Andre was born in Quincy, MA. He completed primary and secondary schooling in the Quincy public school system and studied art at Phillips Academy in Andover, MA from 1951 to 1953. While at Phillips Academy he became friends with Hollis Frampton who would later influence Andre's radical approach to sculpture through their conversations about art and through introductions to other artists.
Andre served in the U.S. Army in North Carolina 1955-56 and moved to New York City in 1956. While in New York, Frampton introduced Andre to Constantin Brâncuşi through whom Andre became re-acquainted with a former classmate from Phillips Academy, Frank Stella, in 1958. Andre shared studio space with Stella from 1958 through 1960.
Andre's early work in wood may have been inspired by Brâncuşi, but his conversations with Stella about space and form led him in a different direction. While sharing a studio with Stella, Andre developed a series of wooden "cut" sculptures (such as Radial Arm Saw cut sculpture, 1959, and Maple Spindle Exercise, 1959). Stella is noted as having said to Andre (regarding hunks of wood removed from Andre's sculpture) "Carl, that's sculpture, too."
From 1960-64 Andre worked as freight brakeman and conductor in New Jersey for the Pennsylvania Railroad. The experience with blue collar labor and the ordered nature of conducting freight trains would have a later influence on Andre's sculpture and artistic personality. For example, it was not uncommon for Andre to dress in overalls and a blue work shirt, even to the most formal occasions."
During this period, Andre focused mainly on writing and there is little notable sculpture on record between 1960 and 1965. The poetry would resurface later, most notably in a book (finally published in 1980 by NYU press) called 12 Dialogues in which Andre and Frampton took turns responding to one another at a typewriter using mainly poetry and free-form essay-like texts. Andre's concrete poetry has exhibited in the United States and Europe, a comprehensive collection of which is in the collection of the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam.
In 1965 he had his first public exhibition of work in the "Shape and Structure" show curated by Henry Geldzahler at the Tibor de Nagy Gallery.
Andre's controversial "Lever" was included in the seminal 1966 show at the Jewish Museum in New York entitled Primary Structures.
In 1969 Andre helped organize the Art Workers Coalition.
In 1970 he had a one man exhibition at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and has had one man exhibitions and participated in group shows in major museums, galleries, and kunsthalles throughout America and Europe.
In 1972, Britain's Tate Gallery acquired Andre's Equivalent VIII, an arrangement of fireplace bricks. The piece was exhibited several times without incident, but became the center of controversy in 1976 after being featured in an article in The Sunday Times and later being defaced with paint. The "Bricks controversy" became one of the most famous public debates in Britain about contemporary art.
In 1979 Andre first met Ana Mendieta through a mutual friendship with artists Leon Golub and Nancy Spero at AIR Gallery in New York City. Andre and Mendieta eventually married in 1985, but the relationship ended in tragedy. Mendieta fell to her death from Andre's 34th story apartment window in 1985 after an argument with Andre. Andre was charged with second degree murder. He elected to be tried before a judge with no jury. In 1988 Andre was acquitted of all charges related to Mendieta's death.
He is represented by the Paula Cooper Gallery in New York, by Sadie Coles HQ in London, and Yvon Lambert Gallery in Paris.
In 2011 he was invited to participate in the exhibition “Personal Structures” in Palazzo Bembo as part of the 54. Biennale di Venezia in Italy a project initiated by Rene Rietmeyer .
* Carl Andre - America Drill, 2003, Les Maîtres de Forme Contemporains, mfc-michèle didier and Paula Cooper Gallery
1. ^ Hartford Advocate 11/13/1997 "Twenty Years After Stone Field Sculpture shook the Insurance City, Carl Andre Returns" by Patricia Rosoff 
Busch, Julia M. (1974). A Decade of Sculpture: the New Media in the 1960's. London: Associated University Presses. ISBN 0-87982-007-1.
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