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LE BAL : Harry Gruyaert by Brice Matthieussent


Brice Matthieussent : When did you go to New York for the first time?

Harry Gruyaert : In 1968. […] In Manhattan, I encountered again Richard Nonas, an American sculptor I met in Paris, who became a great friend. I stayed three or four months in New York, in Trisha Brown’s loft, where Richard was staying at that time. He helped me meet a lot of artists, including Gordon Matta-Clark, who also became a friend. Together with Gordon and the sculptor Richard Serra, Richard Nonas was part of the “Anarchitecture” group. We also saw the sculptor Mark di Suvero a lot.


BM : Gordon used some of your negatives to make his own images?

HG : Yes. I never really documented Richard’s work, because he was very good at it, he made books with his images of his own work. It’s a bit like Brancusi, who also produced the best photos of his sculptures. It was the opposite with Gordon, because he worked constantly in the buildings he was digging holes, splitting, cutting, excavating. He could take a few pictures, but not many, he didn’t have time. I photographed him during his interventions in New York, Paris or Antwerp, then I gave him my negatives, my Kodachromes and the rest. And he, in a very intelligent way, bought a big enlarger where he could put several negatives, he cut in the negatives as he cut in the buildings and he made photomontages from these cut negatives. Sometimes by mixing them with images from another source.


BM : I have just read this account by Laurie Anderson in a catalog devoted to Gordon Matta-Clark: “In the early seventies, I often visited Richard Nonas and curiously we always ended the evening at Gordon’s. »

HG : Exactly. In New York, everyone knew each other at the time. They were a band of artists and friends. I have an incredible story from that time. Gordon had a half-brother, Ramuntcho, whom I met later. I saw him again in Paris, he wanted to buy one of my  picture, he then told me that he would put it in place of a piece by Gordon and asked me to come to his house. I went there for the first time and I saw the photo he was talking about: it was taken in Antwerp, one of the last important interventions of Gordon, I had not made made the color picture, it is me in the photo, in the hole dug by Gordon, who I’m probably talking to; another photographer took this image.


Text taken from the book Harry Gruyaert (PAR) Brice Matthieussent to be published by Editions André Frère in August 2023.

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