One of Nickel’s first “Plywood Pieces” used a sheet of weathered 4x8-foot plywood, which he found discarded along the railroad tracks near his studio. His work at that time was about “the given,” about the “reorganization of matter,” and about “organizing principles” to guide a process of art making. Nickel dragged the sheet to his studio because of its weathered surface, which he wanted to preserve in a “truth to materials” tradition. Reorganization of the plywood was the goal. He made his cuts and shuffled the pieces so that the grain and weathered edges would be perceived as running through the original material. The sheet was cut up using a 3:4 progression, and reassembled in a slight curve off the wall. Only a pile of sawdust was lost. The pieces of the main body were numbered 1 to 24 and the “tail” was lettered — Nickel’s way of keeping track of the pieces as they were scattered on the studio floor.

36 Pieces

10 April 1976
St. Louis, Missouri
Plywood
H: 5 ft. 4 in. x W: 9 ft. 7 in. x D: 7 in.

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