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William Anastasi

January 13, 1989, 10 minutes, 6B


This play is a reflection on the (im)possibility of accepting diversity and the other. The fragmented body of the neoplasm—the fruit of unstable conditions—overcomes barriers, loves and denies itself and others, wanders around, forgetting its profession. It frequently and with pleasure divides, goes through dangerous palpation, questions the possibility of contact with the experience of the other. Poorly brought up but very successful, it invites us to a trans-species transition.

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January 13, 1989, 10 minutes, 6B, was once part of the Mattress Factory's permanent collection until it was replaced by Anastasi in 1997 with Untitled (Calisthenic Series). For this work, the artist prescribed deliberate limits: he selected a wall, chose graphite of a specific hardness, blindfolded himself, and drew for a preset time period. Within those limits, his body size determined the dimensions of the blind drawing.

Artist Statement

In 1963 I did drawings in India ink that I called Constellations. I did them blind, closing my eyes and listening to Wanda Landowska's recording of the Well-Tempered Clavier, not following the sound, but just doing it over a period of time so I would know when to stop. I did 96, one for each Prelude and one for each Fugue. The drawings were made of dots. I found that if I didn't look where I was putting the dots, it turned out better than if I did look.

By 1964 I was doing gestural line drawings with graphite in a lead-holder. They ranged in dimension from 11" x 8" to 45" x 35". My intention was to forget drawing, to forget art history, to forget art, to forget myself, if possible. I have continued this work to the present and have found that the distancing ability improves steadily. The activity affords minutes or hours of greatly appreciated tranquility, and I am left with an object which is a kind of literal record of what my hands and arms were doing during that interval.


William Anastasi: January 13, 1989
About The Artist

William Anastasi is one of the founders of both Conceptual and Minimal Art - relevant works were made before the movements were named. These works, starting in 1961, include Relief and Microphone, among the earliest examples of Conceptual Art. Between 1963 and 1966, we have Sink - a clear demonstration of entropy - and Issue and Trespass - important forerunners to an entire class of works involving deconstruction. Sink (which combines his Conceptual and Minimal approaches) and En Route, are among the earliest forays into Minimal Art. Holding that after Duchamp there was no earthly reason why a blind man could not be an artist, his unsighted drawings were also started in 1963. His 1966/67 Six Sites broke the ground for an entire genre of exhibitions under the rubric Site Specific. Underlying his practice is his sense that the only thing that interests him about taste is that it is always changing.

More from this Artist

Untitled (Calisthenic Series)


One Gallon High Gloss Industrial Enamel, Thrown

One Gallon High Gloss Industrial Enamel, Poured on an Incision

April 15, 1989, 32 minutes, 4B

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