Retrospective

From the Archives: Jill Johnston on Robert Morris, in 1965

Robert Morris's Gypsy Moth is currently on view at Castelli Gallery.©2017 ARTISTS RIGHTS SOCIETY (ARS), NEW YORK/COURTESY THE ARTIST AND CASTELLI GALLERY, NEW YORK

Robert Morris’s Gypsy Moth is currently on view at Castelli Gallery.

©2017 ARTISTS RIGHTS SOCIETY (ARS), NEW YORK/COURTESY THE ARTIST AND CASTELLI GALLERY, NEW YORK

On view now at New York’s Castelli Gallery are two shows of new felt pieces by Robert Morris, the veteran artist whose career has ranged through Minimalism, Conceptualism, Post-Minimalism, and other, more idiosyncratic aesthetic concerns. Meanwhile, at the Grey Art Gallery, one of Morris’s pieces from the ’60s—Untitled (Gloves in Glass Case), in which a pair of gloves are displayed alongside their imprint in a block of plaster—can be seen through Saturday at “Inventing Downtown: Artist-Run Galleries in New York City, 1952–1965.” Morris’s piece was initially on view at Green Gallery; Jill Johnston’s review of that show follows below. For more articles about “Inventing Downtown,” consult the Retrospective that appears in our Winter 2016 issue.

Robert Morris, Untitled (Gloves in Glass Case), 1963.COURTESY CASTELLI GALLERY, NEW YORK

Robert Morris, Untitled (Gloves in Glass Case), 1963.

NICHOLAS PAPANANIAS/COURTESY CASTELLI GALLERY, NEW YORK

“Reviews and previews”
By Jill Johnston
May 1965

Robert Morris [Green] returned in his second show this season, to the more ideational aspect of his work. Related to the big grey geometric volumes of his last show are four boxes, 2 feet square, covered with mirrors and set in square formation on the floor several feet apart. Otherwise the new pieces contain the objects and imprints and cryptic personal images familiar from his small boxes and plaques of two years ago. Now they are incidents in an expanse of hammered lead or polished scrap-metal. A huge wall piece has been covered with sculpt-metal and sanded for a textured sheen, interrupted on one large side only by a ball of twine set in an aperture between two metal plates. On the other side a piece of rope is stretched across a rectangular aperture, a padlock as an impression under the pressure of a lead plate; in another hole hang lead facsimiles of an envelope and notebook pages with incised writings referring to instructions for the piece, and the lower right center has been torn off to reveal a dangling lead object and half of a circular brush. The major incidents of another large wall piece are the rough imprints of arms and hangs. Below, in three square sections, are a fossil imprint, a lead plate over a pair of gloves and a photograph of another Morris piece. Two lead-covered 6-foot bars, about a foot apart, contain deep impressions of hand-holds and foot-holds. Morris establishes a geometric stance as a kind of façade-like receptable for private or public objects that are hidden or exposed in various ways.

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