I was consciously writing poetry before I was consciously making sculpture… . A typewriter has even spacing on the lines … [and] is essentially a grid… . Rather than trying to achieve a certain look, I was using the same underlying abstractions, the same underlying forms, in both [poetry and sculpture]–working out of the grid system of the typewriter to the actual grid system of paper in poetry and also using the same kind of system to plan sculptures to try and find elements that would work within a system.–Carl Andre, 1972
Carl Andre wrote poems from an early age. His mother was a poet, his father a draftsman; as a child, he read dictionaries, encyclopedias, technical books, and geometry books. Primarily known for his Minimalist sculptures such as Slope 2004 (on view in this gallery), Andre works with language in the same way that he handles sculptural materials. He often lifts the “material” from existing literary texts, then cuts it apart and rearranges it according to purely formal considerations. Words appear as words, letters as letters; the content and meaning of individual words are of secondary importance. This method merges the acts of reading and viewing, since what is to be read is contiguous with what is to be seen. In the end, the poems are very similar to the sculptures–the apparent simplicity of their geometric forms and familiar contents, as well as the scrupulous avoidance of straightforward meaning, act as a teaser to an experience of perception.