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Robert Morris, "Untitled (Portland Mirrors)", 1977. Installation at the Portland Center for the Visual Arts, Oregon, March 1977 | Courtesy Castelli Gallery, New York
Robert Morris

The Perceiving Body

Mudam Luxembourg announces a major, new monographic exhibition of the early work of Robert Morris (b. 1931, Kansas City, Missouri; d. 2018, Kingston, New York). An important figure in the history of American sculpture after the Second World War, Morris was a chief proponent of Minimal, Postminimal and Conceptual art. This exhibition, which was conceived in dialogue with the artist before his death in 2018, offers a rare opportunity to view significant works of the 1960s and ’70s, including examples borrowed from major public collections as well as the artist’s estate.

Presented across five spaces on two floors of the museum, The Perceiving Body focuses on the artist’s experiments with form, process, and acts of beholding. The works included, dating from 1961 to 1977, are largely associated with Minimal and Postminimal Art, tendencies Morris also addressed – and helped to define – in his extensive theoretical writings of the period. Morris’s work is grounded in the significance of a direct or unmediated encounter with the sculptural object. With this in mind, the exhibition avoids the convention of the anthology or survey. Rather, large installations and discrete groups of related works have been selected to form a constellation of rooms each representing a separate but related aspect of the artist’s production during this period. Morris referred to his practice as a series of ‘investigations’. Indeed, through the application of principles such as permutation, repetition and chance, the works in the exhibition demonstrate both analytical precision and affective power.

The selection will include seminal objects such as L-Beams (1965), Mirrored Cubes (1965) and Ring with Light (1965–66), as well as a sequence of works made from industrial felt. On display will also be two large-scale works that each occupy an entire room. Scatter Piece (1968–69), a work of ‘no ideal or original state’, is an expansive installation of 200 elements in six metals (steel, aluminium, zinc, copper, lead, brass) and industrial felt, which were conceived and fabricated according to chance operations inspired by the composer John Cage (b. 1912, Los Angeles; d. 1992, New York). Their arrangement is not predetermined or fixed, but changes from one time to the next according to the choice of the installer. A second large installation, Portland Mirrors (1977), in which an arrangement of mirrors and timbers creates an uncanny illusion of imaginary space, will be shown in Mudam’s Grand Hall.

Robert Morris. The Perceiving Body will include works loaned from the Art Institute of Chicago and Tate Modern, London, among other museums. It is organised in collaboration with MAMC+, Musée d’art moderne et contemporain de Saint-Étienne Métropole (where it will be presented from June to September 2020).

Artist Biography
Robert Morris (b. 1931, Kansas City, Missouri; d. 2018, Kingston, New York) is a major figure in the history of Minimal, Postminimal and Conceptual Art. He was also a prominent critical voice during this period, making a significant contribution to the theoretical discourse of art after 1960. His first exhibition at the Green Gallery in 1963 marked the emergence of Minimalism, a movement brought to broad public attention in the survey exhibition Primary Structures, presented at the Jewish Museum in New York in 1966, where Morris’s work was shown with sculptures by Carl Andre, Dan Flavin, Donald Judd and Sol LeWitt, among others. Morris also made important contributions to the development of Land Art, Process Art, performance, and avant-garde film. Most recently, his works have been the subject of large-scale monographic exhibitions at the Institut Valencià d’Art Modern (2011); Museum Abteiberg, Mönchengladbach (2009); Tate Modern, London (2009); Museum of Modern Art, New York (2008); Museum Ludwig, Cologne (2002); and Musée d’art contemporain de Lyon (2000).

Curator Biography
Jeffrey Weiss is an independent curator and critic. He has been Senior Curator at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (2010–18); Director of the Dia Art Foundation, New York (2007–2008); and Curator and Head of Modern and Contemporary Art at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. (2007–2008). He is currently an Adjunct Professor at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, a position he has held since 2008. Weiss has organized major exhibitions of the work of On Kawara, Mark Rothko, Pablo Picasso, Jasper Johns, and Robert Morris, amongst others. A frequent contributor to Artforum, he is the editor and author of several books, including Robert Morris: Object Sculpture, 1960–1965 (2014). He lives and works in New York.

Credits

Curator:
  • Jeffrey Weiss
    The exhibition is coordinated by Clément Minighetti, assisted by Sarah Beaumont

The exhibition Robert Morris – The Perceiving Body is co-produced by Mudam Luxembourg – Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean and MAMC+.

This exhibition is made possible through support from the Terra Foundation for American Art.