Gordon Matta-Clark


Gordon Matta-Clark was born in New York in 1943, the son of the Chilean surrealist painter Roberto Matta and his American partner, Anne Clark. He studied architecture at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, USA, from 1962-68, and French literature at the Sorbonne in Paris, France, from 1962-63. Because of his radical, socially critical and innovative work, the artist, who died an early death in New York in 1978, still ranks among the most significant personalities of a New York art scene which had begun to spread through the suburb of Soho in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Additional biography

It was at around this time, too, that Matta-Clark began a series of works, which were displayed both in the public arena and at alternative galleries such as "98" and "112 Greene Street," and which covered, in an artistic form, subjects such as alchemy, trees, cooking, and recycling. The interaction of the human body with and within nature and similarly, with architecture, is a pivotal point around which his works orbited from the beginning, starting with "Rope Bridge" (1969) through his numerous drawings of trees, arrows and pictograms, his forceful alterations of buildings, his performances and on to his drafts for "Ballongebäude" (1978). Matta-Clark is known to all artists and architects, especially because of his so-called "Building Cuts" (1972-78) where he sliced through all layers of materials and removed entire chunks of abandoned buildings. The work process itself, the sudden penetration of light, vistas opening up, and the public’s perambulations in the transformed building along with the potential hazards involved, were integral elements of these works. Since none of the works themselves could be preserved, Matta-Clark’s films offer the best access to an appreciation of this group of works. The medium of film was, however, also employed by Matta-Clark in a reflective and analytical manner, e. g., as an instrument of supervision in "Chinatown Voyeur" (1971) or in researching the underground of cities, such as in "Substrait" (1976) and "Sous-sols de Paris" (1977). The Generali Foundation also organized a major retrospective in 1999, where Matta-Clark’s conceptual approach was presented in greater detail and also, for the first time, his graphic work. The Generali Foundation has acquired - along with other central works - all of Gordon Matta-Clark’s films and videos and has contributed - in conjunction with other renowned international institutions - to the restoration of these important works. (Sabine Breitwieser)

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