Out of Architecture, Out of the Archive: The Voice of Gordon Matta-Clark

Date: Friday, March 10, 1:30 p.m.-2:30 p.m.

Location: The Pit, Architecture Building, Carleton University




Gwendolyn Owens and Philip Ursprung, the editors of a new book, Gordon Matta-Clark: An Archival Sourcebook, will discuss the motivation and process of making accessible Gordon Matta-Clark’s voice. They will also talk about how to deal with sources, what is an archive, and the reasons for writing another book on Gordon Matta Clark.



About the Book


An essential reference that provides new understanding of the thought processes of one of the most radical artists of the late twentieth century.


Gordon Matta-Clark (1943–1978) has never been an easy artist to categorize or to explain. Although trained as an architect, he has been described as a sculptor, a photographer, an organizer of performances, and a writer of manifestos, but he is best known for un-building abandoned structures. In the brief span of his career, from 1968 to his early death in 1978, he created an oeuvre that has made him an enduring cult figure.


In 2002, when Gordon Matta-Clark’s widow, Jane Crawford, put his archive on deposit at the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal, it revealed a new voice in the ongoing discussion of artist/architect Matta-Clark’s work: his own. Gwendolyn Owens and Philip Ursprung’s careful selection and ordering of letters, interviews, statements, and the now-famous art cards from the CCA as well as other sources deepens our understanding of one of the most original thinkers of his generation. Gordon Matta-Clark: An Archival Sourcebook creates a multidimensional portrait that provides an opportunity for readers to explore and enjoy the complexity and contradiction that was Gordon Matta-Clark.


Gwendolyn Owens, Director of Curatorial Affairs, Visual Arts Collection, McGill University, is responsible for the university’s wide-ranging and expanding collection, which now includes more than 3,400 works of art. She is interested in subjects that cross boundaries: art and architecture, art and urban planning, art and forest history, art and economics, art and food, and art and science. Owens has previously held curatorial positions at the university museums at Cornell University, Williams College, the University of Maryland, and the Canadian Centre for Architecture. Her scholarly publications include articles, exhibition catalogues, and books on a wide range of topics, including artist-architect Gordon Matta-Clark, mid-nineteenth century American landscape painting; painters Maurice Prendergast and David Milne; Montreal artist and architect Melvin Charney; art markets in the 20th century; and kitchen wallpaper in Canada. She is currently researching the work of Marian Dale Scott.

Philip Ursprung  is Professor of the History of Art and Architecture at ETH Zurich. From 2017 to 2019 he served as Dean of the Department. He taught at Universität der Künste Berlin, Columbia University New York, Cornell University and the University of Zurich. He conducted several research projects, among them “17 Volcanos: Tourism and Urbanisation” at the Future Cities Laboratory in Singapore.

He is editor of Herzog & de Meuron: Natural History (Montréal CCA 2002) and, with Wendy Owens, Gordon Matta-Clark: An Archival Sourcebook (Univ. of California Press, 2022). He author of Allan Kaprow, Robert Smithson, and the Limits to Art (Berkeley, University of California Press 2013). His most recent book is Joseph Beuys: Kunst Kapital Revolution (Munich, C.H. Beck, 2021).

With Karin Sander he was selected to represent Switzerland at the Architecture Biennale in Venice in 2023. Their exhibition “Neighbours” will open May 20, 2023.