Theses Doctoral

“Requestioning” Postminimalism: Gordon Matta-Clark’s Creative Energetics, 1968–72

Fiske, Courtney

This dissertation is a study of the early career of the American architect-turned-artist Gordon Matta-Clark (1943–1978) that spans the years 1968 to 1972. Immersing himself in SoHo’s vibrant artistic community, of which he was both a catalyst and a nexus, Matta-Clark worked through the essential ideas and concerns that would inform his practice during this condensed but incredibly generative four-year period. The works that resulted are heterogeneous, united less by specific media than by a shared constellation of concepts. Foremost among these concepts is energy: a key trope in the cultural, theoretical, and artistic discourses of Matta-Clark’s late-1960s and early-1970s moment. In histories of this period (spurred, in part, by the attention paid to Matta-Clark’s peer, Robert Smithson), energy has often been aligned with entropy: a negative movement that leads to an ultimate stasis. In contrast, Matta-Clark marshaled energy as a creative force: a motor of the "metamorphic" processes that his works both enacted and pursued. By focusing on these four years, my study opens new perspectives on both Matta-Clark’s project and the artistic and discursive formation, Postminimalism, from which it is inextricable. In doing so, I defamiliarize art history’s current conception of Postminimalism, “requestioning” (to adopt Matta-Clark’s neologism) its central term, process, through his creative energetics.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Art History and Archaeology
Thesis Advisors
Joseph, Branden Wayne
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
July 28, 2021