Gordon Matta-Clark

Gordon Matta-Clark
Born June 22, 1943(1943-06-22)
Died August 27, 1978(1978-08-27) (aged 35)
Nationality American
Movement building cuts
Works 'Bingo'
Influenced Brian Jungen, Danny Devos

Gordon Matta-Clark (June 22, 1943[1] – August 27, 1978) was an American artist best known for his site-specific artworks he made in the 1970s. He is famous for his "building cuts," a series of works in abandoned buildings in which he variously removed sections of floors, ceilings, and walls.

Life and work

Both of Gordon Matta-Clark's parents were artists: the American Anne Clark and the Chilean Surrealist painter Roberto Matta, artist of Basque, French and Spanish descent.[2] His twin brother Sebastian was also an artist, who committed suicide in 1976.[3]

He studied architecture at Cornell University, but did not practice as a conventional architect; he worked on what he referred to as “Anarchitecture.” [4] At the time of Matta-Clark's tenure there, Cornell's architecture program was guided in part by Colin Rowe, a preeminent architectural theorist of modernism. His vision of modernism later influenced much of Matta-Clark's own work in its relation to modernist practice and theory. He also spent a year studying French literature at the Sorbonne in Paris and was in Paris during the student strikes of May 1968. It was in Paris that he became aware of the French deconstructionist philosophers and Guy Debord and the Situationists. These cultural and political radicals developed the concept of détournement, or "the reuse of pre-existing artistic elements in a new ensemble." Such concepts would later inform his work. He is most famous for works that radically altered existing structures. His "building cuts" (in which, for example, a house is cut in half vertically) alter the perception of the building and its surrounding environment.[4]

Matta-Clark used a number of media to document his work, including film, video, and photography. His work includes performance and recycling pieces, space and texture works, and his "building cuts."

Matta-Clark also used puns and other word games as a way to re-conceptualize preconditioned roles and relationships (of everything, from people to architecture). He demonstrates that the theory of entropy applies to language as well as to the physical world, and that language is not a neutral tool but a carrier for society's values and a vehicle for ideology.


In February, 1969, the "Earth Art" show, curated by Willoughby Sharp at the invitation of Tom Leavitt, was realized at Andrew Dickson White Museum of Art, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY. Matta-Clark, who lived in Ithaca at the time, was invited by Willoughby Sharp to help the artists in "Earth Art" with the on-site execution of their works for the exhibition. Sharp then encouraged Gordon Matta-Clark to move to New York City where Sharp continued to introduce him to members of the New York art world. Matta-Clark's work, Museum, at Klaus Kertess' Bykert Gallery, was listed and illustrated on pages 4–5 of Avalanche 1, Fall 1970.

In the early 1970s as part of the Anarchitecture group, Matta-Clark was interested in the idea of entropy, metamorphic gaps, and leftover/ambiguous space. Fake Estates was a project engaged with the issue of land ownership and the myth of the American dream - that everyone could become "landed gentry" by owning property. Matta-Clark "buys" into this dream by purchasing 15 leftover and unwanted properties in Manhattan for $25–$75 a plot. Ironically, these "estates" were unusable or inaccessible for development, and so his ability to capitalize on the land, and thus his ownership of them, existed virtually only on paper.

In 1971 Matta-Clark cofounded Food, in SoHo, New York, with Carol Goodden, a restaurant managed and staffed by artists. The restaurant turned dining into an event with an open kitchen and exotic ingredients that celebrated cooking. The activities at Food helped delineate how the art community defined itself in downtown Manhattan.[4] The first of its kind in SoHo, Food became well known among artists and was a central meeting-place for groups such as the Philip Glass Ensemble, Mabou Mines, and the dancers of Grand Union. He ran Food until 1973.[5]

In 1974, he performed a literal deconstruction, by removing the facade of a condemned house along the Love Canal, and moving the resulting walls to Artpark, in his work Bingo.[6][7]

For the Biennale de Paris in 1975, he made the piece titled Conical Intersect by cutting a large cone-shaped hole through two townhouses dating from the 17th century in the market district known as Les Halles which were to be knocked down in order to construct the then-controversial Centre Georges Pompidou.

For his final major project, Circus or The Caribbean Orange (1978), Matta-Clark made circle cuts in the walls and floors of a townhouse next-door to the first Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, building (237 East Ontario Street), thus altering the space entirely.[8][9] Following his 1978 project, the MCA presented two retrospectives of Matta-Clark’s work, in 1985 and in 2008.[10] The 2008 exhibition You Are the Measure included never-before-displayed archival material of his 1978 Chicago project. You Are the Measure traveled to the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.[11]

Matta-Clark died from pancreatic cancer on August 27, 1978.

The Gordon Matta-Clark Archives is housed at the Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montreal. The Estate of Gordon Matta-Clark is represented by David Zwirner, New York.


External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Gordon Matta-Clark — (vollständiger Familienname Gordon Roberto Echaurren Matta; * 22. Juni 1943 in New York; † 27. August 1978 in New York) war ein US amerikanischer Architekt und Konzeptkünstler, der sich auf die Gebiete der Intervention und Dekonstruktion… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Gordon Matta-Clark — (22 juin 1943 – 27 août 1978) est un artiste américain connu pour ses œuvres sur site spécifique réalisées dans les années 1970. Il est célèbre pour ses « coupes de bâtiment» une série de travaux dans des bâtiments abandonnés dans lesquels… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Gordon matta-clark — (22 juin 1943 – 27 août 1978) était un artiste américain connu pour ses œuvres sur site spécifique faites dans les années 1970. Il est célèbre pour ses « coupes de bâtiment» une série de travaux dans des bâtiments abandonnés dans lesquels il …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Gordon Matta-Clark — Este artículo o sección sobre biografías y arte necesita ser wikificado con un formato acorde a las convenciones de estilo. Por favor, edítalo para que las cumpla. Mientras tanto, no elimines este aviso puesto el 25 de abril de 2011. También… …   Wikipedia Español

  • Matta-Clark — Gordon Matta Clark Gordon Matta Clark (22 juin 1943 – 27 août 1978) était un artiste américain connu pour ses œuvres sur site spécifique faites dans les années 1970. Il est célèbre pour ses « coupes de bâtiment» une série de travaux dans des …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Matta — may refer to: Mata, a moshav in Israel also spelt Matta Matta a Union Council of Kasur District, Pakistan. Matta, a city in Swat, NWFP Pakistan, the main centre of TNSM Matta, a chief of Siwistan in the 7th century A.D. Matta, a genus of spiders… …   Wikipedia

  • Matta (desambiguación) — Matta puede referirse a: Roberto Matta Echaurren, artista chileno. Gordon Matta Clark. Manuel Antonio Matta Goyenechea, político chileno. Guillermo Matta Goyenechea, profesor, poeta y político chileno. Esta página de desambiguación cataloga… …   Wikipedia Español

  • Roberto Matta — Birth name Roberto Sebastián Antonio Matta Echaurren Born November 11, 1911(1911 11 11) Santiago Died November 23, 2002(2 …   Wikipedia

  • Roberto Matta — Skulptur Chaosmos (in der Skulpturensammlung Viersen) Roberto Antonio Sebastian Matta Echaurren (* 11. November 1911 in Santiago de Chile; † 23. November 2002 in Civitavecchia, Italien) war ein chilenischer Architekt …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Roberto Matta — dans les années 1960. Nom de naissance Roberto Sebastián Antonio Matta Echaurren Activité …   Wikipédia en Français

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