Lot 47
  • 47

CARL ANDRE | Lead-Lead Plain

1,500,000 - 2,000,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Carl Andre
  • Lead-Lead Plain
  • lead 
  • 72 by 72 by 3/8 in. 183.5 by 183.5 by 1 cm.
  • Executed in 1969, this work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity issued by the artist in 1970.


Collection of the artist
Stephen Antonakos and Naomi Spector, New York
Private Collection, Germany
Acquired by the present owner from the above in 1995


New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; and St. Louis, St. Louis Art Museum, Carl Andre, September - November 1970
Dallas, Janie C. Lee Gallery, Plains Cu Pb Mg Zn, 1972
New York, L&M Arts, Elemental Form, October - December 2006, pp. 54-55, illustrated in color


Exh. Cat., Bern, Kunsthalle Bern, Carl Andre: Sculpture 1958-1974, p. 51, no. 71 (text)
Exh. Cat., Amsterdam, Haags Gemeentemuseum Den Haag (and travelling), Carl Andre, 1987, p. 48, no. 74 (text) 

Catalogue Note

Lead-Lead Plain from 1969 stands as the ultimate testament to Carl Andre’s singular and defining role within the course of Modern and Contemporary sculpture. A seminal example of Andre’s iconic Squares from the most important decade of his career, the present work eloquently demonstrates the repetition of form and clarity of material which typify his groundbreaking oeuvre. Describing the radical candor of Andre’s conceptual project and resultant forms, one scholar describes: “No more artifice. No more glue. Only material that he could handle himself. No monumentality, which does not mean no monuments. No more narrative unfolded through matter. Sculpture was moved to its material edge. Space and matter were the smallest common denominators of sculpture, the only necessary ones.” (Philippe Vergne, “Carl Andre and Alden Carr: The Sculptor, the Poet, and the Forger” in Exh. Cat., New York, Dia Art Foundation, Carl Andre: Sculpture as Place, 1958—2010, 2014, p. 231) Articulated in 36 discrete elements, painstakingly arranged within 6 ordered rows of 6 squares each, the veracity of Andre’s forms serves as enduring monument to Minimalism, a movement he pioneered; simultaneously, by inviting viewers to cross and consider the sculpture themselves, Lead-Lead Plain achieves a unique participatory dimension that is entirely unprecedented within the art historical canon. Following its execution, the present work was acquired by pioneering neon artist Stephen Antonakos, a contemporary of Andre’s and fellow Minimalist. Upon the opening of the artist's 1970 Guggenheim retrospective, Andre insisted that in place of a formal reception for the show, admission fees would be suspended on the first day, effectively democratizing the experience of his art within the hallowed halls of a major cultural institution; echoing the spirit of that gesture, Lead-Lead Plain is an enduring testament to the central and radical importance of the viewer within Andre’s groundbreaking sculptural practice. Initiated in the late 1960s, Andre’s first, pivotal ground works represent a landmark moment within the development of twentieth century sculpture. Discarding expectations of verticality, representational forms, or even pedestals that have defined centuries of a canonical tradition, Andre’s composition instead seeks formal elegance within scrupulous simplicity; seemingly elementary in gesture yet radical in vision, these sleek metallic compositions reconfigure our conception of sculpture in their unprecedented placement upon the floor. Asked to describe the impetus behind his sculptures on the occasion of his first solo exhibition at Tibor de Nagy Gallery, New York in 1965, Andre stated a single, central aim: “to seize and hold the space of that gallery.” (The artist cited in Anne Rorimer, “Ground Rules” in Ibid., p. 281) Indeed, arranged neatly before the viewer in a delicate yet insistent grid, Lead-Lead Plain irrefutably manifests itself within the viewer’s lived experience, investigating and describing the space in which it exists. Although its strict economy of means invokes the Minimalist tradition of such sculptors as Donald Judd and Sol LeWitt, Lead-Lead Plain enacts a more fundamental challenge to tradition than that of his contemporaries: unlike Judd and LeWitt, whose sculptures investigate the essential terms and means of sculptural objects, Andre’s floor-bound forms confront the very concept of sculpture as hallowed object itself. Reflecting upon Andre’s unique and pivotal place within art history, one scholar describes: “Incontestably, Andre is a primary founder of Minimal art, whose reductive principles he helped to establish along with Donald Judd, Sol LeWitt, Robert Morris, and Anne Truitt, among other prominent figures. Less obvious, however, is the affinity Andre’s Squares have with works by an overlapping generation of artists generally classified under the rubric of Conceptual art…In its all-encompassing redefinition of sculpture, Andre’s work stands at the threshold between—or at the crossroads of—Minimalism’s adherence to the production of material objects and Conceptualism’s project to do away with palpable materiality.”  (Anne Rorimer, “Ground Rules” in Ibid., p. 282) Rather than express or reference forms within space, Andre’s sculptures express the very space itself: allowing viewers to walk over, around, and within them, Lead-Lead Plain intervenes with our experience of the environment we ourselves occupy. His reorientation of sculpture upon the horizontal plane, where it functions as place, rather than object, has had an extraordinary and lasting influence upon the development of twentieth century art; as described by sculptor Richard Serra, whose monumental freestanding metal sculptures likewise invite interaction with the viewer, notes: “He changed the history of sculpture.” (Richard Serra cited in Calvin Tomkins, “The Materialist,” The New Yorker, November 27, 2011, n.p.) In his abandonment of preconceived sculptural norms, Andre’s project is perhaps best aligned with that of his predecessor, Constantin Brancusi, whose radical forms likewise interrogated the weighty expectations of tradition. Reflecting upon the affinity between the two, one scholar concludes: “If Constantin Brancusi literally took sculpture off the pedestal, Andre figuratively took Brancusi off his pedestal by fully and uncompromisingly assuming his legacy, and all the consequences of his legacy, with respect and radicality.” (Philippe Vergne, “Carl Andre and Alden Carr: The Sculptor, the Poet, and the Forger” in Ibid., p. 231)