BEYOND THE STREETS & CONTROL Gallery are presenting a major exhibition curated by Roger Gastman from the photographic archives of the late artist Gordon Matta-Clark: EXHIBITION 010: GRAFFITI ARCHIVE 1972/73 offers an unprecedented glimpse into the raw, untamed world of New York City’s graffiti scene during the pivotal years of 1972 and 1973. The exhibition features more than 200 carefully selected photographs, many of which are on the display for the first time publicly.

Gordon Matta-Clark was aged 29 In the summer of 1972, when he began to photograph the burgeoning graffiti movement in New York City. As a lifelong downtown New Yorker, he had seen the city before graffiti, something that was not the case for the many artists who as young adults flocked to New York in the early 1970s.

Matta-Clark’s native New Yorker artistic bohemian pedigree was strong. He may have been the only artist at the time who had an artistic aim rather than an aim to document the movement. His lens was that of an artist, not of a scholar. With a kind view of graffiti at the time, he felt it was a kind of people’s art revolution that took back the city and beautified it on the participants’ own terms.

EXHIBITION 010: GRAFFITI ARCHIVE 1972/73 installation view

The graffiti that Matta-Clark found was fresh and full of adolescent fun and creativity and incorporated many of the early standard hallmarks of graffiti today: 3D,characters, arrows, and connections between the letters. By the late 1960s, the graffiti scene in New York City had remained relatively unchanged for centuries.

However, in the mid-1970s, a remarkable transformation occurred as teenagers turned ordinary graffiti into a burgeoning art form. This rapid evolution marked one of the swiftest developments in the realm of art movements. Only a limited number of forward-thinking individuals in New York recognized the potential of capturing the captivating chaos displayed on walls and subways through photography.

The subset who not only recognized but also actively documented this burgeoning graffiti movement between 1970 and 1975 was quite small. Depending on your interpretation of “substantial,” this number might be in the single digits. Gordon Matta-Clark belonged to this select group, capturing over 2,000 images of New York City graffiti between 1972 and 1973. The exhibition at CONTROL gallery in LA preserves moments of rebellion, self expression, and cultural commentary that defined a movement, and also features original, vintage artworks from artists whose work is immortalized within Matta-Clark’s photographs.

The show transcends traditional exhibition boundaries with an immersive academic exploration that creates a bridge between the past and the present, featuring meticulous curation from Roger Gastman to present original works in situ through Matta-Clark’s lens.

BEYOND THE STREETS worked closely with the estate of Gordon Matta-Clark to bring this remarkable collection to light, offering art enthusiasts, historians, and urban culture enthusiasts an unparalleled opportunity to witness the evolution of street art through the eyes of a true visionary. BEYOND THE STREETS has established a global reputation for large-scale exhibitions, immersive educational experiences, and pop-up events, which have played host to over 650,000 unique visitors between its shows in New York, The Hamptons, London, Shanghai, and digital showcases with NTWRK, and now Los Angeles at CONTROL Gallery.

BEYOND THE STREETS was founded by Roger Gastman, producer of the 2010 Academy Award-nominated film, Exit Through the Gift Shop, co-curator of Art in the Streets (2011) at the MoCA in Los Angeles, and director of the SHOWTIME documentary Rolling Like Thunder (2021), a plunge into the underground world of freight train graffiti culture. BEYOND THE STREETS is an art-driven cultural and educational worldwide movement celebrating mark makers and rule breakers, agitators and instigators. Its curation showcases the best of contemporary and emerging artists, with a focus on graffiti and street art creators.

EXHIBITION 010: GRAFFITI ARCHIVE 1972/73 installation view

Roger Gastman explains: “What really resonates with me is the sense of pride I feel to be able to share these photos. It’s not just about showcasing graffiti—it’s a genuine homage to real history, a glimpse into the ‘who,’ ‘what,’ and ‘where’ of these vibrant stories etched onto walls and trains. I can’t help but feel happiness, knowing that Gordon Matta-Clark had the foresight to capture these moments and that
his estate entrusted us to put this show together—it has truly felt like a collaboration. Throughout the years, I’ve invested considerable time into unearthing vintage gems from the early ’70s—drawings, paintings, and ephemera that tell stories of a bygone era. This exhibition, for me, is like revealing a well-kept secret, placing these treasures in their genuine context.”

Born in New York City in 1943 to artists Roberto Matta and Anne Clark, Gordon Matta-Clark came of age during a time of political turmoil against a backdrop of urban infrastructure in crisis. He studied architecture and graduated from Cornell University in 1968, returning to his native New York City the following year. Struck by the inability of Modernist forms to provide solutions to the city’s increasing social problems, he began to combine his activist concerns with his artistic production.

He helped establish alternative spaces such as 112 Greene Street, and the Food Restaurant in SoHo and engaged with peer artists and non-artists in collaboration that aimed to improve their surroundings. In the 1970s, Matta-Clark experimented across various media and began staging monumental interventions and smaller-scale installations in the charged city landscape, bringing attention to New York’s failing social policies, displaced people, and abandoned spaces. He also implemented a number of important interventions across Europe, in Milano, Paris, Antwerp and Kassel. Gordon Matta-Clark died from cancer in 1978 at the age of 35.

In 2007, Gordon Matta-Clark: You Are the Measure was the first full-scale retrospective organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, which traveled to the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago.

From 2009 to 2010, Gordon Matta-Clark: Undoing Spaces—the first major survey of his work in South America—toured to the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Santiago; Museu de Arte Moderna, São Paulo; Paco Imperial, Rio de Janeiro; and Museo de Arte de Lima. Recent institutional exhibitions were held at Museu Serralves, Porto, Portugal (2017), and The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo (2018), which marked the first full-scale retrospective of the artist’s work in Asia (titled Gordon Matta-Clark: Mutations in Space). In 2017-2020, Matta-Clark’s work was the focus of a critically acclaimed traveling exhibition, Gordon Matta-Clark: Anarchitect, that was on view at The Bronx Museum of the Arts, New York; Jeu de Paume, Paris; Kumu Art Museum, Tallinn, Estonia; and the Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts.

EXHIBITION 010: GRAFFITI ARCHIVE 1972/73 is at CONTROL Gallery in Los Angeles until 13 th April 2024.

BEYOND THE STREETS Publishing are releasing a new 408-page hardbound Gordon Matta-Clark book featuring more than 550 images to coincide with the exhibition, including photos from the exhibition, edited by Roger Gastman, with essays from Carlo McCormick, Caleb Neelon and Chris Pape.

©2024 Beyond the Streets