Equivalent VIII, occasionally referred to as The Bricks, is the last and most famous of a series of minimalist sculpture by Carl Andre. The exhibit comprises one-hundred-and-twenty fire bricks, arranged in two layers, in a six-by-ten rectangle. All eight structures in the series have the same height, mass and volume, but different shapes. Thus they are all "equivalent".
Constructed in 1966, it was bought by the Tate Gallery in 1972 for $6,000 (then £2,297), half of the 1966 price. As none of the pieces had been sold during their New York gallery exhibition, Andre had returned the original bricks for a refund and so new bricks were bought and shipped to the UK along with instructions on how to arrange them.
When first exhibited at the Tate Gallery at Millbank in 1974 and 1975, it drew no great response. However in February 1976, when it was not on display, the piece drew much criticism in the press because of the perception that taxpayers' money had been spent on paying an inflated price for a collection of bricks. The bricks were also defaced by Peter Stowell-Phillips, a chef who covered them with blue food dye. The purchase has also been criticised for only buying one of the series of eight arrangements, thus removing the context of their 'equivalence' and for failing to otherwise explain the concept of the piece.
- Bricks!. 17 August 2017. BBC Four.
- Archive Journeys - Tate History: The Bricks controversy and 'Save the Stubbs'. tate.org.uk (acc. 2016-10-09)
- For art’s sake, The Economist, May 11th 2000
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