Addison Gallery of American Art, Phillips Academy - Timber Notch Exercise

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Image of Timber Notch Exercise

Carl Andre , b. Sep 16, 1935

Timber Notch Exercise

40 in. x 5 1/2 in. (101.6 cm x 13.97 cm)

Medium and Support: Wood (one saw-carved timber)
Credit Line: Gift of Maud Morgan, Addison Art Drive
Accession Number: 1992.8


One of the important minimalist sculptors of the late twentieth century, Carl Andre graduated from Phillips Academy in 1953. In a 1972 interview with Paul Cummings, Andre described a “formulation,” created “half in jest” he claimed, that his three important art influences were, first his Phillips art teachers Patrick and Maud Morgan, who “pointed out that art is actually produced; it’s from human energy and not the energy of the dead but the energy of the living;” his academy classmate and future film maker, Hollis Frampton, who avowed that “not only is it the living who produce art, it is we who produce art, ourselves who produce art,” and the painter Frank Stella, class of 1954, who proved “not only that we the living produce art, but we must establish what we’re going to do and by what measures and standards.”

A childhood spent foraging and scavenging through massive stone quarries and industrial shipyards of his hometown of Quincy, Massachusetts, instilled in Andre a love of materials, scale, and place, elements that he considers essential in all his sculpture. Timber Notch Exercise, Quincy, Massachusetts, 1964, a most fitting gift of Maud Morgan to the Addison collection, is part of a series of early work called “Exercises,” in which he notched and cut blocks of rough-hewn wood—some single pieces as this is—others that involved component pieces assembled in relation to each other. With Timber Notch—as typical of all his work—Andre was not only attentive to the materiality of the piece, but also the way it related to the floor, took up space, and engaged the viewer. Deliberately stripping away all references beyond materials, scale, and place in his work, Andre avows, “Art excludes the unnecessary. That is the only true sense for me of ‘Minimalism.’”

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