© Estate of Gordon Matta-Clark, courtesy: David Zwirner, New York / London

Day’s End

ArtistGordon MATTA-CLARK
Material/ Techniquesuper 8 film
Size/ Duration23 min. 10 sec.
Copyright Notice© Estate of Gordon Matta-Clark
courtesy: David Zwirner, New York / London
Year of acquisition/ donation2003
DescriptionBorn in New York, USA in 1943. Died in 1978.

Gordon Matta-Clark’s father was the Surrealist Roberto MATTA. After studying French literature at Paris-Sorbonne University and architecture at Cornell University, he worked as an assistant to Dennis OPPENHEIM, then embarked on a career as an artist. Matta-Clark’s early efforts included varied performances that drew numerous other artists into involvement. He later moved on to works in which he cut, removed and exhibited sections of abandoned buildings. These works he documented using photographs and video and actively showed in the form of artist books and other publications.

"Splitting" is a video work documenting the process by which Matta-Clark sliced in half an old singlefamily house in Englewood, New Jersey, tilting its stone foundation to either side to widen the split, and excised the house’s top four corners. "In Day’s End" he cuts an enormous elliptical opening in the metal wall of an abandoned warehouse along an urban waterfront and slices out a fan-shaped section of the floor to expose the river flowing below. Both videos are composed as a sequence of alternating views from inside and outside of the building, showing how the artist’s decisive actions dramatically transform a derelict building into an aesthetically powerful space. Inserted among those views are striking scenes of the lush green surroundings, the expanse of river below the floor, and shafts of brilliant sunlight. Still, as plainly demonstrated by "Cut Drawing" – in which the artist has cut out the overlapping sections of geometric figures – the essence of Matta-Clark’s art lies not in the act of ‘slicing’ or the resulting object but rather in the environment he thereby reveals and his act of abstracting a raw, exposed concept. Our eye wanders back and forth, probing the inexplicable qualities of his pierced space, exploring the threshold of the unknown, and derails into experiences of the unknown. In Matta-Clark’s day, his decisive, post-sculptural methods and his many documentary videos, photos, and publications made waves in the art world. Today they provide evidence of the social situation and systems of that time.