Robert Morris, 1931–2018

Founding father of American minimalism

Robert Morris, one of the most influential figures in postwar American art, has died at the age of 87. 

In the early 1960s Morris was among an emerging generation of artists based in New York to develop the radically reduced practice that would become known as minimalism. His adoption of the new mode, after starting out as a painter in the 1950s, was neither the first nor the last of series of dramatic stylistic changes that would define a restless career. 

After returning from service in the Korean War he settled in San Francisco in 1956 and married the dancer and choreographer Simone Forti (Morris would later participate in several productions in the famous Judson Dance Theater, though he and Forti divorced in 1962). Morris gained fame after moving to New York and staging two exhibitions at Greene Gallery which caught the attention of Donald Judd, after which Morris helped to define the nascent minimalist movement through a series of influential essays and exhibitions in the second half of the 1960s.

If it was this period that secured Morris's place in art history, then unlike many of his peers, he continued with varying degrees of success to experiment in different forms over the course of his career. As a teacher at Hunter College, New York, he was also influential on new generations of American artists. His work is in the collections of many of the world's most important institutions. 

30 November 2018