office Baroque

What’s left from my 3rd year art school paper on office Baroque by Matta-Clark

from one context, that of a “minor” support medium, and adjust to painting and sculpture, to another, that of a major and independent medium with distinctive expressive possibilities altogether its own. (Rose 9)

Through the process of reevaluation and renewal, drawing has established a more independent and expressive ground for its own than it has been before. In other words, drawing not only has been free from the restricted medium of paper, charcoal and ink, but has also gained an equal status in relation to painting, sculpture and architecture. Moreover, this transformation has benefited many artists to work more intuitively than confiningly yet still achieve the sense of completion and sophistication.

One of the well known artists that take advantage of this transformation is Gordon Matta-Clark (1943-78), who is famous of his cut drawings, whether paper cuts drawings or building cut drawings. His building cut projects, specifically office Baroque, especially shows how the transformation of drawing influence the relationship between architecture and drawing in art history.
From 1972 to 1976, Matta-Clark produces series of cut drawings, both on paper and on buildings. These projects illustrate the reevaluated definition of drawing. It is easy to apprehend his paper cuts as drawings, because they are essentially two-dimensional paper works that maintain the conventional presentation of drawings. However, how will one justify Matta-Clark’s building cuts as drawings? As Matta-Clark explains in the video, 14 Americans: direction of the 1970’s, on his last building cuts, office Baroque that each floor is like a layer of drawing for the viewers to participate in and out of it to explore it and experience the inability to view it from one stationary position (video). Matts-Clark rarely uses electronic tools to execute the cuttings. Unless it is necessary to use electronic tools, he always hand saws every ….

… to draw viewer’s eyes to look deep into the “holes”. Historically, especially in the period of Renaissance, all two-dimensional art works are valued according to how well the artists express their draftsman skills in creating illusionistic space on two-dimensional surfaces. Usually, the illusionistic space is established through a “figure-ground” relationship to convince the viewer that it is actually a three-dimensional space and not mere flat image (Rosalind 10). For example, Leonardo De Vinci’s Last Supper, which is painted on the wall in the dinning hall of a church where the monks would have their meals. The mural is supposed to suggest the presence of Jesus and the twelve disciples, and create an illusionistic three-dimensional space off the wall. This shows that the flat mural has to create a very realistic three-dimensional illusionistic space and that it is not just a flat wall but there is another space on the wall. This principle of illusionistic space also appears in office Baroque.

The cut outs on the building expose the hidden structure of the building that are not usually accessible visually. Moreover, because the cut outs are positioned in different areas on each floor, so each layer is visible through the cut outs of the layer on top. (see Fig.2) This also creates very interesting composition from a bird’s eye view when viewing from the roof. Also, the composition within the cut out frames may appear to be fixed, it actually varies relative to different viewing angles. This reflects what Matta-Clark’s statement about the viewer’s experience of exploring in and out of each layer and looking into each hole to discover amusement is also a part of this drawing. Although the hidden structures and layers of floor sections may be tangible and realistic physically in comparison to the made-up scenery in De Vinci’s Last Supper, they are nevertheless illusionistic in the sense that they are unfamiliar to the viewer in their peculiar presentation and existence. Also, even though Matta-Clark…


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