Visual Art Copying Art, Part 2
posted by June 11 at 11:00 AMon
I added an anecdote about the Getty’s copies of Allan Kaprow’s activity books in that Slog post, and here’s another anecdote I ran into while doing the reporting.
It turns out that Carl Andre copied one of his own works to cancel out the original because he felt the original was being so mistreated.
Andre “completely disowned” his original, declaring it “a corpse.”
“And to force the point, he had the sculpture remade, displaying it in his own counter-exhibition, in an ugly, disused warehouse space in downtown New York. So for one month in the spring of 1976, intrepid enthusiasts of contemporary sculpture had the chance to visit two identical versions of 29th Copper Cardinal, both made from identical copper plates, and both passing as Carl Andre sculptures.”
This story was related by Alistair Rider, an art historian working on a book about Andre, at
I emailed Rider to ask for elaboration, and here’s what he wrote back:
1. CA is invited to install 12th Copper Corner at the Whitney museum for inclusion in ‘200 Years of American Sculpture.’ He goes into the museum with the Whitney staff and selects a corner for his work. The piece is photographed for the catalogue (200 Years of American Sculpture, ed. by Tom Armstrong, Whitney Museum of American Art, 1976). The work is an unsold piece, but he and his gallery are hopeful that the Whitney will buy.
2. In March, just before the show’s opening, Andre pops into the museum to check up on the piece. He discovers it has been moved to another corner, which in his view is not so appropriate. There is a window in one of the walls and a fire escape with a neon sign that casts a reflection on the surface. At the earlier location, the walls had been blank.
3. Andre asks for 12th Copper Corner to be moved back to the original location. The gallery designers Venturi & Rausch refuse, and so Andre withdraws the piece from the show.
4. The Whitney is now in a fix. They feel Andre is too important an artist not to be represented, so they include a replacement work, which in this instance they do ownó29th Copper Cardinal. They install this, and Andre comes to have a look at it.
5. Andre dislikes the presentation: to counteract the uneven floor in the gallery, the curators have installed it on a rubber mat, which in his mind destroys the effect of the piece entirely. (Nowadays it’s common practice to install his larger pieces on matsóbut that’s another matter.)
6. Andre asks them to withdraw this piece as well. The Whitney refuse and argue that he has no moral rights over the piece, because they own the piece.
7. Andre is furious and offers to buy back the work for £26,000. Initially it had cost £23,000. But the Whitney never responded to his request.
8. So Andre remakes 29th Copper Cardinal and installs it alongside 12th Copper Corner in a warehouse Rosemarie Castoro has procured for him on West Broadway.
And that’s how one 29th Copper Cardinal came to be two.
Here’s an installation shot of 12th Copper Corner at the Whitney along with Andre’s (wonderfully histrionic) postcard response to the situation.