Trained in architecture but drawn to creating art in the voids left behind by building, self-proclaimed anarchitect Gordon Matta-Clark was a hugely influential figure in art and architecture alike. Born from the rubble of New York industrial modernism, his re-evaluation of urbanism, graffiti and social housing in the 1970s South Bronx influenced deconstructionists such as Frank Gehry, Peter Eisenman and Daniel Libeskind. A new exhibition at Paris’ Second Empire-era real tennis courts will assemble over 100 personal artworks, prints and films to explore his work. Curator Sergio Bessa speaks about his legacy.
What was Matta-Clark’s work about?
After training at Cornell University’s School of Architecture, Matta-Clark applied his knowledge to critique the modernist programme, which at the time he saw as failing to provide citizens with a safe environment in which to to live and work. His strategy was to go into urban areas impacted by failing infrastructure and highlight their predicament through a series of interventions in abandoned buildings.
Despite his premature death in 1978, he captured many people’s attention. Why is his legacy so important?
He was active during a pivotal time, three decades after the end of World War Two when the restructure of the global economy brought hardship to major international cities. His work addressed pressing issues related to the era such as gentrification and inequality—issues that resonate in our present day.
What will we see in the exhibition?
A small cluster of projects that clearly depict his vision: his first series of programmatic building cuts realised in the Bronx in 1972, work from the Hudson River in 1975 and more from Paris as the Centre Pompidou was being built. There is also a selection of works on graffiti, including a video of Gordon’s attempt to intervene with the Berlin Wall in 1976.