Author: Antonio Sergio Bessa
Publisher: Yale University Press
This revealing book looks at the groundbreaking work of Gordon Matta-Clark (1943–1978), whose socially conscious practice blurred the boundaries between contemporary art and architecture. After completing a degree in architecture at Cornell University, Matta-Clark returned to his home city of New York. There he employed the term “anarchitecture,” combining “anarchy” and “architecture,” to describe the site-specific works he initially realized in the South Bronx.
The borough’s many abandoned buildings, the result of economic decline and middle-class flight, served as Matta-Clark’s raw material. His series Cuts dissected these structures, performing an anatomical study of the ravaged urban landscape. Moving from New York to Paris with Conical Intersect, a piece that became emblematic of artistic protest, Matta-Clark applied this same method to a pair of 17th-century row houses slated for demolition as a result of the Centre Pompidou’s construction. This compelling volume grounds Matta-Clark’s practice against the framework of architectural and urban history, stressing his pioneering activist-inspired approach, as well as his contribution to the nascent fields of social practice and relational aesthetics.