Have I Reasons

Work and Writings, 1993–2007

Have I Reasons
Book Pages: 288 Illustrations: 128 b&w illustrations Published: March 2008

Subjects
Art and Visual Culture > Art Criticism and Theory, Cultural Studies

Robert Morris, a leading figure in postwar American art, is best known as a pioneer of minimalist sculpture, process art, and earthworks. Yet Morris has resisted affiliation with any one movement or style. An extraordinarily versatile artist, he has produced dances, performance pieces, prints, paintings, drawings, and installations, working with materials including plywood, felt, dirt, aluminum, steel mesh, fiberglass, and encaustic. Throughout his career, Morris has written influential critical essays, commenting on his own work as well as that of other artists, and exploring through text many of the theoretical concerns addressed in his artwork—about perception, materiality, space, and the process of artmaking. Have I Reasons presents seventeen of Morris’s essays, six of which have never been published before. Written over the past fifteen years, the essays, along with the volume’s many illustrations, provide an invaluable record of the recent thought of a major American artist.

The writings are arranged chronologically, beginning with “Indiana Street,” a vivid autobiographical account of the artist’s early years in Kansas City, Missouri. Have I Reasons includes reflections on Morris’s own site-specific installations; transcripts of seminars he conducted in conjunction with exhibitions; and the textual element of The Birthday Boy, the two-screen video-and-sound piece he installed at the Galleria dell’Accademia in Florence, Italy, on the occasion of the five hundredth anniversary of Michelangelo’s David. Essays range from original interpretations of Cézanne’s Mont Sainte-Victoire paintings and Jasper Johns’ early work to engagements with one of Morris’s most significant interlocutors, the philosopher Donald Davidson. Have I Reasons conveys not only Morris’s enduring deep interest in philosophy and issues of resemblance and representation but also his more recent turn toward directly addressing contemporary social and political issues such as corporate excess and preemptive belligerence.

Praise

Have I Reasons is a complex collection of writings. The book challenges the reader on many levels . . . [and] affords an insight into the mind of an influential artist of our time.” — Brontë Coe, M/C Reviews

“[Robert Morris’s] career is most remarkable. And this book provides perhaps the largest reason why; he successfully navigated his way from art making to art theory with the development of a new genre of writing.” — Ben Schacter, Consciousness Literature and the Arts

“Morris has consistently been one of the most well read, articulate, and intensely self conscious artists in the last one hundred years. . . . Readers of Morris’s second volume of writings will be struck by the explicitly political viewpoint of such essays, as well as by the deft handling of philosophy and prose that graces even Morris’s more polemical writing in his old age.” — Melissa Ragain, Criticism

Have I Reasons is the authoritative text for the study of Robert Morris’s later work and for the historical reconsideration of his earlier work. Unrelentingly provocative and entertaining, the writings reflect his wonderfully quirky mind, his gift for narrative, his wide learning and curiosity, and his cool, laconic style combined with mordant outrage and irony.” — W. J. T. Mitchell, editor of Critical Inquiry and author of What Do Pictures Want?


“Robert Morris is one of the most important postwar American artists. Have I Reasons is a valuable resource for an understanding and reconsideration of his work and the postwar neo-avant-garde production in which it played such a pivotal role. Compared to his seminal earlier writings, those from the 1990s and beyond collected here are more insistently autobiographical, more overtly and straightforwardly political. This transformation is one that, at least in part, reflects a transformation in his visual art.” — Branden W. Joseph, author of Random Order: Robert Rauschenberg and the Neo-Avant-Garde


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Robert Morris (b. 1931) is Distinguished Professor of Art History at Hunter College, The City University of New York. His art has been shown around the world, including in retrospectives at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Deichtorhallen in Hamburg, the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, and the Centro per l’arte contemporanea Luigi Pecci in Prato. He has been widely published in periodicals including Artforum, Critical Inquiry, Art in America, and October. His essays from the 1960s through the 1980s are collected in Continuous Project Altered Daily.

Nena Tsouti-Schillinger is an art historian and art critic. She is the author of Robert Morris and Angst.

Robert Morris (b. 1931) is Distinguished Professor of Art History at Hunter College, The City University of New York. His art has been shown around the world, including in retrospectives at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Deichtorhallen in Hamburg, the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, and the Centro per l’arte contemporanea Luigi Pecci in Prato. He has been widely published in periodicals including Artforum, Critical Inquiry, Art in America, and October. His essays from the 1960s through the 1980s are collected in Continuous Project Altered Daily.

Nena Tsouti-Schillinger is an art historian and art critic. She is the author of Robert Morris and Angst.

Table of Contents Back to Top
List of Illustrations vii

Acknowledgments xi

Introduction 1

Indiana Street (1993) 17

Writing with Davidson: Some Afterthoughts after Doing Blind Time IV: Drawing with Davidson (1993) 41

The Art of Donald Davidson (1995) 51

Steam (1995) 61

Professional Rules (1997) 63

Thinking Back about Him: On the Death of Richard Bellamy (1998) 101

Cézanne's Mountains (1998) 103

Size Matters (2000) 121

Threading the Labyrinth (2001) 137

Solecisms of Sight: Specular Speculations (2001) 148

Thoughts on Hegel's Owl (2002) 163

Maybe the Angel in Dürer (2003) 167

From a Chomskian Couch: The Imperialistic Unconscious (2003) 171

Toward an Opthalmology of the Aesthetic and an Orthopedics of Seeing (2004) 186

Notes on Less Than (2004) 203

The Birthday Boy (2004) 205

Jasper Johns: The First Decade (2005) 225

Chronology 257

Bibliography 267

Index 271
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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-4292-2 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-4138-3
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