Carl André‘s work is still considered revolutionary and difficult to understand. We witness it while wandering around his restrospective show at the Velázquez Palace, Museo Centro de Arte Reina Sofía. People there look puzzled, not knowing if what they are seeing is real or not.
He’s part of a generation of artists that adscribe themselves to Minimal Art, a movement that wanted to break art from everything coming from the past. And they did it.
His sculptures are shown without any pedestal, rather displayed straight on the floor, having actually said that some of his pieces are made to be walked. He tried to get away of manual work, making his sculptures look exactly as if they were casualties taken from the streets and shown as Duchamp would have made it. His use of materials though is selecting pure and industrial like concrete, wood or metal.
Yet the complexity of his work is trying to capture the attention to the surrounding space, to the architecture. His sculptures are place, and for that reason they imply a relationship with time, due to time passes in a determined space.
When I see his work installed in this wonderful building of Velázquez Palace, I can’t stop thinking of the very different experience I Had looking at the same show but this time at the DIA Foundation, (outside New York), this modern building of pure lines and wide spaces it is the perfect place to show minimal or conceptual art.
The XIXth century Velázquez Palace is completely the opposite, adding to André’s work warm elements that come from the contrast with history, making his work look as new and mysterious as the famous monolite did in 2001: Space Oddity film by Stanley Kubrick.