 106). Through


or uncalculated,

its

processes of random,

change and through

its

exploration of

the properties of loose, soft, and nonart materials


that allow no object (let alone a "specific object
dictate formal closure, the
artistic discourse

")

to

work subverts conventional

about composition, iconicity,

and system.
1.

Excerpt from the unpublished journal

Morns kept while making

Continuous Project Altered Daily.


2. Ibid.
3.

Morris cites George Kubler's examination of Machu Picchu in The

Shape of Time: Remarks on

the History

of Things

(New Haven: Yale

University Press, 1962) as an example of this kind of analysis. See


Mottis,

"Some Notes on the Phenomenology of Making: The Search

fot

the Motivated," Artforum 8, no. 8 (April 19 7 0), pp. 62-66.


4.

Morris, quoted in Lucy Lippard, "Robert Mottis," in Six Years: The

Demalertalization of the Art Object


5.

At one point

in his |ournal,

(New Yotk:

Praeger, 1973), p. 257.

Morris speaks of his anxiety and

frustration about having described his feelings to anothet person, "as

though

[I]

had revealed

my methods

of masturbation." Elsewhere,

regarding the spread pile of clay and dirt, he observes his

own

("for the brute dirt"), that "perhaps the fecal quality of the

mud

revolt [him]

"bumpy,

mote than

[he] admit[s]."

He

also

shitty, compositional decotative elements"

nausea

lumps of

mentions

emerging when he

pours latex over one of the platforms covered with material (Morris,

unpublished journal, Continuous

Project Altered Dai/)

I.

6. Ibid.

7
.

Morris, "Notes on Sculpture, Part

Beyond

)b|ci r.

Ari/on/m ~

no. 8 (April 1969), p. 54.


8.

See Gregoire Muller, The

Seventies

(New

New Avant-Gardt:

York: Praeger, 1972),

Issues for the

Art of the

p. 94. Serra's list of transitive verbs

includes: "to roll, to crease, to fold, to stote, to bend, to tear, to chip,


to splinter, to

matk, to systematize."

CONTINUOUS PROJECT ALTERED DAILY 833

r,

CONTINUOUS PROJECT ALTERED DAILY 237

OBSERVATORY, 1971-77

Morns began

In 1965.

making an outdoor

to think of

a structure, influenced

"observatory,

by Stonehenge,

whose purpose would be to track solar phenomena


the winter and summer solstices ami the tall and
spring equinoxes. Several drawings or this and related
chamber projects da