Bertrand Goldberg

Conceptual Art was termed a "dematerialization" of the work of art, or a means to "live in your head." In hindsight it seems that artists did not so much abandon making objects as rethink their material aspects. Photographs exploded into wall- or room-filling installations in the 1970s. They also helped render the artist's body a valid material for art, as in the work of Giuseppe Penone, who in an untitled piece from 1974 presented a photograph of his forearm in such a way that his skin appears to corrode one edge of the aluminum frame.

Fresh considerations of the materiality of the body advanced in parallel with interventions in the realm of real estate—works that addressed "property" in a public sense. Hans Haacke evoked the claustrophobic atmosphere of low-cost housing in his display of research on the shady practices of New York slumlords; Valie Export tested the fit of her body against buildings and street curbs; Gordon Matta-Clark cut open houses slated for demolition and purchased useless slivers of land; and Dan Graham pictured prefabricated housing estates as an everyman's version of Minimal Art. In many of these works, as in the mural-size pieces by Jan Dibbets, Michael Heizer, and Braco Dimitrijevi that close the exhibition, the artists strove to correlate photographs with material reality, to test the possibilities and limitations of what Heizer called art at "actual size."

Jan Dibbets. Horizon III – Sea (Horizon III – Zee), 1971. Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam.