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Splitting 10 & 11, 1975
Private collection, New Jersey/ Private collection, New Jersey,
©Estate of Gordon Matta-Clark, Photo: Sheldan C. Collins

That's also what Matthew Barney finds fascinating about him. Gordon also spent a lot of time finding sponsors for his work. What would he say about Deutsche Bank sponsoring this exhibition at the Whitney Museum?

People accused Gordon of being a rich man's son, but that wasn't true. Matta wasn't sending a stream of money. The incredible thing about the Deutsche Bank sponsorship was seeing how Gary Hattem, President of the Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation, was so in tune with what Gordon tried to achieve and what his life represented. Hattem not only understood the exhibition, he was quietly messianic about it. I was blown away by Deutsche Bank's commitment to the project.

Gordon Matta-Clark working on the house in
Englewood, New Jersey, used for Splitting, 1974
Courtesy of Gordon Matta-Clark and David Zwirner, New York

Among Gordon's early sponsors were the art dealer Holly Solomon and her husband, Horace Solomon, the bobby-pin magnate. They sponsored Splitting in 1974 at 322 Humphrey Street in Englewood, New Jersey, where Gordon cut a house in half.

The house belonged to Horace's family and was slated to be demolished. Gordon had just cut a house in Genoa in 1973. But in 1969, Gordon had performed in Robert Wilson's The Life and Times of Sigmund Freud, in which Wilson apparently split a wall on stage.

Gordon Matta-Clark in Robert Wilsons
The Life and Times of Sigmund Freud, 1969
Photo: Martin Bough Images

In the film Splitting, 1974, we see Gordon dividing the house. How did he know it wouldn't collapse?

Structurally, he couldn't be sure. He originally wanted to make a narrow split using a sawmill saw. When he made the split wider, he talked to Bernard Kirschenbaum, who was part of the Anarchitecture group. Kirschenbaum had worked with Buckminster Fuller on the geodesic domes, so Gordon asked him technical questions, such as what would happen if he removed the foundation blocks to make the crack bigger. Kirschenbaum reassured him. They held the house on jacks while they removed the blocks. It must have been terrifying.

Gordon Matta-Clark
"You are the Measure," Retrospective
Continues through June 3
Whitney Museum of American Art
945 Madison Avenue, New York

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