Gordon Matta-Clark

Gordon Matta-Clark

SMS Contemporanea

Gordon Matta-Clark
Conical Intersect, 1975
Copyright: Gordon Matta-Clark, by SIAE 2008
Courtesy the Estate of Gordon Matta-Clark
and David Zwirner, New York

June 3, 2008

Gordon Matta-Clark
6 June – 19 October 2008

Piazza Duomo, 1-2
53100 Siena
contemporanea [​at​] santamariadellascala.com


The Siena Contemporary Art Centre is delighted to announce a retrospective on the works of Gordon Matta-Clark, curated by Lorenzo Fusi and Marco Pierini in collaboration with the Estate of the Artist. The show opens in a new venue for the Centre, shortly to be moved from the Palazzo delle Papesse to the museum hub of Santa Maria della Scala, situated opposite the Sienese Cathedral.

The exhibition is the first to be devoted to the ‘anarchitect’ Matta-Clark in Italy, and one of the most important ever realized in Europe. The aim of the show is to propose a reconstruction of the artist’s varied and prolific career, ranging between the most diverse languages and forms of expression from the end of the Sixties until his premature demise in 1978. The itinerary, while following a chronological order, is structured around themes and groups of works. It opens with Garbage Wall (1970), a wall built with found materials and garbage, offered as a response to the plight of the homeless vis-a-vis the failure of affordable housing policies. Matta-Clark’s first interventions took place in abandoned buildings that were later to be defined as ‘non-sites’. Matta-Clark’s action marks the arrival of both conscience and environmental awareness in art. As an example, the Fresh Air Cart 1972 performance, where the artist offered free oxygen and rest to pedestrians. Matta-Clark’s research investigated entropic processes and the changes in urban textures and the transformation of architecture in urban environments.

The idea of endless transformation of nature is later juxtaposed to that of ‘artist as alchemist’. Matta-Clark is interested in the evolution and transformation of matter from one stage to the next: discarded bottles found on the street melted into glass bricks to be used as construction materials (Glass Brick, 1971), or how a vacant city pier can be transformed into a city park (Days End, 1975). In his pursuit of economical housing in the early Seventies, trees became a source of inspiration for the artist. Examples are the 1971 performance Tree Dance and many drawings and sketches where trees are folded, woven and composed in order to give life to shelters (Tree Forms, 1971). In 1973-1974, Matta-Clark began playing with the American myth that the U.S. has enough land for every citizen to become a property owner.

In Reality Properties: Fake Estates, thanks to the re-zoning cities are periodically forced into, the artist was able to purchase fifteen “estates” in Queens, NY for between 25 USD and 75 USD each. Several estates were a foot wide but several hundred feet long, some were completely landlocked. The more inaccessible the property was, the happier Matta-Clark was. Santa Maria della Scala will be proud to present these as part of the exhibition.

Special attention is also given to Matta-Clark’s famous ‘cuts’, such as Sauna (1971), in which the artists strips his friends bare in a sauna, and to the carrots in Conical Intersect (realised for in 1975 during the works for the forthcoming Centre Pompidou). Also on show will be many of the artist’s most beautiful photographic documentations of his notorious building cuts from projects such as Splitting, Bingo, Conical Intersect, Office Baroque and Circus.

Finally, the exhibition includes the almost complete filmography of the artist around which the exhibition itinerary was conceived, as a demonstration of the artist’s versatile power of innovation of the media as well as the impact of his performances and public interventions.

The catalogue, edited by Silvana Editoriale in bilingual italian/english edition will contain critical essays by: James Attlee, Jane Crawford, Louise Désy and Gwendolyn Owens, Lorenzo Fusi, Marco Pierini, Judith
Russi Kirscher.


OPENING: 6 June 2008, 6 pm
PRESS PREVIEW: 6 June 2008, noon

SMS Contemporanea (ex-Palazzo delle Papesse)
Piazza Duomo, 1-2
53100 Siena

Info and Press
Carlo Simula
+39 0577 220721

SMS Contemporanea

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SMS Contemporanea
June 3, 2008

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