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Robert Morris

Robert Morris

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Robert Morris is an American sculptor, conceptual artist and writer. He is regarded as one of the most prominent theorists of Minimalism along with Donald Judd but he has also made important contributions to the development of performance art, land art, the Process Art movement and installation art.

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Robert Morris (born February 9, 1931 in Kansas City, Missouri) is an American sculptor, conceptual artist and writer. He is regarded as one of the most prominent theorists of Minimalism along with Donald Judd but he has also made important contributions to the development of performance art, minimalism, land art, the Process Art movement and installation art. Morris lives and works in New York. In 2013 as part of the October Files, MIT Press published a volume on Morris, examining his work and influence, edited by Julia Bryan-Wilson.

Between 1948 and 1950, Morris studied engineering at the University of Kansas. He then studied art at both the University of Kansas and at Kansas City Art Institute as well as philosophy at Reed College [1]. He interrupted his studies in 1951-52 to serve with the United States Army Corps of Engineers in Arizona and Korea. After moving to New York City in 1959 to study sculpture, he received a master's degree in art history in 1963 from Hunter College.

Initially a painter, Morris’ work of the 1950s was influenced by Abstract Expressionism and particularly Jackson Pollock. While living in California, Morris also came into contact with the work of La Monte Young, John Cage, and Warner Jepson with whom he and first wife Simone Forti collaborated. The idea that art making was a record of a performance by the artist (drawn from Hans Namuth’s photos of Pollock at work) in the studio led to an interest in dance and choreography. During the 1950s, Morris' furthered his interest in dance while living in San Francisco with his wife, the dancer and choreographer Simone Forti. Morris moved to New York in 1960. In 1962 where he staged the performance Column at the Living Theater in New York based on the exploration of bodies in space in which an upright square column after a few minutes on stage falls over.

In New York, Morris began to explore the work of Marcel Duchamp, making conceptual pieces such as Box with the Sound of its Own Making (1961) and Fountain (1963). In 1963 he had an exhibition of Minimal sculptures at the Green Gallery in New York that was written about by Donald Judd. The following year, also at Green Gallery, Morris exhibited a suite of large-scale polyhedron forms constructed from 2 x 4s and gray-painted plywood. In 1964 Morris devised and performed two celebrated performance artworks 21.3 in which he lip syncs to a reading of an essay by Erwin Panofsky and Site with Carolee Schneemann. Morris enrolled at Hunter College in New York (his masters thesis was on the work of Brâncuși) and in 1966 published a series of influential essays "Notes on Sculpture" in Artforum. He exhibited two L Beams in the seminal 1966 exhibit, "Primary Structures" at the Jewish Museum in New York.

In 1967 Morris created Steam, an early piece of Land Art. By the late 1960s Morris was being featured in museum shows in America but his work and writings drew criticism from Clement Greenberg. His work became larger scale taking up the majority of the gallery space with series of modular units or piles of earth and felt. Untitled (Pink Felt) (1970), for example, is composed of dozens of sliced pink industrial felt pieces that have been dropped on the floor. In 1971 Morris designed an exhibition for the Tate Gallery that took up the whole central sculpture gallery with ramps and cubes. He published a photo of himself dressed in S&M gear in an advertisement in Artforum, similar to one by Lynda Benglis, with whom Morris had collaborated on several videos.

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Robert Morris Artworks
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