Land Art

‘Land art’  is a conceptually-based approach approach to making art that emerged in the 1970s. The nature of earth and land art requires the media of film and photography to document outcomes and incorporates aspects of performance art and sculpture.

Land Art: The focus is not on describing the place itself, but representing the artist’s experience of visiting or travelling to or through it.

  • Hamish Fulton
  • Richard Long
  • Christo wrapping’ works
  • Jeanne-Claude wrapping’ works

Earth art: involves direct intervention with, and often use of, the raw materials of a landscape (e.g. rocks, plants, mud), and is generally made or presented in situ. In Malcolm Andrews’ words:

“The work of the Earth Artists cannot easily be identified with this or that particular object which the hands of the artist have made, but more with the relationship between that object (sometimes a mere rearrangement of on-site stones, for instance, or a line drawn on the desert floor) and the otherwise untouched site. The ‘landscape art’ in this case is that relationship.” (Andrews, 1999, p. 204 q Alexander 2013 p71)

Robert Smithson (1938–73), celebrated for his Spiral Jetty (1970) which is almost 0.5km in length and extends into the Great Salt Lake in Utah.

In relation to photography this raises the possibilities of manipulating the scene – going beyond simply tidying up strands of grass or intruding branches to constructing images to photograph – along the lines of Mohammad Barouissa’s constructed scenarios of conflict based on research and then staged. One could envisage something similar for eg environmental issues, or simply aesthetic effect.

A further element used by some land artists, and also painters like Kurt Jackson, are words added to images – might be handwritten or typed in an appropriate font and overlaid in Photoshop. Or simply titling and putting alongside the image as a meta-narrative. This could complement or give ironic contrast to the image.

Project 2.5: Text in art