First retrospective of Carl André in Madrid

The words of the curator of "Carl Andre: Sculpture in town, 1958-2010", Yasmil Raymond, are a good way to approach the world of this artist and poet born in Massachusetts in 1935 and named representative of Minimal Art, also linked with Land Art and Conceptual Art. "The big question for Andre is man's relationship with space and materials out of the earth, looking for the definition of a place in the cosmos," Raymond said. "The materials and their use also involve a relationship with the economy and political because the places are not only geographical or geometrical condition. It also imports the link with memory, and emotions of existence, ", she added.
Carl André redefined the parameters of sculpture and subjected it to a process that includes the "Sculpture as form, as structure and as place". To do this, André altered the concept of composition, the usual materials, opened the "site-specific" way, seeking the essence of the object, looking to get the maximum expression with minimum resources, coming to stop using the material to sculpting with the space itself, creating places in the viewer's mind to put you in touch with the materials and their disposal.
 
Industrial materials such as concrete, cement, bricks, steel, raw wood, aluminum and graphite are covered with André, of noble air and convey emotions and moods. The sculptor even dispenses with pedestals and placed the sculptures on the ground, , closer to the earth ... as a  more human version until them seem barricades, walls, megalithic monuments, tombs...
The exhibition traces 50 years of the work of Carl Andre and has about 400 pieces, including sculptures, objects, visual poems and works on paper in which emphasizes his obsession with language - only during the 60s of last century, André created over 1000 pages of poems, collages Support, etc ... -.
 
As has explained the curator Yasmil Raymond, the artist always involve the public in its work: "Carl Andre uses the visitor experience as an element of the art work. The viewer must be brave to complete the organization of the work. The piece that it is in a store, does not exist ".
The exhibition in Madrid that will be since October 12 in two locations: the Sabatini Building of the Reina Sofia Museum until 28 September and Velázquez Palace in Retiro Park, is organized by the Dia Art Foundation New York in collaboration with the Reina Sofia Museum, and curated by Philippe Vergne and Yasmil Raymond with the participation of the artist. After Madrid, the exhibition will travel to the Hamburger Bahnhof Museum für Gegenwart, Berlin; Contemporary Musée d'Art de la Ville de Paris and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles.

 

Among the specialised professional profiles that we find in the cultural sector, and more specifically, in the field of visual arts, one of the most recent occupations is that of the curator. The ‘80s put attention on the role of the artist, with its innovative character and the enhancement of its figure as an essential articulator of creative proposals, while the end of the century moved the interest towards the exhibition centres themselves and their work as custodians of current production and as spaces to accommodate all proposals. The change of millennium strongly introduced in this panorama the role of the curator. Perhaps together with a social identity crisis, perhaps with the complexity that contemporary projects are currently acquiring, the need for building, articulating and delving into artistic discourses became evident.

Although the functions entrusted to this profession are not entirely new, since previously they belonged to conservatives, critics or experts according to the themes, the role has gained solidity because it combines all these purposes while allowing the specialisation of other professionals in their fields of competence. Now, as some curators themselves point out, the genuine spirit of this figure, who was born to facilitate the understanding of the discourse, create narratives within a sometimes chaotic and scattered context, mediate between the works and the spectator and create bridges between contemporary art and society.

The art of our day raises a multitude of unknowns for the visitor who must face proposals many times away from the aesthetic standards, which gives way to uncertainty and confusion; but, in turn, these works employ a closer language, materials and even compositions detached from the sophistication and the technical display of yesteryear, something that, far from favouring proximity to the message, generates some distancing. What we have just described is part of the very essence of current art. The questioning of the formalist guidelines and the recourse to tangible elements that are more utilitarian than embellishing are the new criteria of creation, where, above all, the message to be conveyed stands out.

Likewise, another inherent characteristic of the work of our time is the artists' concern for more immediate themes, for social, political and economic issues that seek to create a narrative and conceptual revulsion, leaving behind the aesthetic priority or, rather, making of the message its own aesthetic. In this context, strange as it may seem, contemporary creation encounters a linguistic barrier hindering the viewer's understanding. And to this circumstance, the abundant current production is added, covering a wide range of themes that are nothing more than a transcript of our diverse and globalised society.

The curator helps to facilitate this understanding by articulating a coherent discourse that allows the grouping of related ideas to set up the message. This requires to have an in-depth knowledge of the current state of the art, the lines of work of the creators, the most recent aesthetic proposals and the real demands of society to bridge the dialogue and allow the approach to art. If art deals with the same issues that concern us all, how can we not share its postulates? Cultural mediation requires the work of the curators to open a small window for reflection and to enable a space for exchange and idea generation. We share the thought that José Guirao expressed in a recent interview: "The curator is someone who reveals something new, and it would be a mistake for curators to become managers."

Understood this way curator’s role, many institutions have joined the trend of creating specific calls for new professionals to give light to their proposals. Let us remember, as an example, the call "Unpublished" of La Casa Encendida, or "Curator wanted", of the Community of Madrid or the call of Curating of La Caixa.