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Land Art - Richard Long

   

Richard Long - A Line Made by Walking, 1967

Land Art emerged as an art movement in the USA in the late 1960s. The initial aim was to dissolve the boundaries of conventional art institutions and to find new ways of expression outside of the exhibition space, for which the artists made use of landscape and nature.

Richard Long, an English representative of the movement, walked straight up and down a meadow in 1967 for his work "A Line Made by Walking, England", leaving a trail in the grass. With this minimal change in nature, which had a temporal component in both the process of creation and its dissolution, Long pursued a conceptual approach with a reduced formal language.

By piling up earth, drawing in the sand, or arranging stones and leaves, the Land Art artists created works of art with and in nature, which were exposed to weather and were therefore ephemeral. In addition, Land Art works were often created in remote places and were not easily accessible to viewers, which is why the works were usually documented photographically and on film. The German filmmaker Gerry Schum presented in 1969 a series of videos of works by several artists in a TV show called “Land Art”, which gave a name to the movement.

Through Robert Smithson, Land Art underwent further theoretical expansion. He was interested in the interrelation between the inside and outside and created the terms "site" and "nonsite". The term "site" refers to a real existing place in the exterior space, whereas "nonsite" means a work in the interior space that consists of materials from the real place and has a direct reference to it. In his work "A Nonsite, Franklin, New Jersey" (1968), for example, Smithson transferred material from Franklin, New Jersey to the gallery space as a representation of this location, thus reintegrating the conventional exhibition space into the dialogue.

Following Smithson’s theory, the three drawings in Richard Long's "River Avon Mud Drawings" series (1989) can be described as "nonsite" works. They were created by dipping a structured piece of paper in the wet mud of the River Avon, a river in southwest England that flows through Long's home town of Bristol.
Long describes the works as drawings that reflect the appearance of the riverbed after low tide: a mud-covered surface with a ramified pattern left by the tidal current. Long hangs the leaves up to dry and finally turns them 180 degrees, so that the vertical flow traces of the mud taper off towards the top.

Richard Long - Untitled (River Avon Mud Drawings), 1989

Richard Long - Ohne Titel (River Avon Mud Drawings), 1989

Richard Long - Ohne Titel (River Avon Mud Drawings), 1989

Richard Long - Ohne Titel (River Avon Mud Drawings), 1989

Richard Long - Ohne Titel (River Avon Mud Drawings), 1989

"322" (1998) can also be described as a "nonsite" work and refers to the same place as Long's Mud Drawings: the River Avon. The heavy stone seems to have been brought into a regular round disc and was perhaps hewn with a tool. However, the surface structure was left rough and angular. On the yellowish stone Long has painted beige, elongated dots in an oval shape, so that the object now resembles an eye. It almost seems as if we have a cult object in front of us, which perhaps comes from an ancient or indigenous culture.

Richard Long - 322, 1998

Richard Long - 322, 1998

Richard Long - 322, 1998

Richard Long - 322, 1998

About artist
Richard Long
Bristol, 1945

Richard Long (*2.6.1945, Bristol) is an English sculptor and one of the best-known British land artists. Long studied from 1962 to 1965 at West England College of Art in Bristol and from 1966 to 1968 at St. Martin's School of Art in London. In 1988 he was awarded the Aachen Art Prize and in 1989 the Turner Prize. His artistic work encompasses conceptual walks in all parts of the world, which he documents photographically and textually. In the course of such hikes, he creates temporary stone or wooden sculptures that are often removed after photographic documentation or left to natural weathering. Long lives and works in Bristol.