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New York Artist Charged With Murder : Sculptor Held in Wife's 34-Story Plunge

September 10, 1985|From Times Wire Services

NEW YORK — Minimalist sculptor Carl Andre, internationally known for his arrangements of bricks and boulders, is in jail today on a charge of killing his wife of less than a year by pushing her out a 34th-floor window.

Andre, whose works have been displayed in one-man shows in Europe and the United States, was charged with second-degree murder after his wife's death Sunday in the East Village, police said.

Judge Max Sayah set bail at $250,000 Monday, refused to accept artworks in lieu of money, and ordered Andre to surrender his passport.

Police said Andre, 49, and his wife, Ana Mendieta, 35, also a sculptor, had an argument in their 34th-floor apartment at about 5:30 a.m.

Mendieta's body was later found on a second-floor landing directly below the apartment, and Andre was arrested a few hours later.

Dist. Atty. Robert Morgenthau said a passer-by had heard screams that he called "consistent with someone being thrown out the window." Andre had scratches on his face and there were signs of a struggle in the apartment, he said.

Andre told police he had argued with his wife and that she went into the bedroom. A few minutes later, he said, he went into the bedroom but could not find her.

Born in Cuba, Mendieta arrived in the United States after the Cuban revolution. She studied at the University of Iowa and received a Guggenheim Fellowship.

Andre, a founder of the Minimalist school of sculpture, used simple materials. Two of his works brought him notoriety: an untitled sculpture of 120 bricks which the Tate Gallery in London bought for $1,000, and "Stone Field Sculpture," an arrangement of 36 uncut boulders sold to Hartford, Conn., for $87,000.

The British press criticized the Tate for its 1976 purchase, and Hartford officials went to court in an unsuccessful effort to recoup some of the fee paid for the boulders in 1977 after the mayor complained the price was too high for "a bunch of stones."

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