Carl Andre is an American minimalist artist recognized for his ordered, geometrically arranged sculptures. Along with Donald Judd, Dan Flavin, and Sol LeWitt, Andre emerged in the 1960s as one of the key exponents of Minimalism.
Born in Quincy, Massachusetts in 1935, Andre grew up in a family of bricklayers, carpenters, and shipbuilders, an upbringing that is said to have had a decisive influence upon his later use of industrial materials. He studied art at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, and, after serving in the United States Army, moved to New York City in 1956. It was in New York that the artist discovered the work of Constantin Brancusi and became reacquainted with his former classmate Frank Stella. Both events had a major influence on Andre’s early artistic development.
Andre’s work consists of ordinary, industrial materials – most frequently tiles, bricks, metal, or wood – arranged into grid-like, linear configurations that are set directly on the ground. In this way, Andre distanced sculpture from traditional processes of carving, modelling, or constructing to make works that simply involved sorting and placing, creating, in his own words, ‘sculpture as place.’ Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, his radical low-lying, segmented works came to redefine the very nature of sculpture itself, exerting a powerful influence on future generations of sculptors, including Richard Serra. Depersonalized, with no trace of the artist’s hand and signifying nothing more than its constituent parts, Andre’s work became recognized as some of the most influential sculpture of the 20th Century.
Andre’s work has been the subject of a number of museum retrospectives, notably at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, in 1970; the Laguna Gloria Art Museum, Austin, Texas, in 1978; the Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, in 1978; the Stedelijk Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, in 1987; the Haus Lange und Haus Esters, Krefeld; the Kunstmuseum, Wolfsburg, in 1996, and the Musée Cantini, Marseilles, in 1997.
Andre’s last retrospective occurred at Dia Beacon in 2014. The exhibition toured the globe, appearing at the Museo Nacional de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, Hamburger Bahnhof, Museum für Gegenwart, Berlin, as well as the Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris. In 2017, this exhibition was presented at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.