Land Art Missed Lecture Madison Dye Extra Credit

Madison Dye Missed Lecture makeup: February 2, Land Art

In class on February 2, we discussed Land Art and looked at a variety of different types and different artists. The prolific Walter de Maria,Richard Long, and Michael Heizer who works with large scale projects, are three influential land artists of their time. One of Michael Heizer’s most famous works is Double Negative, made in Nevada in 1969. This piece has inspired a long term debate that can be applied to many land art pieces. The question of whether to preserve and maintain these pieces or simply let nature take over ad lose them forever, is one that has plagued art historians for decades. Another very famous piece that begs this same question is Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty, a spiral of ricks leading out into the water in Utah. My favorite work from this lecture is Walter de Maria’s Lightning Fields from 1977, in New Mexico. I really like this piece because of the patience you have to devote to experiencing the full effect. Maria intended for this piece to be viewed alone or in a small group, over a 24 hour period. This long time frame is because with every change in position of the sun, the tall stainless steel poles, all 400 of them, change their appearance. When the sun is directly overhead, they become almost completely invisible. This piece is not something you can simply walk by in a museum and forget about. To get the full intended effect requires multiple days, many miles traveled to get there, and many hours of intense focus and contemplation.

Another work that i found to be very interesting is the Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s “Surrounded Islands” in Miami in 1980-1983. At first this work seemed completely pointless to me, and i found myself focusing only on how much money was spent and the possible detriments to the environment.  Putting up something so obtrusive and costly seemed completely pointless and i couldnt help but think of all of the better uses for that money. After looking at it for a while longer, and reading the artists statements and reasons for doing it, i began to understand and appreciate it. This piece, although serving no obvious function, is a tribute to nature and although the only way to have seen it in real life is from a helicopter or plane, even with the pictures alone there is no denying that it is beautiful, shocking, and thought provoking. As long as land art has no negative effect on the environment, i think it is an interesting concept.

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