Minimal Art

Robert Morris

United States 1931 - 2018

Installation, Sculpture, Minimal Art, Performance Art, Conceptual Art, Land Art

Robert Morris
Robert Morris
United States
November 21, 2014
Ok, I know it's so damn corny to quote somebody just to describe yourself, let alone Confucius, but this quote says all about my relationship with Widewalls, so forgive me for doing this: Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life. Am I forgiven?

Robert Morris was an American sculptor, conceptual artist and writer. He was one of the most prominent theorists of Minimalism and also made important contributions to the development of performance, minimalism, land, the Process and installation art.

He was born in Kansas City, Missouri and turned to art and art criticism after studying engineering, eventually writing a 1966 master’s thesis on Constantin Brancusi at Hunter College, New York. Initially a painter, Morris’ work of the 1950s was influenced by Abstract Expressionism and particularly Jackson Pollock. While living in California, Morris also came into contact with the work of La Monte Young and John Cage. The idea that art making was a record of a performance by the artist (drawn from Hans Namuth’s photos of Pollock at work) in the studio, led to an interest in dance and choreography.

Morris’s early sculpture tended to emphasize a banal repertoire of form and subject-matter, while attempting to investigate the role of language in artistic representation. Through an influential series of articles that began to appear, irregularly, in the New York art press c. 1966, Morris assumed a highly visible position in determining both the objectives and the tenor of Minimalism in America, then in its early stages. During the 1960s and 1970s, Morris played a central role in defining three principal artistic movements of the period: Minimalist sculpture, Process Art, and Earthworks. In the late 1960s and 1970s, the rigid plywood and steel of Morris’s Minimalist works gave way to the soft materials of his experiments with Process Art. Subsequent projects Morris made during the late 1960s and early 1970s include indoor installations of such unorthodox materials as dirt and thread waste, which resisted deliberate shaping into predetermined forms, and monumental outdoor Earthworks.

In the late 1960s, Morris began introducing indeterminacy and temporality into the artistic process, referred to as Process art or Anti-Form. By cutting, dropping, or stacking everyday materials such as felt or rags, Morris emphasized the ephemeral nature of the artwork, which would ultimately change every time it was installed in a new space. This replaced what Morris posited as the fixed, static nature of Minimalist, or “object-type,” art.

When a collector, the architect Philip Johnson, did not pay Morris for a work he had ostensibly purchased, the artist drew up a certificate of de-authorization that officially withdrew all aesthetic content from his piece, making it nonexistent as art.

Morris died on November 28th, 2018.

YearExhibition TitleGallery/MuseumSolo/Group 
2014Robert Morris Red and Black Black and RedLeo Castelli Gallery, New York City, NYSolo
2014ExchangeFlat Time House (FTHo), LondonGroup
2014Benglis 73/74 - Sutton ProjectsMelbourne, VICGroup
2014Benglis 73/74Sutton Gallery, Melbourne, VICGroup
2014Love Story - The Anne & Wolfgang Titze CollectionBelvedere, ViennaGroup
2014Love Story – Sammlung Anne & Wolfgang Titze21er Haus, ViennaGroup
2014Showing the Work - Franklin Street WorksStamford, CTGroup
2014Art of SoundFondazione Prada, VeniceGroup
2014A InusitadaMuseu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand - MASP, São PauloGroup
2014Pleasing Artists And Publics Since 1963ICA - Institute of Contemporary Art - University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PAGroup
2014Art of its Own MakingThe Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts, Saint Louis, MOGroup
2014Beyond Earth ArtHerbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Ithaca, NYGroup
2013HANGING SOFT AND STANDING HARDSprüth Magers London, LondonSolo
2013Serial Attitudes - Repetition as an artistic method since the 1960sHamburger Kunsthalle,HamburgGroup
2013Experiments in the Fault Zone Mills College Art Museum, Oakland, CAGroup
2013Lunch With Olympia32 Edgewood Gallery - Yale University School of Art, New Haven, CTGroup
2013Minimal And MoreThe Rose Art Museum, Waltham, MAGroup
2013In DeedContemporary Art Centre (CAC), VilniusGroup
2013Recent Works by Diana Kingsley, Robert Morris, Richard Pettibone, Mike and Doug Starn, and Keith SonnierLeo Castelli Gallery, New York City, NYGroup
2013When Attitudes Become Form: Bern 1969 / Venezia 2013Fondazione Prada, VeniceGroup
2013From Gesture to LanguageRockbund Art Museum (RAM), ShanghaiGroup
2013In Deed: Certificates of Authenticity in ArtWeatherspoon Art Museum, Greensboro, NCGroup
2012Mind / Body / EarthAsheville Art Museum, Asheville, NCSolo
2012Robert Morris - Ten Works Five DecadesLeo Castelli Gallery, New York City, NYSolo
2012Cellblock IiAndrea Rosen Gallery, New York City, NYGroup
2012Side By SideLeo Castelli Gallery, New York City, NYGroup
2012OurselvesACCA - Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne, VICGroup
2012Body LanguageCentre culturel Suisse, ParisGroup
2012The New York Collection for StockholmGeorgia Museum of Art, Athens, GAGroup
2012Less Is MoreHeide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne, VICGroup
2011Robert Morris: Drawings 1961-1976Craig F. Starr Gallery, New York City, NYSolo
2011untitled 1968, Expanded Aluminium 16 UnitsGalerie Jürgen Becker, HamburgSolo
2011Robert Morris: Filmes E VÍdeos/corpoespaÇo MovimentocoisasMuseu Serralves - Museu de Arte Contemporânea, PortoSolo
2011Robert Morris - 1934 and BeforeLeo Castelli Gallery, New York City, NYSolo
2010Blind TimeSprüth Magers Berlin, BerlinSolo
2010Robert Morris. Notes On Sculpture - ms2Muzeum Sztuki Lodz, LodzSolo
2010Robert Morris. Notes On SculptureMiejska Galeria Sztuki Lodz, LodzSolo
2010Robert Morris - Untitled (Scatter Piece), 1968 - 69Leo Castelli Gallery, New York City, NYSolo
2009Robert Morris - Notes on SculptureStädtisches Museum Abteiberg, MönchengladbachSolo
2008Deflationary ObjectsLeo Castelli Gallery, New York City, NYSolo
2008Robert Morris - Notes on SculptureStädtisches Museum Abteiberg, MönchengladbachSolo
2008Morning Star Evening StarSprüth Magers London, LondonSolo
2008The Birthday BoyLeo Castelli Gallery, New York City, NYSolo
2008Robert Morris - The Birthday BoySimon Fraser University Art Gallery, Burnaby, BCSolo
2006Robert Morris - Waxing Time, Waning Light: New PaintingsLeo Castelli Gallery, New York City, NYSolo
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