Land Art


A shortening of the phrase "landscape art,” used interchangeably with Earthworks to refer to pieces made of materials derived from the earth or situated on or within a landscape. Such works are usually site specific—created for and utilizing aspects or characteristics of a particular location. Both American and European artists began to use dirt, rocks, and sand as media and subject matter in the late 1960s, experimenting with diverse approaches. In 1967 the English artist Richard Long walked up and down a stretch of meadow over and over, creating a visible path depicted in the photograph A Line Made by Walking. This understated meditation on the symmetry and grace of a simple landscape contrasts with Land Art works that seek to dramatically alter a site, such as Robert Smithson’s well-known 1970 sculpture and film, Spiral Jetty, which uses 7,000 tons of basalt, boulders, mud, and salt crystals mined from the area around Rozel Point, Great Salt Lake, Utah, to form a massive spiral winding 450 meters from the lake shore. Some of these works address ecological issues like those concerning activists in the 1960s. Alan Sonfist’s Time Landscape, for instance, which he proposed in 1965 and implemented in 1978, re-creates the original landscape on a small plot in Manhattan, calling attention to what is lost through urbanization and development.