Land and Environmental

(style, 1965-present)

Introduction

Robert Smithson was one of the founders of the art form known as earthworks or land art, and is most well known for the Spiral Jetty, 1970, located in the Great Salt Lake, Utah. This monumental earthwork was inspired in part when Smithson saw the Great Serpent Mound, a Pre-Columbian Indian monument in southwestern Ohio. The earthworks were a radical departure from making formal objects situated in a gallery setting.

Also referred to as Earthworks Art or simply Earth Art, this movement involves the use of nature and all natural materials like soil, rock, organic media, and water to produce an artwork.1 The natural elements may also be combined with concrete, asphalt, metal, and mineral pigments. This art movement is closely related to Site-Specific Installations and sculptures.

Meteorite by Milton Becessar

History

Land and Environmental Art started as an artistic protest against the artificiality, plastic aesthetics, and commercialization of art during the latter part of 1960s. It originated in the United States where many artists began creating artworks that are not intended for exhibit at any museum or gallery. They wanted to create something that cannot be transported or sold in the commercial market.

The artists used earth-moving equipment to create their artworks. They oftentimes choose a remote location for their masterpieces, ideally a place that is very far away from civilization, where their works can be left to change or erode under natural conditions. Several of the Land and Environmental artworks in the United States were created in the deserts of New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona, and Utah.2 Many of them were also ephemeral in nature, which means they now only exist in photographic documents or video recordings.

This movement officially began in October 1968 after the Earth Works group exhibition held at the Dwan Gallery in New York. Many other works under the movement came out after the exhibit. But because this type of art is rather expensive to execute, it faded out after the economic downturn around mid-1970.

Roden Crater Satellite View by James Turrell

Famous Artists

There are many famous artists which works can be classified under the Land and Environmental Art movement. However, it was American artist Robert Smithson who figured most prominently. The other popular names of this movement include Jacek Tylicki, Andrew Rogers, James Turrell, Milton Becerra, Michael Heizer, Eberhard Bosslet, and Manfred Kielnhofer, among others.

Famous Artworks

The most famous and highly admired Land and Environmental Art masterpiece could be Robert Smithson’s ‘Spiral Jetty’. It was built in 1970 on the shores of the Great Salt Lake near the Rozel Point in Utah. This earthwork sculpture is made out of mud, basalt rock, salt crystals, and water. It is a 1,500-foot long and 15-foot wide counterclockwise coil that juts from the shore of the lake. Its last photograph was shot in April of 2005.

Spiral Jetty

The other examples of Land and Environmental art are ‘Bunjil Geoglyph’ found at the You Yangs in Lara, Australia created by Andrew Rogers; the ‘Roden Crater Satellite View’ by James Turrell located just outside Flagstaff, Arizona; ‘Meteriorite’ (1985) by Milton Becessar, which was created at the Ibirapuera Park for the XVIII Biennial of Sao Paulo; ‘Side Effect X’ (2008) which can be found in Tias, Lanzarote created by Eberhard Bosslet; and ‘The Kiss, Feld’ (2005) by Manfred Kielnhofer created in Enns, Austria.

Land and Environmental Artists

Newton & Helen Mayer Harrison
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Pekka Nevalainen
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Andy Goldsworthy
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Michael Smit
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Harriet Feigenbaum
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Mary Beth Edelson
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Witold Rybczynski
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Alice Aycock
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Maurizio Cattelan
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Ludger Gerdes
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Cai Guo-Qiang
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Dalziel and Scullion
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Meg Webster
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Richard Long
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Luc Deleu
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James Wines
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Vong Phaophanit
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Carlo Kroon
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Robert Smithson
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Andreas Fogarasi
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Beverly Pepper
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Kazuo Shiraga
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Tilo Schulz
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Hamish Fulton
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Betty Beaumont
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Maria Elena Gonzalez
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Laurent Gutierrez & Valerie Portevaix
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Junichi Kakizaki
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Mary Miss
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Lara Almarcegui
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Marinus Boezem
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Mark Dion
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Isamu Noguchi
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Nathan Coley
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Toby Paterson
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Richard Fleischner
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Richard Serra
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Abigail Doan
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Ravi Agarwal
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Mel Chin
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Kathryn Gustafson
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Naz Shahrokh
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Maria Buchner
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Peter Fend
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Teddy Cruz
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Narcisse Tordoir
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Lothar Baumgarten
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Hans Haacke
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William Furlong
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Walter de Maria
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Valerie Jaudon
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Agnes Denes
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David Medalla
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David Nash
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Olafur Eliasson
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Herbert Bayer
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Buster Simpson
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Dennis Oppenheim
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Armando Andrade Tudela
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Nancy Holt
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Charles Simonds
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Christopher Alexander
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James Turrell
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ANT FARM
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Herman de Vries
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Gordon Matta-Clark
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Sjoerd Buisman
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Toshikatsu Endo
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Karl-Heinz Klopf
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Olafur Thordarson
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Superflex group
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Nari Ward
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Patricia Johanson
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Julie Bargmann
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Peter David Hamilton
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Robert Morris
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William Kentridge
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Karin Daan
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Ad Dekkers
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Ana Mendieta
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Alan Sonfist
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Christo
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Tal R
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Michael Heizer
December 28, 2008 / By The Artists

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