One of the most versatile American artists, Robert Morris creates works that range from Neo-Expressionist paintings to Minimalist sculptures to Earth art.
Further, he has explored dance and performance in his quest to examine the relationship between viewer and object. By inhabiting different genres, adopting diverse styles, and working with a multitude of materials, Morris examines the exchange between the observer and the observed across the entire spectrum of the arts. Morris is never content to produce a beautiful object.
Stubbornly intellectual, he creates art that involves an exercise in perception and behavior for the viewer. Since he felt that modern galleries resist any meaningful interaction with space, Morris created an installation at the Louisiana Museum in Denmark that deployed mirrors and beams to restructure the environment. The result was a fragmented labyrinth that challenged perception and orientation, and called attention to how we live and move in space. Morris does not see space as a neutral medium for housing art objects; instead, he wants to make space problematic. As he states: “I would like to float out the notion of an interrogative space, questionable as this might be, so that when the examples of the art appear they are coated or infected with a kind of question-like aspect.”
In 1965, Morris arranged three gray, L-shaped plywood beams on the floor in different positions. The beams were identical, but the viewer was persuaded to perceive them as different. His Earth art changed the appearance of natural features of the landscape, creating new environments that demanded new behavior. In each case, Morris’ arrangement of space questions how space, objects, and perception interrelate to form an aesthetic experience.
Morris does not provide answers; he’s interested in the kinds of answers he can generate from viewers. He once wrote: “It is as if I wanted to say that my actions in making art fell on the side of the question rather than of the statement.”