Saturday, December 3, 2011

Robert Morris's "Card File," 1962

Once upon a time while researching Herbert Distel's Museum of Drawers, I read about Robert Morris's Card File but was never able to find a decent reproduction of it until today. From Phaidon's "Themes and Movements" publication on Conceptual Art:

“First exhibited in 1963 at the Green Gallery, New York, Card File is a vertically mounted wall file of alphabetically indexed cards which record the steps the artist followed in the conception and making of the work. The cards range across quite different categories of thought and action which are randomly systemized, as evidenced by the sequence of labels, such as “Index; Interruptions; Locations; Losses; Materials; Mistakes; Names; Number: Owners; Possibilities; Prices; Purchases; Recoveries: Repetition” and so on. One the cards themselves are typed an assortment of remarks that indicate the artist’s thought processes and chance circumstances which contributed to the process. Thus we are informed of where Morris bought the cards, that he lost some of them, rediscovered them, conceived the work in the New York Public Library, was interrupted by the artist Ad Reinhardt, and so on.”

I've always been fascinated by process and I like the concept behind this work, however, I keep thinking it has to be experienced to fully understand it. It does have a detective-like quality about the making of an artwork - informing the viewers on every aspect of the creation process. The sheer act of recording all of this information ultimately becomes the most interesting part of Card File.

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