© 2013 Estate of Gordon Matta-Clark/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Splitting 32
Gordon Matta Clark, American, 1943–1978
Gordon Matta Clark, American, 1943–1978

Splitting 32, 1975

Gelatin silver prints, cut and collaged
103.5 x 78.1 cm (40 ¾ x 30 ¾ in.) framed
The Estate of Gordon Matta-Clark and David Zwirner, New York/London
A connoisseur of marginal, neglected spaces, Matta-Clark came to art only after studying architecture at Cornell University in the 1960s. Throughout his career he used this training, perversely, to ruin buildings, not construct them. Matta-Clark’s so-called "building cuts"–in which strategically placed incisions turn structures into vertiginous environments–took place in more than two dozen locations between 1971 and 1978.

Splitting is one of the artist's most dramatic such cuts. In this case, Matta-Clark, with the help of three friends, split in two a condemned house on a blighted street in Englewood. First he used a Sawzall to divide the home along its lateral axis; later, he chiseled away at the cinderblock foundation, eventually tilting one half of the home back, causing the once narrow cleft in its middle to widen and allowing light to pour into the formerly sealed edifice. Splitting survives in the forms of a film, a book, a sculpture, and several photo-collages, most of them designed to reproduce, even exacerbate, the exhilarating, disorienting experience of exploring the altered house in Englewood.

The Fertility of Desolation