Alchemy and Architecture

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The building has a long history of being an artistic object, but few artists have attempted to use them as a medium. Gordon Matta-Clark was like few artists. In the same manner that Renaissance artists used vivisection to understand the hidden beauty of the human body, Matta-Clark wielded a power saw like a brush, slicing open abandoned buildings to reveal their inner workings. The act of opening up a building's innards was his attempt to "transform place into a state of mind." Inevitably, his sculpted buildings would be razed, as he chose buildings that were already marked for demolition; Matta-Clark saved sections of some of them (these he called "cuts") and made films and photographs of his work prior to their civic demise. A social activist concerned with the fate of abandoned properties — he viewed his work as a way to give objects that had been thrown away new meaning and purpose, as well as new beauty — Matta-Clark and his work are predestined to appeal to a certain type of St. Louisan; sections of our fair city would have been a happy hunting ground indeed for Matta-Clark. Urban Alchemy: Gordon Matta-Clark, a retrospective featuring several of his cuts as well as almost 50 photographs and two of Matta-Clark's films (Fire Child and Conical Intersect), opens with a free public reception from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday, October 30, at Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts (3716 Washington Boulevard; 314-754-1850 or The show remains up through Saturday, June 5. The Pulitzer is open Wednesday and Saturday.
Fri., Oct. 30; Wednesdays, Saturdays. Starts: Oct. 30. Continues through June 5, 2009

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