Robert Morris b. 1931

Robert Morris is a pioneering conceptual artist and theorist, playing a central role in the emergence of Minimalism, Process Art and Land Art in the 1960s and 1970s. Morris was born in Kansas City, Missouri in 1931 and studied engineering and philosophy and, later, art and art criticism at Hunter College. Morris began as a painter and his early sculptures came out of the Judson Dance Theater he founded with his wife Simone Forti in 1962, which explored improvisation and ephemerality, and valued process over outcome. His first minimalist sculptures, industrial and rudimentary, were made as props for dance performances. Minimalism emphasized the direct experience of the art object itself, rather than what it represented or expressed and Morris pushed this thinking even further in the 1970s, placing importance in the underlying concepts of a work, rather than the physical object that the idea produces. He uses materials such as felt, dirt and thread waste to create subversive works that rejected the prominence of the art object and focuses on the viewer’s engagement with the work in time and space. Morris detailed these radical theories in essays published in Art Forum beginning in 1966. His diverse and experimental body of work often deals with themes of feminism, war, memory and relational experience, and interrogating political and societal structures.

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