Hawkinson’s larger pieces are presented in a similar fashion as some of the minimalist artist’s Robert Morris. Morris’ installations at the Green Gallery and his L beams are presented in a way so that the viewer can walk in and around the art. Pieces such as Überorgan and Pentecost (see fig. 3) are installed in the gallery and viewers walk around and underneath the pieces, much like the Green Gallery and L Beam pieces. There are no velvet ropes or pedestals for many of Tim Hawkinson’s works of art, but oddly enough Überorgan is so large that it would be near impossible to rope it off and it’s size is only limited by the dimensions of the building itself.
A brief history of Robert Morris:
Initially a painter, Morris’ work of the 1950s was influenced by Abstract Expressionism and particularly Jackson Pollock. While living in California, Morris also came into contact with the work of La Monte Young and John Cage. The idea that art making was a record of a performance by the artist (drawn from Hans Namuth’s photos of Pollock at work) in the studio led to an interest in dance and choreography. During the 1950s, Morris thus grew interested in dance while living in San Francisco with his wife, the dancer and choreographer Simone Forti. Morris moved to New York in 1960 where he staged a performance based on the exploration of bodies in space in which an upright square column after a few minutes on stage falls over. Morris developed the same idea into his first Minimal Sculptures Two Columns shown in 1961, and L Beams (1965).
In New York, Morris began to explore the work of Marcel Duchamp making pieces that directly responded to Duchamp’s (Box with the Sound of its Own Making (1961), Fountain (1963)). In 1963 he had an exhibition of Minimal sculptures at the Green Gallery in New York that was written about by Donald Judd. The following year, also at Green Gallery, Morris exhibited a suite of large-scale polyhedron forms constructed from 2 x 4s and gray-painted plywood. In 1964 Morris devised and performed two celebrated performance artworks 21.3 in which he lip syncs to a reading of an essay by Erwin Panofsky and Site with Carolee Schneemann. Morris enrolled at Hunter College in New York (his masters thesis was on the work ofBrancusi) and in 1966 published a series of influential essays “Notes on Sculpture” in Artforum. He exhibited two L Beams in the seminal 1966 exhibit, “Primary Structures” at the Jewish Museum in New York.
In 1967 Morris created Steam, an early piece of Land Art. By the late 1960s Morris was being featured in museum shows in America but his work and writings drew criticism from Clement Greenberg. His work became larger scale taking up the majority of the gallery space with series of modular units or piles of earth and felt. Untitled (Pink Felt) (1970), for example, is composed of dozens of sliced pink industrial felt pieces that have been dropped on the floor. In 1971 Morris designed an exhibition for the Tate Gallery that took up the whole central sculpture gallery with ramps and cubes. He published a photo of himself dressed in S&M gear in an advertisement in Artforum, similar to one by Lynda Benglis, with whom Morris had collaborated on several videos.
He created the Robert Morris Observatory in the Netherlands, a “modern Stonehenge”, which identifies the solstices and the equinoxes. It is at coordinates 52°32’58″N 5°33’57″E.
During the later 1970s Morris switched to figurative work, a move that surprised many of his supporters. Themes of the work were often fear of nuclear war. During the 1990s returned to his early work supervising reconstructions and installations of lost pieces.