Robert Morris: Deflationary Objects, 1962-1976

November 4 - December 20, 2008

Leo Castelli Gallery is pleased to announce “Robert Morris, Deflationary Objects, 1962-1976”, an exhibition of small-scale sculptures by the well-known American artist. First exhibited at the Green Gallery in New York in 1963, these sculptures have over the years become one of Mr. Morris’ most unique and iconic bodies of work. This will be the first time the public will have the chance to see several of these works together since Mr. Morris’ retrospective at the Guggenheim Museum in 1994.

Art critics have often described these sculptures as Neo-Dada because of the close relation they have with Duchamp’s work. Pharmacy, 1962, for example, consists of a pseudo-scientific structure where facing mirrors reflect a central glass slide on which one side there is a painted green form; the other the same form painted in red. This work directly relates to the 1914 sculpture by Duchamp entitled Pharmacie.

In other sculptures, however, the relationship to Duchamp is not as explicit and more often relates to Duchamp’s general interest in investigations of perception and measurement. Recurrent in several works are rulers, like Ruler and Shadow, 1962, where a measuring ruler sticks out of a wood panel, creating a shadow on it that is then raised in relief; or in Untitled (Cock/Cunt), 1963 consisting of two artist made rulers hinged together and mounted on a painted wood base. When the rulers are closed on to one another the words “cunt” and “cock” can be read on the wood. These rulers also are illustrative of another of Robert Morris’ interests: memory. His rulers are not exact in their measurement, not because they are not intended to be, but rather because he made them by memory, according to what his idea or recollection of one “inch”.

The artist’s perception of himself can be seen in several sculptures that are quite unconventional and revolutionary self-portraits for their time. I-box, 1962, is comprised of a wooden box covered in sculpmetal with a pink door in the shape of the letter I. When the door is opened it reveals a photograph of the artist naked. Self-Portrait (EEG), 1963, is based on the artist’s electroencephalogram, the measurement of electrical activity produced by the brain as recorded from electrodes placed on the scalp. The artist concentrated on himself for the length of time it took the electroencephalograph to inscribe lines equal to his height. He then used a lead label to distinguish each line and its corresponding region of the brain.

The works are constructed of wood, plaster or lead. These sculptures are often painted in a light gray color that gives them their characteristic appearance.

For further information please contact the gallery at 212-249-4470 or