Contributions by Carl Andre, Meg O’Rourke, Caroline Weber, Lynn Zelevansky, Thea Westreich
The catalogue Ornament and Crime accompanies the group exhibition curated by Meg O’Rourke at Eykyn Maclean in New York (May 2–June 15, 2018). With Adolf Loos’s eponymous 1908 diatribe against excessive ornamentation as its guide, the exhibition draws on the tenets set forth by Loos—simplicity, purity, freedom—with particular attention to their philosophical implications and their persistence into the latter twentieth century. The catalogue traces a genealogy of form from the dogmatism of Loos and Piet Mondrian; to the experimental systems of Yves Klein, the Zero group, and Ad Reinhardt; and finally, to the austere formalism of Minimalism and Arte Povera. When superficial surfaces and superfluous decorations are stripped away, the unknown is opened up—into the void, that is, what lies beyond the surface; down to the elemental, a deeper engagement with material that exceeds mere abstraction; and toward the eternal, where aesthetic asceticism points toward spiritual and psychic transcendance. The texts comprise an introduction by Meg O’Rourke, an historical essay by Lynn Zelevansky, a creative abecedarium by Caroline Weber, and an interview with Carl Andre conducted by O’Rourke and Thea Westreich. They offer historical context and draw out the resonances between the artworks represented, which are included here in full-color standalone and installation views.