L-Beams by Robert Morris

Who’s the artist? Robert Morris

What am I looking at? Sculptures made of fiberglass and stainless steel

When was it made? 1965 (Modernism)

Where is it right, right now? The Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City


Ok… Why is that so important?

Following minimalism, Post-minimalism is best characterized by Robert Morris’ L-Beams. They are all the same size, but their positioning makes it difficult to recognize their homogeneity (similarity) because of how large they are. These sculptures are meant to bring the viewer’s attention to their own physical presence within the gallery space, in relation to the artwork. 

You can relate this concept to the feeling of “smallness” you might feel when entering a grand palace or a church. The fact that it can be achieved by a single object and not a building is what makes this work so important in contemporary art.

Similarly to Die, the L Beams demonstrate the artist’s ability to impose their will upon the viewer through scale, weight and physical presence within the space. The beams challenge the presence of the viewer through their large size and by extending into the walking space.

About the beams, Morris stated this:

A function of space, light, and the viewer’s field of vision […] for it is the viewer who changes the shape constantly by his change in position relative to the work. […] There are two distinct terms: the known constant and the experienced variable.”

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