Tuesday, 1 February 2011

A Pile Of Bricks

We lie together, huddled in the dust,
as boys and girls and chimney sweepers must.
From such abasement we will never rise,
but in our day we won the Turner Prize.

Equivalent VIII, usually referred to as "The Bricks", is the last and most famous of a series of minimalist sculpture by Carl Andre. Constructed in 1966, it was bought by The Tate Gallery in 1972. The exhibit comprises one-hundred-and-twenty fire bricks, arranged in two layers, in a six-by-ten rectangle. All eight structures in the series have the same height, mass and volume, but different shapes. Thus they are all "equivalent".

When first exhibited at the Tate Gallery at Millbank in 1976, the piece drew much criticism in the press because of the perception that taxpayers' money had been spent on paying an inflated price for a collection of bricks.


"Golden lads and girls all must,
As chimney-sweepers come to dust."



  1. Solid post.

    Solid as well made old bricks!

    Aloha from Honolulu
    Comfort Spiral



  2. Wonderful, Friko.
    When I first saw the photo of the bricks, I knew somewhere in the back of my head there was an appropriate Shakespeare quotation, but I just couldn't bring it to the fore. So glad you knew it.
    -- K

    Kay, Alberta, Canada
    An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

  3. A Turner, you say? Minimilist still around? I like Will's concept best of all..
    this was very wry!!

  4. I don't really understand or appreciate his form of art, either, but realize there are people who do and I am happy the government recognizes they should not fund only the art of which they approve. That's what the Nazi's did.

  5. Really liked this one, Friko. I studied aesthetics for a year at University, and I still don't 'get' some works. But, I'm with Jen, it takes all to make a world.

  6. Yep, art is in the eye of the beholder and in the vision of the artist.

  7. nice...love the verse you open with...its all art you just got to find the perspective...

  8. Like your verse better than the 'art.'

  9. Friko - I learned so much from this post. Wonderful :)

  10. I'm with Vickie. I do not see any art in this. I think the people were conned. I never understood the Andy Warhol tomato soup cans painting either.

  11. How interesting. I would love to tour this gallery some day. I can understand the mixed reviews by critics.

  12. I'd rather use the bricks to build something...great post.

  13. Shakespeare and minimalism, together in a mere 4 lines. Brava!

  14. They look like 1950s London , actually . And this generation , reared in Philippe Starcke sleekness , will view them in museums , rather the way we gawp at Byzantine artifacts .

  15. Interesting art - beauty is definitely in the eye of the beholder, interesting take on the prompt.

  16. I can't tell you how disappointed I was earlier this year when I discovered that I was now too old to be eligible for the Turner Prize!

    I had forgotten about this piece - maybe it needs to be viewed with the other 7 pieces in the series to be fully appreciated?

  17. I grew up with "modern" art, I studied art for a while with a practitioner of minimalist art. I think I understand what minimalist art is getting at, and yet, and yet, is it possible that the emperor is really naked?

  18. Great post. The Shakespeare wraps it up nicely.

  19. Hmm, I can't pretend I understand art. I just like it, or I don't. But I do not understand the price of some art. Although, if someone is willing to pay a certain amount, it must be worth it I guess. How does one determine the value of an idea?

  20. A magnificent job of research
    and art appreciation; snappy,
    demure, haiku-like.
    I had not heard of Carl Andre
    before; thanks for the heads up.
    I remember seeing a photo of
    Picasso's "The Bull", and I said
    to a companion, "Hell, that is
    just some bicycle handlebars,
    and some other junk. I could
    have done that." and she said,
    "Yeah, but you didn't and he did."

  21. I see the photo of the top bricks as art, but not the "sculpture". Wonderful poem and interesting background info, though. Thanks! And thanks for stopping by my place!

  22. Simple art in strange minds. Personally, I would have preferred the bricks in a heap! I'm used to chaos!

  23. Yes, brilliant use of Shakespeare.

    Did you know that Andre's wife, Ana Mendieta, was an artist, that she created impressions of her body in earth and other organic materials, and that she died by falling 34 stories to the segmented sidewalk below? Carl Andre was tried and acquitted of her murder.

    (I'm one of those weirdos who likes his art)

  24. Provocative post, to be sure. I love your post - it sings of 'to each his own'!

  25. Lovely verse, and an interesting story. I'd never heard of these. Thanks for sharing.

  26. I never become tired of the question "What is art?" I can argue either side of it with absolute ease, especially after a glass or two of wine.

  27. über Kunst lässt sich streiten. Für manche Dinge habe ich einfach keinen Sinn... Sorry!
    Dir einen wunderschönen Tag, liebe Friko!


  28. I don't value it ,
    but I value that someone else might.

  29. you are always interesting
    I too learned much from this magpie
    was it worth the taxpayers paying for it
    nah..but is it art..sure why not

  30. Love the minimalist concepts... art... hmmm...

  31. i guess i'm a funny sort. i prefer the close-up shot of the texture of the bricks to the sculpture. but this is one of the great things about all things creative, so many different forms to appeal to so many tastes.

  32. Okay, I am going to be the barbarian. I like the shot of the brick walk which is beginning to look like mine, or I should say, mine is looking like yours? I don't care for the "stack of bricks" and cannot be talked into liking it either. All I can think of is how the tax dollars could have been better spent.

    I do like the quatrain, which cannot be Shakespeare as he lived long before Turner began to paint. I suspect one of the Victorian poets penned this verse, or perhaps Friko did it?
    Anyway, the couplet at the end is defintely the Bard. Dianne

  33. It took me till I was in my fifties before I started to really think when I looked at modern art. Your post, quote and the comments help to further me along, as it were.

  34. positive and fun perspective of the bricks.

  35. Has anybody read "The Emperor's New Clothes"?...


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