Robert Morris: Mind / Body / Earth

Friday, October 19, 2012 - Sunday, March 17, 2013

Robert Morris (1931 – ) was born in Kansas City, MO. He studied at the Kansas City Art Institute from 1948 to 1950, followed by the California School of Fine Arts, San Francisco in 1951. While living on the West Coast, he was involved with improvisational theater, film and painting. He moved to New York City in 1961 and completed graduate work in art history, earning a master’s degree at Hunter College in 1963. Morris’s theoretical writings, essentially a manifesto on Minimalism appearing in Artforum magazine between 1966 and 1970, sought to explain various developments in the visual arts in those decades.

In the 1960s, Morris developed a large body of work, ranging from monochrome, Minimalist pieces often made of plywood, to a combination of original performance productions, to works of industrial felt. He collaborated with artist Walter de Maria, composer LA Monte Young and dancer Yvonne Ranier for his performance pieces. These works likely reinforced his interest in whole spatial fields, often evident in the arrangements of his Minimalist pieces.

Having an interest in the properties of materials, the artist also became concerned with the effects of chance operations on creativity, a theory that had earlier been explored by artist Marcel Duchamp and other Dadaists and Surrealists, themes also explored in Flux Cuts.

By 1968, Morris began to make so-called anti-form works, constructed or performed, and made of debris piles, bodies in movement and even steam. The works were sometimes documented photographically, and were meant to represent the end of any meaningful continuation of the modern art movement. Many of these works existed only for a finite moment in time.

Also in the late 1960s, a movement known as Land Art, Earthworks or Earth Art began to take shape among artists creating their art in nature, often employing materials such as stone, dirt and leaves. Many Earthworks are intended to help the viewer better understand nature, or to demonstrate the inherent differences between nature and civilization.

Artists participating in the movement include Robert Smithson, Walter De Maria, Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Mel Chin and Robert Morris. Morris created Earth Projects, a suite of ten color lithographs, in 1969. Each work depicts the plans for an earth work that would have been almost impossible to create. For more than 30 years, Morris has created Blind Time Drawings that visually and poetically explore the boundary between the imagination and the constraints of the body.

This exhibition includes prints, drawings, sculpture and video works by the artist.

Robert Morris: Mind / Body / Earth is organized by the Asheville Art Museum with the assistance of the Castelli Gallery, NYC.

View selected works in the exhibition »