Sunday, November 2, 2008

Socially Engaged Art


Gordon Matta-Clark grew up in New York City, and was trained as an architect. He was influenced by art and artists from an early age, and he settled into the SoHo art scene of the 1960’s and 1970’s that challenged the status quo, for example the art gallery space itself. He helped established the first co-op gallery called by its street name: 112 Greene St. The gallery became an important hub of art and social activity, and provided artists a means to show their work, hold performances, dances, poetry-readings, and so on. His basic philosophy was that art was for everyone – everyone should make art. He was also keenly interested in the graffiti art movement and was interested in the work that was sprayed on train cars.

Matta-Clark also devised ways to bring art into derelict parts of the city, as well he was interested in helping create community gardens. He helped establish “The Kitchen” in New York City which is a non-profit organization and functioned as an artist collective. Again, this venue helped support artists, performing artists and writers and gave opportunities to present their works. It was a venue for artists and run by artists. Matta-Clark also established a restaurant called “Food Restaurant”.

It is apparent that Matta-Clark was a key figure in socially-engaged art, and cooperative endeavors, however he was also an artist who used abandoned buildings as a medium for his sculptures and created works that critiqued architecture. For example, his “Office Baroque”, 1977, “opened up condemned buildings by cutting sections representing a breakthrough in new forms of communication for a changing and more open society”. (Art of the 20th Century, p. 563).

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