America Is Hard to See

Solo en Inglès

Kids can listen and learn from this audio guide highlighting selected works in America Is Hard to See.

Raphael Montañez Ortiz, _Archeological find, Number 9_, 1964. Wood, steel, plastic glues, rope, fabric, and horse hair. 76 ¾ x 66 ¾ 22 in. (195 x 169.6 x 55.9 cm). Gift of George and Lillian Schwartz 65.33 © artist or artist’s estate

Take a close look at the materials in this sculpture. You’ll find a bunch of bent and broken springs. There’s a bit of intricately carved wood—where would you expect to find something like that? Now notice the dark brown curly material at the lower left. It’s horse hair—a material that used to be used to stuff furniture. In fact, this was once a sofa. The artist, Raphael Montañez Ortiz, burned, chopped, and ripped it, then coated it in thick glue. He chanted while he was doing it, as if it were a kind of ritual.

Ortiz described works like this one as “destructivist”—he created them by destroying objects. In part, he was objecting to American materialism—the tremendous value that we place on owning things. For Ortiz, this violent approach to art-making was a kind of liberation—he talked about it releasing anger, and also setting the inner spirit of the object free.