New York

Gordon Matta-Clark

Galerie Lelong; Josh Baer Gallery

Gordon Matta-Clark was the focus of two recent shows, “Gordon Matta-Clark and Friends” at Lelong and a smaller solo show at Josh Baer. What was so refreshing about these exhibitions was the physical modesty of the works: that’s something to reminisce about and be grateful for.

The keynote work at Lelong was Matta-Clark’s famous Splitting photograph, 1974, which has no doubt become emblematic of a life cut short—another artist whom we, and the “cause” of art, have lost. (Matta-Clark died of cancer in 1978, at the age of 35.) One is suspicious of such canonizing, but it signals the elegiac mood running through Minimalism and Conceptualism. Epitomized perhaps by Barnett Newman’s Broken Obelisk, 1963–67, it is also evident in the peculiar air of parsimonious bleakness in most of the works here, whatever the medium. One is acutely aware of their intelligence and intimacy, from Richard Nonas’

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