Robert Morris is an American sculptor, conceptual artist and writer born on February 9th, 1931 in Kansa City, MO. Morris studied sculpture at Hunter College in New York, graduating in 1963. Morris was inspired by abstract expressionism, in particular the work of Jackson Pollock. One of his early works titled Steam (1967), consisting of a steam cloud continuously rising from a block of rocks became seen as a very early example of Land art. During his artistic career, Robert Morris become one of the central figures in minimalism, process art and land art. In the mid 1960s he created sculpture that are now the exemplars of minimalism. In 1966 his essay “Notes on Sculpture” was one of the first to provide a basis for minimalist sculpture. His minimalist sculpture consisted of repeated geometric forms, most of his sculptures consisted of industrial or building materials, one of his well-known ones being Untitled (L-Beams) (1965 refabricated 1970). Morris’s L-Beams sculpture consists of three L shaped beams that are identical in shape and size however they appear different from on another based on their varying orientations and relationships to the ground. This effect is heightened as the viewer moves around his sculpture with an increasing relationship of the sculpture to the viewer’s bodily position. The repeated elements in Morris’s L-Beams rejects the traditional art notion of meaningfulness and originality as its forms invoke the processes of manufacturing.
In the late 1960s Morris started making process art, a personal favorite of mine. Morris repetitively cut up everyday objects, most commonly felt and let them drop how they wanted to. In a series of work, Morris hung up objects from the wall to investigate the effects of stress on materials due to the force of gravity as seen in his Untitled (1967-8, remade 2008). The materials Morris utilized for his sculptures were commercially fabricated for him according to his specifications. I enjoy the way that Robert Morris lets his material fall naturally and the resulting drooping, organic shape of his sculpture. Apart from process sculpture, Morris also made process drawings by drawing using his fingers. One of favorite of Morris’s sculpture is his Gypsy Moth (2016), the use of a stark red colour is so simple yet so satisfying to look at.
Now at age 86, Morris is still making at and revisiting ideas in his earlier work. His latest felt sculptures include cut outs of provocative words like “paranoid” seen in Gypsy Moth.