I thought my post titles should be a little more dramatic. This is about land art.
Land art comes in many varieties from large outdoor “earthworks” that manipulate entire environments to smaller, nature-based sculptures that could be seen in a forest or gallery. There are some artists that focus on the aesthetics of the landscape and some that focus on concepts in nature and environmentalism.
One of the original large-scale land artists is Robert Smithson, who coined the term earthworks for his type of art. His most famous work is “Spiral Jetty,” a spiraling jetty. Here are some more examples of earthworks:
This next one actually follows the fibonacci sequence, which is pretty cool:
And to show that this kind of art is nothing new, a couple examples of ancient earthworks:
I like the epic nature of all these works, and it would be really fun to come across one in real life.
Andy Goldsworthy’s work is a little more low-key than Smithson’s, but it’s by far some of my favorite art of any genre. He uses only what he finds in nature, including freezing icicles together and using thorns to hold leaves in place.
Some land art is meant to celebrate nature and some disregards environmental impact entirely, but “ecological artists” create pieces meant to directly help the environment or else create awareness.
Here’s a beautiful man-made hill by the artist Agnes Denes, which was built in an environmentally degraded area to provide more habitat:
Conceptual artist Mel Chin started the Revival Field, which is a garden enclosure on a toxic waste site that uses certain plants that clean up heavy metals. It’s art, science, and legitimately beneficial to the world which is all kinds of awesome.
Another solely conceptual (as in, not pretty) land art piece is by Betty Beaumont called Ocean Landmark. There aren’t any pictures of it because it’s sunk in murky water 40 miles off the New York coast on the continental shelf. It’s made of 17,000 coal fly-ash blocks which is processed coal waste, a potential pollutant, and provides the skeleton for a brand new ecosystem that’s still growing and thriving. In her own words:
“I processed 500 tons of an industrial waste product, laid it on the floor of the Atlantic and created a flourishing environment no one can see.”