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GORDON MATTA-CLARK: ''You Are the Measure''

At the Whitney Museum of American Art

By Glenn Loney


The Whitney Museum of American Art
945 Madison Ave. at 78th St

Closing June 3, 2007

It has been said of some Creative Talents--in sour cynicism--that Death Was a Good Career-Move!

That could also have been true of Gordon Matta-Clark, now enjoying a Whitney Retrospective from beyond the grave. Of course, we cannot know how this show looks From the Other-Side.

But from This Vantage-point in Time it looks like he was running out of Cute Ideas to keep his name & face in the Public Eye. One way he ensured his visage would survive the Test of Time was to have himself photographed or videoed In Action on various Projects.

Some artists would surely say: ''It's not about Me. My art is about Humanity!'' Or possibly: ''My art is about the act of painting. About the acts of Seeing & Painting!''

Matta-Clark is often central in his recorded-projects. Recorded, because they were often, of necessity, of the Moment.

Actually, some of his Cute Ideas really were rather cute: Hair, for example, with the artist sprouting Medusa-like Dreadlocks. He didn't take the photos, however. Those are credited to Carol Goodden.

His seminal & influential Food restaurant in Soho has been photographically documented.

And he was once on view at Kassel's famed Documenta!

Documenta 6, in fact, with his Jacob's Ladder, a Knotted-Rope Installation. For those who have never been, Documenta is rather like the Whitney Biennial--but much larger and less frequent…

What Matta-Clark is best-known for is/was cutting up old houses. But, to phrase this unusual Investigative Art-form so baldly is certainly an Over-Simplification. A critic-colleague explained to me that his sawed-off sections of roof-corners ''help you understand how carpenters put things together.''


This may be true for City-Folks in rented Condos, but if you Own Your Own Home and have to patch a leaky roof, you can find out the hard way how houses are constructed…