Le Va, whose pioneering scatter pieces on the floor, started in 1966, made him
one of the first of the so-called “Process” artists, started, in 1969, to create
works with cleavers embedded in the wall or the floor. Three wall pieces will
be shown, each made by thrusting a cleaver into the wall at intervals equiva-
lent to a large side step; if located at the top of the wall, the cleaver is pro-
pelled from the artist’s right-side-up position, if on the bottom of the wall from
the artist’s downward-facing and back-to-the-wall position. The works are
clear, direct, unadorned manifestations of a simple physical process, created
without self-conscious aesthetic intention. Indeed, Le Va has said that these
and other sculptures similarly fraught with danger and created between 1968
and 197l, such as Within the Series of Layered Pattern Acts created by shat-
tering sheets of glass on the floor, were more about exploring mathematical
givens in relation to time and space than about threat of danger. In the case
of the Cleaver pieces, those givens are the artist’s height and the fixed radius
of the arc of his arm’s thrust. Of course, these works were originally created
during a time of great violence in our culture.
The configuration of the sculpture is dependent upon the space it is created in.
Only two Cleaved pieces have previously been seen in New York, one at the
exhibition space 112 Greene Street in 1969, and one at the Whitney Museum
of American Art exhibition Contemporary American Sculpture, in 1970.
The exhibition, at 745 Fifth Avenue, will run through 16 May 2009.