Equivalent V is part of a series of eight sculptures that Andre first exhibited in 1966 at the Tibor de Nagy Gallery in New York. Each of the works is composed of 120 bricks stacked two high and placed directly on the gallery floor. Although the eight works in the series are precise equivalents in many respects (for example, in height, volume, and weight), each is unique in its configuration. Equivalent V is five brick lengths long and twelve brick widths wide, while Equivalent VIII measures ten brick lengths by six brick widths, and so on. By distinctly articulating the shape of each work and executing various permutations with the same materials, Andre proposed that sculpture should define rather than simply occupy space, an idea that has remained important to him throughout his career.
The Equivalents, Andre’s first flat floor works, dispense with the traditional sculptural pedestal and therefore also eliminate the division between artistic and ordinary space that it implies. The viewer and the sculpture exist in the same field, a fact heightened by the artist’s decision to use unexceptional, factory-made bricks rather than a material associated with fine art, such as bronze or marble. Most of the works in the 1966 series were destroyed. Andre recreated them in 1969 using firebricks, because the original material, sand-lime brick, was no longer available.
Publication excerpt from MoMA Highlights: 375 Works from The Museum of Modern Art, New York (New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2019)