a man climbs a mountain
because it is there
a man makes a work of art
because it is not there
Andre was born in Quincy, Massachusetts and educated in Quincy public schools and at Phillips Academy Andover, where he became friends with Hollis Frampton and Michael Chapman. Andre served in the U.S. Army in North Carolina from 1955-56. He moved to New York City and in 1958 met Frank Stella in whose studio he developed a series of wooden "cut" sculptures.
From 1960-64 Andre worked as freight brakeman and conductor in New Jersey for the Pennsylvania Railroad. In 1965 he had his first public exhibition of work in the "Shape and Structure" show curated by Henry Geldzahler at the Tibor de Nagy Gallery.
Andre's controversial "Lever" was included in the seminal 1966 show at the Jewish Museum in New York entitled, "Primary Structures." In 1970 he had a one man exhibition at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and has had one man exhibitions and participated in group shows in major museums, galleries and kunsthalles throughout America and Europe to the present. Andre's concept of sculpture as "place" is of singular importance to the evolution of his work and to minimalist work in general.
In 1972 the Tate Gallery in London bought his Equivalent VIII (1966), popularly known as "The Bricks", which consists of 120 firebricks arranged in a rectangle, and which was an international succès de scandale. Andre also writes concrete poetry which has been exhibited in the United States and Europe, a comprehensive collection of which is in the collection of the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam. He is represented by the Paula Cooper Gallery, New York.
While he is known primarily for his sculpture, Carl Andre also produced poetry from the early 1950s to the mid 1970s. Andre's poems, which were typed on a manual typewriter or hand-written, can also be read as drawings. They relate directly to the artist's three-dimensional work in that they incorporate the word as a compositional module, much like his signature use of bricks or metal plates. Loosely narrative in structure, the poems often include historical references and traces of autobiography. The poems obliquely evoke character and setting while incorporating various literary forms such as the sonnet, opera, or novel.
In 1988 he was acquitted (found not guilty) of murder in the death of his wife, artist Ana Mendieta.