Window Blow-Out, 1976
8 black and white photographs, vintage prints, baryta paper
26.8 x 34 cm each, framed 84.5 x 182.2 cm
For the exhibition Idea as Model at the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies in New York, Matta-Clark created one of his most renowned works. Most of the contributions to the show were not from artists but from architects (e. g., Richard Meier and Michael Graves), who built sophisticated architectural models to demonstrate their concepts. Referring to these two architects, Matta-Clark who studied architecture at Cornell University, declared, “These are the guys I studied with at Cornell, these were my teachers. I hate what they stand for.”
The night before the opening Gordon Matta-Clark discarded his original plan to cut a seminar room into two-by-two-foot squares and stack the pieces in the middle of the show. Instead, he borrowed an air gun from Dennis Oppenheim, blew out all the windows of the exhibition hall, and placed a photo in each casement showing a new housing project in the South Bronx, whose windows had been smashed by residents.
The curator of the exhibition, Andrew MacNair, saw Matta-Clark’s piece as a comment on modern architecture and architects, on good taste and builders of utopian projects in slums like the South Bronx. He spoke of a very aggressive and violent act. Actually he had given Matta-Clark permission to blow out the gallery windows but only those that were already broken. Matta-Clark blew out all of them. Peter Eisenman, the then director of the institute, saw a similarity with the “Reichskristallnacht” in Germany. The windows in the exhibition were all replaced that same night, prior to the opening, and very few people had the opportunity to see this work. (Sabine Breitwieser)