Gordon Matta-Clark. Sketch from spiral-bound sketchbook including drawings for Fresh Air Cart, arrow-drawings, and other projects, 1971. Black marker and graphite on paper, 28.2 x 21.5 cm. CCA Collection. PHCON2002:0016:031-B. Gift of Estate of Gordon Matta-Clark © Estate of Gordon Matta-Clark / SODRAC

Gordon Matta-Clark. Unfinished projects, South America, 1972. Contact sheet with black, red and blue marker. 10.5 x 29.0 cm. CCA Collection. PHCON2002:0016:011:004. Gift of Estate of Gordon Matta-Clark. © Estate of Gordon Matta-Clark / SODRAC

Letter from Gordon Matta-Clark to K. J. Geirlandt, Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels, 2 February 1976. Carbon copy of a typescript letter, 27.9 x 21.6 cm. CCA Collection. PHCON2002:0016:003:032. Gift of Estate of Gordon Matta-Clark.© Estate of Gordon Matta-Clark / SODRAC

Download the essay, "The Gordon Matta-Clark Archive at the Canadian Centre for Architecture," by Louise Désy and Gwendolyn Owens

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While the work of Gordon Matta-Clark defies easy categorization, his ideas have exerted increasing influence on architects and visual artists during the decades following his death in 1978. His Garbage Wall (1970) was a sculpture born of a performance piece, and his cuttings in buildings, such as Bronx Floors (1972–1973), were sections of abandoned buildings cut out for exhibition in a gallery. He started the restaurant Food in 1971 with other artists as a place for artists to cook inexpensive meals for each other and neighborhood workers. Food became a kind of performance piece, and helped change the economy of lower Manhatten when socialites and art collectors began coming to Soho to eat at Food and meet artists. His major building cuts made between 1973 and 1978 – including Splitting, A W-Hole House, Conical Intersect, Day’s End, Bingo, and Office Baroque – brought notice from a wide circle of critics and artists.

The Gordon Matta-Clark Archive, now on deposit at the CCA, was carefully collected and preserved by Jane Crawford, the artist’s widow. It documents a whole life, not simply professional activities, and includes material relating to both built and unrealised projects between 1970 and 1978 –the period of Matta-Clark’s short but prolific career. Organized chronologically, the archive includes correspondence, drawings, notes, photographs, notebooks, photographic slides, negatives, films, as well as Matta-Clark’s library, copies of published reviews, audiotapes of interviews, and films by others documenting his work. Some of his artwork, notably Fried Photo (1969) and a set of photographs for the Anarchitecture project (1973), is housed at CCA along with documentary material. In addition, the CCA holds an archive covering Matta-Clark’s beginnings, with juvenilia (drawings, letters, sculpture, and photographs), as well as family letters. Crawford also collected posthumous material on exhibitions, reviews, and publications dating from 1979 to the present. The CCA’s holdings have been further enriched by the purchase of the photographs and drawings for the major project A W-Hole House (1973) and a complete set of Matta-Clark’s finished films.