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Site specific art
IntroductionSite-specific art is artwork created to exist in a certain place. Typically, the artist takes the location into account while planning and creating the artwork.
Outdoor site-specific artworks often include landscaping combined with permanently sited sculptural elements (the movement is linked with Environmental art). Indoor site-specific artworks may be created in conjunction with (or indeed by) the architects of the building.
More broadly, the term is sometimes used for any work that is (more or less) permanently attached to a particular location. In this sense, a building with interesting architecture could be considered a piece of site-specific art. Artists producing site-specific works include Robert Smithson, Andy Goldsworthy, Christo, Richard Serra, Yumi Kori, Brandon LaBelle, Guillaume Bijl, Christian Bernard Singer, Betty Beaumont and younger artists like Mark Divo, John K. Melvin, Lennie Lee, Luna Nera, Wrights & Sites, Sarah Sze, Seth Wulsin, Ben Cummins and Simparch.
DefinitionSite Specific Art, which is sometimes referred to as Environment Art, pertains to a modern art form designed to exist only in a certain location. The artists behind these contemporary art masterpieces always consider the location in which their modern art work will be installed, including but not limited to its physical elements such as length, depth, height, weight, shape, temperature, and walls. Aside from this movement’s applications in the visual arts, the concept of Site Specific Dance also exists.
HistoryThe term Site Specific Art was promoted and refined by Robert Irwin, a modern art designer from California. However, it was first used by young sculptors namely Athena Tacha, Dennis Oppenheim, and Patricia Johanson. The concept was officially declared as a contemporary art movement by architectural critic Catherine Howett in 1977.1
The international prominence of Site Specific Art started in 1960. That was the time when artists started making modern art works under the movement right from the walls and gardens of famous museums and galleries. However, some artists move out to create their contemporary art work in landscapes and specific outdoor locations.
InfluenceSite Specific Art is strongly associated with architectural art as these pieces are permanently attached to where it is located. This is because the modern art work cannot be changed or moved at all, or it will lose its essence. Technically speaking, this movement started when a group of artists tried to address the transportable and nomadic condition associated with traditional contemporary art works.
Famous ArtworksA few of the most notable Site Specific Art works are Dan Flavin’s ‘Site Specific Installation’ (1996), a modern art work that is made part of the Menil Collection in Houston; ‘Nef Pour Quatorze Reines’ by Rose-Marie Goulet, a memorial build for the Ecole Polytechnique Massacre; ‘Street Crossing’ (1992) by George Segal, which is a permanent contemporary art installation at the Montclair State University; and ‘Side Effect X’ (2008), a modern art work located at Tias Lanzarote by Eberhard Bosslet.
Another famous example of Site Specific Art is Robert Smithson’s ‘Spiral Jetty’, which he created in 2005. It is an earthwork that can be viewed from atop Rozel Point. He created this modern art work by making removable or ephemeral tableaux along certain pathways so that the terrain itself cannot be permanently altered.2
Famous ArtistsSite Specific Art was made famous by artists in the likes of Daniel Buren, Michael Asher, Hans Haacke, Mierle Laderman Ukeles, Michele Oka Doner, Sir Jacob Epstien, David Smith, Henry Moore, Isaac Witkin, Diego Rivera, Walter De Maria, Jannis Kounellis, Claes Oldenburg, Robert Morris, and Anthony Caro, among many others. Their contemporary art works made this movement worthy of its present recognition.