Land Art

The Land Art movement also known as Earthworks or Earth art occurred in the US, UK and across mainland Europe during the 60s and 70s. Though Land Art covers a wide range of different styles and outcomes, the overall common trait is that of using nature and the natural world as the canvas or materials of the artwork. The Land Art movement was part of the large conceptual art movement that also happened during the same time. This aimed at shifting the focus of an artwork from the appearance and physical outcome to the concept and idea of the piece being more important to its value. The proponents of the movement also wanted to move away from the conventions of museums and galleries. The main difference between those operating in the US and other parts of the world was scale, the vast landscape of the US allowed for massive works the took heavy machinery and even explosives to create. Were as works in Europe were on a smaller scale and had more focus on concept.  The movement came from a broader opposition to conventional art and the institutes it was housed in, but also from more general anti-establishment movements and environmentally conscious movements. The nature of the work meant that it produced a large variety of work as the landscape as well as materials used would have a drastic affect on the final outcome. Building into the conceptual nature of the movement was the skillset needed to create these works, unlike other movements an artist creating Earthworks didn’t need any proficiency in painting or drawing and the skills needed to create these works was often just manual labour with some projects being assisted by builders and construction workers. The movement never achieved main stream success, probably because it avoided the museums and galleries that helped showcase artworks to an audience and still remains a smaller less well known movement. With that being the case there are still contemporary artists as well as some from the original movement that are creating works today, with a lot of new works being more environmentally conscious.

Robert Smithson, Spiral Jetty, 1970
Michael Heizer, Double Negative, 1969-1970
Walter di Maria, The Lightning Field, 1977
Nancy Holt, Sun Tunnels, 1973-76. Great Basin Desert, Utah.