In 1975 the young American artist Gordon Matta-Clark took a chainsaw to a perfectly ordinary single family house in Englewood, New Jersey and split it in two. While the stunt smacked of bad-boy behavior and art world sensationalism, it was hardly an act of anarchy or desperation. Rather, it was the intervention of an artist with the keenest sensitivities renouncing commercialism in search of a more elemental understanding of space and materials.
A new exhibit at the David Zwirner Gallery collects artworks from 112 Greene Street, the legendary gallery Matta-Clark founded in SoHo in 1970. That space became a haven for a vibrant, eclectic group of New York artists who gathered, debated, performed, and exhibited there. This survey, which includes many pieces by Matta-Clark himself, brings that world richly to life and illuminates the themes of his work, themes that are as resonant today as they were forty years ago.
Educated as an architect, Matta-Clark left the profession to create sculptures, installations, films and photographs that often employed architectural forms and materials in unorthodox, unsettling ways. His most famous works are “cuttings,” strategic slicings, removals, and recombinations of parts of existing buildings.