Critical assessment of Mendieta's last phase of work from the 1980s has been clouded by the circumstances surrounding her violent death at age thirty-six.
When she died in a fall from the thirty-fourth floor of a Greenwich Village apartment building, she was married to Carl Andre. He was the only other person in the apartment on the morning of September 8, 1985, when she fell. Though indicted for her murder, he was acquitted in 1988.
The intrigue and mystery surrounding her death deeply polarized the art world between the powerful establishment loyal to Andre and the feminist and Latino art communities.
Personal loyalty has continued to play a role in the critical appraisal of both artists. In an emperor's-new-clothes situation, the points of comparison between their work are evident, but politically incorrect to discuss.
Of essentially different generations artistically, they still found much to admire in each other's work. A Minimalist aesthetic and preoccupation with issues of scale, materials, presentation, and environment drew them together. Yet as post-Minimalism challenged many tenets of the style it subverts, Mendieta's gendered subjectivity distinguished her art from Andre's iconic Minimalism.
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