American artist Carl Andre is born in Quincey, Massachusetts, in 1935. He begins to study art in 1951 with Patrick Morgan at the Philipps Academy in Andover, Massachusetts. Early on he becomes acquainted with industrial processing and materials while working side jobs in Boston heavy industry. These jobs allow him to make his first trips to England and France in 1954.
After moving to New York, Andre first works from 1957 on as editorial assistant at publishing houses in New York. Here he becomes acquainted with the fellow student Frank Stella through Hollis Frampton, who had also studied at the Philipps Academy, and begins to work in his Atelier in 1958. Pyramid-like objects made from identical wooden beams (Pyramid 1959) and stele-like deeply grooved wooden rafters (Last Ladder, 1959) emerge, reminiscent of Brancusi’s Endless Columnfrom 1937/38. Andre follows his lead, especially when it comes creating sculptures directly in the material without a blueprint. Nonetheless, he has reservations about Brancusi’s symbolic understanding of art and his anthropomorphic references.
Andre’s work as brakeman and yardmaster for cargo trains with Pennsylvania Railroad in New Jersey (1960 — 64) supports his previous interest in processes and materials from industrial culture. During these years his idea of sculpture linked to places and transit becomes more concrete. Andre dedicates himself increasingly to serial sculpture influenced by the work of constructivist artist Alexander Rodschenko, as we see with his Space Construction Nr. 23 from 1921. Andre develops these thoughts further in 1960 with a series of drawings, the so-called Element Series, which he could not execute until the 1970s for reasons of cost. Prototypical for this series is the work Herm from 1960/1976 – a single vertical wooden beam. Andre develops a design plan that he tests with countless variations during the ensuing years – simple serial structures of prefabricated individual elements made of homogeneous materials that serve to establish the point of view.
Two one-man shows are especially important for Andre’s further artistic development. In the year 1966 he shows a group of flat floor pieces for the first time in the Tibor de Nagy Gallery in New York, the so-called Equivalent Series. With this he breaks with the traditional notion of a vertically oriented sculpture, in which he lays out various square cubes from two different quarries on the floor of the gallery. With the group show entitled »Primary Structures. Younger American and British Sculptors« from 1966 in the Jewish Museum New York, Andre becomes a full-fledged Minimal Artist. He shares a common interest with Donald Judd, Robert Morris, Sol Lewitt, and Tony Smith, in principles of industry standards and the reduction of sculptural expression to the presentation of fundamental laws of perception. The second important one-man show takes place in the following year in the Dwan Gallery in Los Angeles. Here he also shows a floor work that is specifically constructed for the gallery space entitled 8 Cuts. An expansive room is almost completely covered with poured cement corner stones. The respective »empty spaces« are arranged parallel to the edges of the interior.
These concepts of serial, horizontal and space-adapted sculpture deliver the theoretical preconditions for Andre’s exceptional works, which are made of wooden blocks, red brick, square metal plates. Evidently there is the continuous desire to define sculptures less as objects and more as locations. This is in keeping with his idea from 1968 on the development of »Sculpture as form, Sculpture as structure and sculpture as place«, executed in a series of museal »Places«. Thus 144 Steel Square from 1967 consisted of 64 square metal plates and the work 35 Timberline from 1968 consisted of 35 wooden beams. Since 1968 Andre has been represented by countless important exhibitions in Europe, in the exhibition in den Haag’s Gemeentemuseum »Minimal Art« 1968 and at the Documenta 4 in Kassel the same year. In 1969 he participates in the exhibition »When Attitudes Become Form« in Bern, which then traveled to Krefeld and London. In the 1970s many large installations, including Blocks and Stones for the Portland Center for the Visual Arts, Oregon 1973 and Stone Field Sculpture in 1977 in Hartford.
Carl Andre lives in New York.