Gordon Matta-Clark

- Biography

A central figure of the downtown New York art scene in the 1970s, Gordon Matta-Clark (1943-1978) pioneered a radical approach to art making that directly engaged the urban environment and the communities within it. Through his many projects—including large-scale architectural interventions in which he physically cut through buildings slated for demolition—Matta-Clark developed a singular and prodigious oeuvre that critically examined the structures of the built environment. With actions and experimentations across a wide range of media, his work transcended the genres of performance, conceptual, process, and land art, making him one of the most innovative and influential artists of his generation. As Roberta Smith notes, Matta-Clark “used his skills to reshape and transform architecture into an art of structural explication and spatial revelation.”1

In 1985, the first museum retrospective of Matta-Clark's work was presented at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, and traveled until 1989 to over a dozen institutions internationally, including the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Kunsthalle Basel; Le Nouveau Musée, Villeurbanne, France; Brooklyn Museum; and the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal. In 1997, the Generali Foundation, Vienna, prepared the first comprehensive overview dedicated to the artist's drawing practice, consisting of over six hundred works on paper. It toured through 2000 to the Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona; Institute for Art and Urban Resources at P.S.1, Long Island City, New York; and the Westfälisches Landesmuseum für Kunst und Kulturgeschichte, Münster, Germany. 

In 2007, Gordon Matta-Clark: You Are the Measure was the first full-scale retrospective organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, which traveled to the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. From 2009 to 2010, Gordon Matta-Clark: Undoing Spaces—the first major survey of his work in South America—toured to the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Santiago; Museu de Arte Moderna, São Paulo; Paco Imperial, Rio de Janeiro; and Museo de Arte de Lima. Recent institutional exhibitions were held at Museu Serralves, Porto, Portugal (2017), and The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo (2018), which marked the first full-scale retrospective of the artist’s work in Asia (titled Gordon Matta-Clark: Mutations in Space). In 2017-2020, Matta-Clark’s work was the focus of a critically acclaimed traveling exhibition, Gordon Matta-Clark: Anarchitect, that was on view at The Bronx Museum of the Arts, New York; Jeu de Paume, Paris; Kumu Art Museum, Tallinn, Estonia; and the Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts. Power Station of Art in Shanghai presented a solo exhibition of the artist’s work entitled Passing Through Architecture: The 10 Years of Gordon Matta-Clark in 2019-2020.

GORDON MATTA-CLARK: UNRAVEL THE UNFOUND is currently on view at the KØS Museum of Art in Public Spaces, Køge, Denmark, through September 20, 2020.

Matta-Clark’s work is represented in prominent public collections, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst Antwerpen, Antwerp; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. The Gordon Matta-Clark Archive is held at the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal, and includes the artist's personal correspondence, notebooks, drawings, photographs, slides, films, as well as other archival material documenting his life and work.

Since 1998, the Estate of Gordon Matta-Clark has been represented by David Zwirner. Previous solo exhibitions at the gallery in New York include Gordon Matta-Clark (1999), A W-Hole House and Selected Drawings (2002), Bingo (2004), Gordon Matta-Clark and Rirkrit Tiravanija (2007), Above and Below (2013), and Energy & Abstraction (2015). In 2011, 112 Greene Street: The Early Years (1970–1974) was presented at David Zwirner, New York, which united a group of works by Matta-Clark and others shown at 112 Greene Street in SoHo, one of New York's first alternative, artist-run venues. Organized by Jessamyn Fiore, an independent curator, writer, and co-director of the Estate of Gordon Matta-Clark with her mother Jane Crawford, the exhibition led to the critically acclaimed, eponymous catalogue, published in 2012 by David Zwirner and Radius Books. In 2018, Gordon Matta-Clark: Works 1970–1977 marked the artist’s seventh solo show with David Zwirner and his first at the gallery’s London location.

Roberta Smith, “Back in the Bronx: Gordon Matta-Clark, Rogue Sculptor,” The New York Times (January 11, 2018), accessed online.

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