Dike is a work with a simple structure and rough appearance: a compact palisade formed by twenty-five chunks of red cedar which block the space and shut off one of the entrances to the room. Most of Carl Andre's works can be defined in relation to the concepts of time and space. He has almost always created his works in situ (perhaps that is why he has never had a studio), each one conceived for a particular spatial context, which is why the relation with a specific space is inherent to his sculpture. Dike was created for a particular spatial situation, at a monographic exhibition of his works in wood at the Stedelijk van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven in 1978. Although the dimensions of the piece are determined by the room where it was built, its form and meaning do not change when it is placed elsewhere. Because, although Andre prefers to work with a particular space in mind, his works are conceived for generic ones: "It's not really a problem where a work is going to be in particular," he has said. Dike divides and changes an existing space, but it is its particular position in that space that determines the meaning and what creates and defines a place. Another important aspect of the work is its formal and material composition. It fulfils the essential characteristics of Andre's sculpture: modular system, reduction of the formal vocabulary to basic geometrical configurations such as the line, industrial material (in this case, pieces of wood used in building) and the spatial structure of a place. However, in spite of that apparent austerity and uniformity, in this work—as in many others of his—we can appreciate a special sensibility. In the spatial context created by Dike, with its rectilinear, sequential layout, the wooden barrier becomes intensely expressive. Indeed, the twenty-five chunks, all the same size and placed side by side, form a unitary structure, a compact mass which, in spite of presenting a uniform, imposing character, is not lacking a certain sensuality. Andre chose red cedar not only for its stability (it is highly appreciated for its long-lasting quality), but also for the colour, fragrance and texture. For him it has always been important to reveal the properties of the materials he uses. His modular forms are never identical, which is not the case in the works of other Minimalist artists. Each chunk of wood has a different colour and texture, and although he has not intervened on their form, he has allowed nature and time to operate on them. Because of ageing and drying, the wood splits and opens, exercising a different action in each unit. "My works are in a constant state of change. I'm not interested in reaching an ideal state with my works [...] as the materials weather, the work becomes its own record of everything that's happened to it."
Works that may interest you