[14Feb22, p.84] The cmat. distinguishes between:
land art, described as a 1970s "conceptually-based approach to making artwork [focussing] not on describing the place itself, but representing the artist’s experience of visiting or travelling to or through it" (p.84). There seems a clear read-across here, New Topographies → Land Art = Windows → Mirrors.
and earth art or earthworks which were concerned with altering landscapes for artistic purposes. Andy Grundberg is a good source for the development (and demise) earth-based art (2021, pp.43-47).
The cmat. gives some examples of earth art, "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" (fig. A1).
Grundberg illustrates Smithson's Spiral Jetty (fig. A1), Heizer's Double Negative, (fig. A2), Haacke's Grass Grows (fig. A3), Smithson's The Great Pipes Monument (fig. A4), Jan Dibbets' Tide (fig. A5), Oppenheim's Accumulation Cut (fig. A6). Grundberg's full description on that last is, "Dennis Oppenheim and Gordon Matta-Clark executing Oppenheim's work Accumulation Cut for the Earth Art exhibition" (p.47).
The cmat. continues, "Hamish Fulton and Richard Long are the two most celebrated British practitioners and champions of land art. Long, in particular, has sought to distance his practice from the epic scale of works by Smithson and Michael Heizer" (p.84) because he regarded them as "capitalist" and would have disapproved of Christo's practice of wrapping up geological or man-made features as too interventionist.
River Avon Mud Circle, 2011
img: LPE p.85
And that leads is to the key point of this section: Fulton and Long favoured less obtrusive works and "the act of walking as an art form in itself" (LPE p.84, my emphasis). Richard Long's, River Avon Mud Circle (2011) is shown.
Large scale, permanently-sited works can only be shown to a wider audience through still and video photography and this gives them "a significant place within the narrative and discourse of landscape" (LPE p.85). According to Grundberg (2021), the photographing and filming of art works and performances was a key stage in the admittance of photography into galleries and museums.
We are directed to a talk by Clarrie Wallis, curator of Richard Long’s show Heaven and Earth, Tate Britain (2009): http://www.tate.org.uk/context-comment/audio/richard-long-curators-talk and Sean O’Hagan’s preview of same http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2009/may/10/art-richard-long (LPE p.85).
The curator's talk file at the Tate site is blank, but the O'Hagan interview is a delight. I'll quote extensively below, but my response is that that I have no particular wish to see any of it (or photographs of it) but I am very glad that it exists and that I know about it. Long is a Stealth Artist, a category I espouse (Fulton sounds a bit self-righteous).
The following are quotes from the O'Hagan piece, where he interviewed Long at his West Country home.
Back in 1964, when Richard Long was 18, he went for a walk on the downs near his native Bristol. The countryside was covered in snow, and faced with a pristine expanse of silent whiteness, he began rolling a snowball through it. When the snowball became too big to push any further, Long took out his camera. He did not take a snapshot of the giant snowball; instead, he photographed the dark meandering track it had left in the snow. The ensuing image, one of his earliest works of what is now called land art, is named Snowball Track. Pure and simple. And, in its purity and simplicity, it denoted all that would follow …
"All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking," wrote Nietzsche. Richard Long's great thought while walking was to make his walking into his art. In an illuminating catalogue essay for Heaven and Earth, Nicholas Serota, director of the Tate, writes, "In A Line Made by Walking (1967), a work made at the age of 22, Long changed our notion of sculpture and gave new meaning to an activity as old as man himself. Nothing in the history of art quite prepared us for the originality of his action."
Long's art, that it is often as transient and impermanent as anything in the natural world around it. The grass has long since grown back over the track he left that day in a field of wild flowers somewhere in England. It is quite conceivable that no one else actually saw the original work, or, if they did, recognised it as his, or indeed, as a work of art at all
"The idea of ephemerality was never my main interest, though. It's important to say that. Always my interest was to realise a particular idea. … the reason I made the work has really nothing to do with that. It is simply about making a line of stone in a particular place at a particular time."… "The idea of originality is important to me; the sense that, despite the many traditions of walking - the landscape walker, the walking poet, the pilgrim - it is always possible to walk in new ways."
Long doesn't see himself in the Romantic tradition of the solitary wanderer lost in thought. "What I do is not Wordsworthian," he says. "I am working out of an art tradition, but it's not Romantic. I'm not a tortured soul grappling with my demons or even struggling to make art. It's a pleasure. That is central to it for me." …
Among his fellow students [Saint Martins College of Art in London in the late 1960s] was George Passmore, later to become one half of Gilbert and George. (Long took the famous photo of the young pair, laughing, on the roof of Saint Martins.)
Another fellow student was Hamish Fulton, who has since become famous as "a walking artist", photographer and a painter, who, like Long, paints directly on to walls. The two are good friends and often go on walks together. "He's a bit more politically correct than me," quips Long, referring to Fulton's belief, best summed up in his creative motto, Take No Photographs, Leave No Footprints, that the landscape should not be altered for the sake of art. …
He pauses once more. "I guess I'm an opportunist, really. I go out into the world with an open mind, and I rely to a degree on intuition and chance. The idea of making art out of nothing, I've got a lot of time for that. Walking up and down a field, or carrying a stone in my pocket, it's almost nothing, isn't it?" Almost. O'Hagan, 2009
Liz Wells discusses both Long and Fulton quite extensively (2011 pp.285-88).