Magnesium Copper Plain

Carl Andre

Quincy, Massachusetts, USA, 1935
  • Date: 
  • Material: 
    Magnesium and copper
  • Descriptive technique: 
    Work consisting of thirty-six pieces of magnesium and copper, alternating eighteen pieces of each metal, laid in an overlapping fashion on the floor
  • Dimensions: 
    Overall: 0,5 x 181,9 x 181,9 cm / Each part: 30,5 x 30,5 cm, thickness: 0,5 cm
  • Category: 
    Sculpture, Installation
  • Entry date: 
  • Register number: 

Carl Andre’s work stemmed from a constructivist concept defined by the artist in the early 1960s as “the generation of overall designs by the multiplication of the qualities of the individual constituent elements“. Working from multipliable modules such as bricks, wood blocks or metal plates, Andre built up a concept of sculpture as place, in which the works were based on geometrical units without a trace of the figure and were reflexive, showing no sign of any human or subjective authorial intervention. From 1966, Andre applied these principles to the production of floor structures using metal plates, such as Field, Equivalents, and other works built from steel or aluminium plates. The following year he introduced the idea of alternating materials such as zinc, steel, lead, copper and marble in a single work. These works included Magnesium Copper Plain, comprising 36 square plates alternating between magnesium and copper. The work deals with the idea that the material’s actual colour is an integral part of itself, a concept that highlights Minimalism’s focus on shapes as self-contained, with no latent content. Art historian Lucy Lippard’s take on the concept was that “a sculpture painted gray is more ‘colored’ than a gray stone sculpture.” The work was part of the major installation at the New York Guggenheim in 1970, entitled 37th Piece of Work.

Carmen Fernández Aparicio