Land art history

 

          The first Land art works appeared during the 1960’s in the United States then in Europe, at the same time as the first political and scientific trends involving a materialistic and consumerist society placing man at the centre of the universe.

          During the progressive urbanization, artistic creations were mainly developed in an increasingly socialized built environment; temples, churches, seigniorial residences remained the privileged places for the presentation of sculptures, frescoes and paintings before the appearance of private collections and museums from 18°sc.

          The artists of the Land art thus expressed their desire to leave the constraining milieu of the museums and galleries whose museographic presentation seemed too formal to them, while freeing themselves from the random artistic financial circuits of the establishment.

      For Land art artists, natural environments offer the opportunity for a new place of conceptual creation within a site with a prominent identity.

              Land art’s first works, “Earthwork”, were created in vast and often deserted areas of North America, particularly well suited to the creation of masterful works (Jim Denevan, Michel Heizer (Robert Schmitson).

Most often minimalist, they are sometimes similar by their spiritual or cosmological dimension to ancestral sculptures such as, dolmens, statuaries, symbolic plots.

          At the same time, were created more ephemeral artistic creations, poetic and intimate, leaving little impression on the landscape thanks to the use of non-manufactured elements

 

directly from nature (Andy Goldswarthy, Cornelia KonradsNils Udo).

They have, however, coexisted with monumental works also using exclusively natural materials (Patrick Dougherty, Guiliano Mauri, Nicolais Polissky).

      Then, artists influenced by the development of museum installations began to use manufactured materials such as textiles, glass, sawn wood offering more varied registers (Dale Chihuly, Mireille FulpiusEdith Meusnier).

           Other types of works sometimes walk the fine line between Land art and sculpture; they have been created in harmony with a predetermined landscape. Of often imposing scale, they cannot be integrated into the walled walls of a museum (Richard Serra, Mauro Staccioli, Bernar Venet).

          The creations are sometimes made by architects or urban designers and are installed in large parks (Dani KaravanKengo Kuma, Kongjian Yu).

The boundaries of the Land art are therefore difficult to grasp and depend on the density of the links between the work and its natural context.

          All these works, usually originating from a government or private commission, are intended to animate cultural events that take place within historic sites, remarkable gardens or tourist circuits.

           Nevertheless, many of them are perishable in nature and can therefore only be perpetuated by photography and documented by publishing, galleries or museums.