Slab (platform) and Slab (cloud) were fabricated in metal in 1973, duplicating in permanent materials the original pieces which were made in plywood in 1962. Slab (platform) was first exhibited at Green Gallery, New York, in October-November 1963. Slab (cloud) was first exhibited at Green Gallery, New York, in December 1964.
The two works were not initially exhibited as a pair. 'Nevertheless', Robert Morris has stated:
I see them existing together in combination. I am not as insistent on this as I am with the case of the Three L-forms of 1965 in which a single 'L'-shaped form is permuted in terms of its position with respect ot the ground. Still, the two slabs are also permuted with respect to floor/space. On the other hand, I first showed the floor slab independently. But it was at a certain point in time (exactly when I cannot remember) that the two works became a pair and I have wanted them shown that way ever since.1
Morris also considered making a series of slabs:
The 1973 versions may be slightly different from the first ones, not only in material (first ones were plywood) but dimensions. I think there was a few inches difference in thickness. There could have been a very long series of these slabs (maybe not as many as Brancusi's Birds), each with a slightly different dimension, distance from the floor, shade of grey, etc. In fact I made several versions of each slab in plywood for various shows - it was easier to make these on the spot than ship them. But these have all been destroyed. The ones you [the Australian National Gallery] have are the only ones that now exist so far as I know: manifestations of a long but unrealised series.2
Michael Lloyd & Michael Desmond European and American Paintings and Sculptures 1870-1970 in the Australian National Gallery 1992 p.319.
- Robert Morris, correspondence with the Gallery, 14 December 1985
- Ibid. The existence of another metal version of Slab (platform) is suggested by an illustration in Robert Morris, London: Tate Gallery, 1971 (exhibition catalogue), p.35, where the caption reads 'Slab 1962 and 1968, Painted steel, 96 x 96 x 8 (reconstruction: first version in plywood)'. The photograph for this work is credited to Leo Castelli Gallery, New York. Correspondence from Leo Castelli Gallery of 7 June 1986 yielded: 'Our records indicate that the steel version of Slab, 1962/1968, which you found in the Tate Gallery catalogue, did indeed exist, but unfortunately, we cannot tell you who has it now'. However, Robert Morris reiterated in correspondence with the Gallery of 19 May 1986, 'I recall making only two permanent slabs in metal: one hanging, one on the floor.
Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010