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Cuts: Texts 1959-2004

BOOK REVIEW

By Carl Andre.

Edited by James Meyer.

MIT Press, 2005.

317pp. £29.99

Carl Andre once styled himself a poet and his 'planes' (the neologism he chose for his concrete poetry) are a fitting partner for his sculpture - as this collection of his writings, statements and interviews reveals. But Andre himself admits that he never felt comfortable writing prose and, as James Meyer hints in his introduction, he isn't really in a league with the great artist-writers of the 1960s - Robert Smithson, Donald Judd or Dan Graham. He can be pithy, and just a little obscure: the shortest text here runs just DOGMA: I: AMGOD.

The publication of many artists' writings is occasioned by a mixture of vanity and academic curiosity, and this is no different. It's a window on Andre the sculptor, not Andre the writer. It covers diverse topics, with many of his responses to other artists, but it can be disappointing.

Turn to his piece on Bernd and Hilla Becher and one finds a very bald description of their photography; his thoughts on Duchamp are half-formed, stunted by his vulgarised Marxism; and the text Meyer highlights as historically important, his preface to Frank Stella's path-breaking 1959 'stripe paintings', is rather short.

Nevertheless, with Andre's reminiscences of childhood, transcriptions of several good interviews, and rich illustrations, one still learns more from these texts than from many museum catalogues.

Morgan Falconer is a writer in London. Carl Andre's latest work is at Sadie Coles HQ, 35 Heddon St, London W1 until 22 April

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