(1931 – )
New York, Earthworks, Installation, Minimalism

Robert Morris, a Minimalist artist, was born in Kansas City, Missouri in 1931, studying at that city’s Art Institute from 1948 to 1950, and then at the California School of Fine Arts, San Francisco in 1951.

While living on the West Coast, he was involved with improvisational theater, film and painting.  He moved to New York City in 1961.  Like a number of artists of his age (Robert Motherwell, for example), emphasizing theory over artistic meaning, Morris did graduate work in art history, earning a master’s degree at Hunter College in 1963.

Morris’s theoretical writings, essentially a manifesto of Minimalism appearing in Artforum magazine between 1966 and 1970, sought to explain various art developments occurring in those decades.

His first sculptures, including a plywood tapering tunnel and a box entitled Box with the Sound of Its Own Making, date from 1961.  Such individual pieces, according to Morris, were not to be made according to criteria of taste, an outmoded concept, according to him but in response to various complex perceptual, intellectual, spatial, historical and above all, theoretical factors.

Such an art points to a turning away from timeless artistic values, for Morris’s work, like that of some of his other contemporaries, is best understood in the light of Dadaist anti-art theories of Marcel Duchamp and other artist early in the twentieth century who rebelled against tradition.

Source: Matthew Baigell, Dictionary of American Artists

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