PRINT March 1972

Works and Statements

A floor to ceiling piece, beginning at the ceiling. At this point I was still thinking about making single units and I didn’t want to do repeats the way Minimal art had done; and I didn’t want to do permutations the way serial art had done. Giotto ground the colors of the earth. I felt my sensibility lie there.

Each element of the work is a sign functioning much as a letter does in language. Alone, the element is complete. In relation to other elements a logic is set up, interior to itself, in the way a grouping of letters makes a word. I designated the panels as A1/B, B1/B and C1/B. I realized that when I put units together this way they ceased to be objects and took on the same quality as functions in math.

I’m working in sets that relate to the whole room. In the interest of cogency I added the plus sign because I wanted to make it clear that it was one work.

I was thinking of the word “and,” and tried to signify each individual letter and make them interlock to make a new totality. In the third element I used oil as a permeating sheet for the first time. The ripping of paper was wanted. The degree of ripping was a clear function of dissimilar weights.

After working on the idea of sets and subsets I decided to make a large work. The units were to define the set, to define the wall, and to interact with one another.

The subset contains the same parts as the set put together in another way. By convention every set is a subset of itself. And yet, the subset can not be reversed back into the set. I am working with sets and yet sets are certainly not the things I mean to be presenting. Set is a means like any other, board, paper, graphite, oil. What is the way that something can exist?

I was trying to figure out set membership. I wanted to do a work that contained vast similarities and dissimilarities within the context of a single set. This study led directly to Group. To talk about painterliness is to mistake the identity of the intention. The color totally permeates all the sheets. The oil of the backboards comes forward where the nails go through the paper.

When I read about theoretical analyses, an immediate visualization takes place. When I read about disjunction I visualized disjunction in terms of crude oil; I mean I visualized the functions of disjunction in terms of the absorption of crude oil, and crude oil in terms of a liquid sheet.

The work is the intersection of Group and Disjunction. I synthesized the parts of Group and the remaining parts of Disjunction to form Intersection. I had always used a level line in my work and I decided to make it apparent as an autonomous element.

Scalar is a set, a bracketed situation. What it is for me is an extensive thought grid.

Robert Pincus-Witten