Collections> Browse André Cadere

Collections> Browse André Cadere

André Cadere
Holdings (2)
1 sculpture, 1 internet art

essay André Cadere, Walker Art Center Collections, 2005

In 1970, André Cadere embarked on his signature body of work—the Barres de bois rond (Round Bars of Wood), which were a part of a larger conceptual project that he would sustain until his untimely death in 1978. For each of the approximately one hundred eighty bars he created during his short career, the artist followed a consistent process: he cut dowels of various sizes into segments for which diameter equals length,1 drilled a hole in the center, and painted each unit before “stringing” them like beads onto a smaller dowel and gluing them into place. Cadere imposed limitations in terms of color and size: his palette was restricted to red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet, black, and white, and the overall length was kept to only those dimensions that would allow him to carry a bar comfortably.2

The organizing principle behind the Barres de bois rond was Cadere’s application of seven mathematical systems that he called “permutations,” into which he introduced an intentional error. Each bar followed one of the systems to dictate the order of the colored segments.3 By employing this complex process, he sought to create what he called “established disorder,”4 an oxymoron he found useful to his exploration of duality.

Although each bar is an independent work of art, they also became subsidiary components in an ongoing, peripatetic performance. His primary concern was to eschew dependence on cultural institutions by showing his works in unorthodox ways. On numerous occasions he entered (uninvited) what he called “artistic sanctuaries” and surreptitiously placed one of his bars among the works in the exhibition; an anarchic, intrusive act that caused great consternation among his fellow artists and curators. The ensuing disruption was of principal importance to his critique of the art establishment. He also carried his pieces in the streets, parks, and cafés of Europe’s art capitals, thereby creating his own exhibition spaces. According to Cadere, “[It] is obvious that a round bar of wood can be exhibited anywhere, without patron or client, a special location, or an express authorization… . However, the very same work can be hung on a wall—including a gallery wall—and fixed or set up in any number of ways in the place traditionally assigned to ‘classical’ works. For it is important that this ‘classical’ power should not marginalize my pieces, isolating them in something like an ‘avant-garde’ zone.”5 It is clear that Cadere was no naïf; he was aware that in order for his work to be seriously considered by the art intelligentsia, he would have to acquiesce occasionally to traditional installation modes. This element of flexibility enabled him to show his work “toward and against everyone and everything.”6

  1. Since each of the bars is handmade, the actual diameter and length of each segment is variable.

  2. The number of colors in a single bar ranges from three to seven, and the number of segments from as few as twelve up to fifty-two. The Walker’s piece has four colors: white (W), black (B), orange (O), and red ®; and fifty-two segments, an example of one of the longest bars he made.

  3. For instance, the bar in the Walker’s collection adheres to the following permutation: 1234-2134-2314-2341-3241-3421-3412-4312-4132-4123-1423-1243-1234. Starting with the white end, with W = 1, B = 2, O = 3, R = 4 (error below in bold): WBOR-BWOR-BOWR-BORW-OBRW-ORBW-ORWB-ORWB-RWOB-RWBO-WRBO-WBRO-WBOR. Starting with the red end, with R = 1, O = 2, B = 3, W = 4 (error below in bold): ROBW-ORBW-OBRW-OBWR-BOWR-BWRO-BWRO-WBRO-WRBO-WROB-RWOB-ROWB-ROBW. All seven of Cadere’s numerical permutations can be found in Bernard Marcelis, “André Cadere: The Strategy of Displacement,” in Carole Kismaric, Chris Dercon, and Bernard Marcelis, eds., André Cadere: All Walks of Life, exh. cat. (Long Island City, New York: P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center, 1992), 77–82.

  4. Quoted in Marcelis, “Strategy of Displacement,” 74.

  5. Quoted in David Bourdon, “André Cadere, 1934–1978,” Arts Magazine 53, no. 3 (November 1978): 103.

  6. Cadere, excerpt from correspondence to his dealer Yvon Lambert, June 5, 1978, in All Walks of Life, 22.

Carpenter, Elizabeth. “André Cadere.” In Bits & Pieces Put Together to Present a Semblance of a Whole: Walker Art Center Collections, edited by Joan Rothfuss and Elizabeth Carpenter. Minneapolis, MN: Walker Art Center, 2005.

© 2005 Walker Art Center


artist’s quote artist’s quote Johns, Jasper, 1959

Sometimes I see it and then paint it. Other times I paint it and then see it. Both are impure situations, and I prefer neither. Jasper Johns, 1959

artworks — André Cadere — Collections — Walker Art Center