Conical Intersect, 1975

Photograph, 18 x 13.3 cm

Although Matta-Clark initially began making building cuts due to the need to find workspaces in abandoned buildings and unused storerooms (many artists in New York in the seventies occupied abandoned industrial premises), they soon evolved into a creative language and a form of activism that was critical of the capitalist use of architecture and of the myth of the American dream.

Given that none of the buildings that Matta-Clark worked on are still standing today, it is the photographs, drawings and footage of that have become his true body of work. The building cuts are a reflection on speculation, private property and privacy. In the first, Bronx Floors (1972), Matta-Clark used a handsaw to cut out rectangular sections of the floors and walls of abandoned buildings in the Bronx, and later exhibited the pieces in commercial galleries. In Splitting (1974), the artist literally sliced through the middle a typical middle class suburban house. One of his most acclaimed works, Conical Intersect (1975), consisted of creating huge circular openings in the walls of an apartment building that was about to be knocked down in the working class neighbourhood of Les Halles in Paris. The shapes that Matta-Clark cut out of the walls were based on Anthony McCall's Line Describing a Cone, and provoked a strong sense of physical and visual stability that was intensified by the framework of the new Centre Georges Pompidou, which was being built nearby. In Day’s End (1975), Matta-Clark made an opening shaped like a giant eye in the wall of an abandoned warehouse on a derelict pier in Manhattan. One of his best-known works, Office Baroque (1977), was an action carried out on a commercial building in Antwerp, as part of the celebrations to mark the 400th anniversary of the death of the Flemish painter Rubens. The title Office Baroque, which sounds similar to “office broke”, was also a reference to the failure of capitalism. Matta-Clark’s last building cut, Circus-Caribbean Orange (1978), was commissioned by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, and involved a complex pattern of circular openings on several floors of a building.

Technical details

Original title:
Conical Intersect
Registration number:
Matta-Clark, Gordon
Date created:
Date acquired:
MACBA Collection. MACBA Foundation
Object type:
Gelatin silver print photocollage
18 x 13.3 cm (height x width)
MACBA Collection. MACBA Foundation
© Estate of Gordon Matta-Clark, VEGAP, Barcelona
It has accessibility resources:

The MACBA Collection features Catalan, Spanish and international art and, although it includes works from the 1920s onwards, its primary focus is on the period between the 1960s and the present.

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