The spectrum of artistic practices engaged with the environment is wide. But the term “environmental art” itself really only gained potency in the 1970s with the
movement. It hit critical mass when
coiled rocks in a drought-stricken lake basin in Utah for his Spiral Jetty
, which was subsumed by floodwaters three years later. (Thanks to another round of drought, the work is once again visible.) The term “environmental art” refers specifically to formal practices consciously connecting nature to art and is geared toward breaking sculpture, conceptual art, and performance out of the art world’s traditional, institutional bounds. In 1982
staged 7000 Oaks
at Documenta VII, planting, as the title suggests, 7,000 oak trees in and throughout Kassel, Germany.
has built a practice around picking up pieces of rock and terrestrial material and arranging them in naturally poetic formations, often inspired by ambles the artist takes through historically important paths. (For his current show at Sperone Westwater
, up through October 24th, he traveled by foot from the Great Mosque of Córdoba in Andalusia, Spain, to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in northwest Spain.)