Quincy, by Carl Andre

Andre, quincy 1

ANDRE, Carl. [Quincy]. Andover, MA: Addison Gallery of American Art, 1973.

Oblong 8vo; title and exhibition information loosely inserted on a printed leaf; illustrated throughout in black and white; pictorial wrappers; stapled. Fine.

First edition. This book--which accompanied an exhibition but does not reproduce any of the works shown or make specific reference to them--is not a catalog, but rather an essay in images by Andre on the origins of his personal aesthetic. Andre grew up south of Boston in Quincy, Massachusetts, then attended Phillips Academy, in Andover, 35 miles to the north. After graduating from Phillips, Andre spent a short time in college but left school and spent several years developing his taste for heavy industry through first hand experience. He worked in a factory, did a stint in the military, and spent four years as a brakeman and conductor on freight trains before settling in New York and turning to art full-time. Twenty years after graduating, he returned to Phillips (the Addison Gallery is part of the school) where he put on an exhibition entitled Six Alloy Plains and published this book in conjunction with it. Photography had not been a part of Andre’s artistic practice, nor would it figure much in his later work.

The photos were taken in winter with a light blanket of snow on the ground. Andre uses this to his advantage--each object and space is clearly defined in stark black-and-white. Quincy is a working-class town marked by heavy industry and Andre's pictures focus on this side of the town. There are old stone quarries with unused granite blocks strewn about the surrounding lots; heavy iron girders laid out at a work site; and railroad yards, cranes, and transfer stations stacked with logs, lumber, and cable. Headstones and monuments, locally quarried, appear throughout the book, including the wryly humorous cover image: a grave marker reading “Andre.” There are also photos taken in the woodsy outskirts of town, showing small creeks, dirt roads, and footpaths in the forest. Andre famously said that, “my idea of a sculpture is a road,” and the statement resonates here. Given the concerns of Andre’s work-the heaviness, solidity, and specificity of sculptural materials and the ways in which they can be used to define space-it becomes clear that Quincy is an extraordinary combination of autobiography and aesthetic statement.
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