Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Surrounded Islands, Biscayne Bay, Greater Miami, Florida, 1980-83
As we saw with Conceptual and Pop art, the idea of the art object as a unique object, and questions about the importance of the IDEA behind art, were around from the 1960s . Another artform was Earth Art (aka land art, or earth works) which involved using materials of the earth and creating the work out in the environment; getting away from an art object in a gallery that could be bought and sold.(Andy Goldsworthy is a contemporary version of this.) An early pioneer was Robert Smithson (US, 1938-1973.) Smithson was interested in creating artthat was part of the earth itself. Aerial view Spiral Jetty, 1970, black basalt rock and local earth, Great Salt Lake Utah USA. 457m long x 45m wide.
Native American Bear Mound Effigy Ceremony
How have artists interacted with the land (or the idea of land) in the past? Romanticism looked at the power and terror of the natural world, and the relative powerlessness of humanity. (To some, this could speak of the power of God.) This awe-inspiring aspect of Nature was called the Sublime. Theodore Gericault (French, 1791-1824) The raft of the Medusa, 1819, oil on canvas, 491 x 716cm
More terror from Nature: JMW Turner: Snowstorm: Hannibal and his army crossing the Alps, 1812.
The French Impressionists responded to the increasingly urban environment; or else depicted the middle classes at leisure. Either way, the landscape tended to be the ordered backdrop to civilisation. Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Boating on the Seine, c.1879 Claude Monet, Wheatstacks, midday, 1890-91
The Australian Impressionists suggested the rightness and nobility of taming of the land…the idea that mankind was in charge, so all is well. The civilising influence of mankind. Arthur Streeton, Golden Summer Eaglemont 1889
The Surrealists usedthe landscape as a symbol of the unconscious mind, or a dreamscape. Giorgio De Chirico, The Red Tower, 1913. Here De Chirico creates his ‘theatrical’ scape. Salvador Dali, THE HAND. THE REMORSE OF CONSCIENCE 1930
Walter De Maria (US, b. 1935): Lightning field, 1977 This installation is in a remote desert location in New Mexico USA. 400 stainless steel poles are laid out in a grid 1 mile x 1 km. They are approx 6 metres high and embedded so that their tops are all on a flat plane. The area receives frequent lightning strikes, average 60 days per year which is one of the reasons it was chosen. It is beautiful to be seen at any time though; best at dusk and dawn as the poles are most visible then. Only 6 people are allowed onsite at any one time, and they have to pay to go out there and stay overnight. It is only open for several months of the year and is several hours drive from nearest town.
Christo and Jeanne-Claude do not use natural earth-based materials (and in fact they don’t use the title ‘Land art’, preferring ‘Environmental Art.’ Ok then.) They use industrially-produced materials, which they are careful to recycle after their works are taken down. They interact with both natural and man-made structures with site-specificinstallations, that is, structures/artworks/creations that respond specifically and uniquely to a certain site. Valley Curtain, Grand Hogback, Rifle Colorado, 1972. The curtain is 381m wide, and from 55 to 110m high. Try to imagine how this would have looked, if you were there in person. How might we respond to this work?
In Wrapped Trees, the billowing fabric and it’s qualities of opacity or transparency create interesting forms, and encourage us to consider the subject in a new way. In an interesting contrast with, say the work of Jackson Pollock, they are interested in their work being ‘… a work of joy and beauty…’ (Christo & Jeanne-Claude website.) Using the conceptual framework, how could we describe this attitude? Wrapped trees, Riehen Switzerland, 1998 – two views
Wrapped coast, one million square feet, Little Bay Australia, 1969 In 1969, Christo and Jeanne-Claude came to Australia to do their first big wrap project. At the time this was the largest artwork ever constructed. It covered a 2.4 km stretch of coastline and cliff face in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney, on the grounds of Prince Henry Hospital. The project was made possible by John Kaldor Projects. Professional mountain climbers as well as artists, teachers and art and architecture students were employed over 4 weeks to make it happen. It stayed up for 10 weeks. http://www.christojeanneclaude.net/videos/interview-with-christo-about-wrapped-coast http://www.christojeanneclaude.net/videos/wrapped-coast
C & J-C do lecture tours about their work. This is actually regarded as part of the work. They raise money by selling the preparatory sketches and lithographs of drawings of their work. They fund all their own projects and do not take any sponsorships or grant funding. It is very important to them to remain completely independent with regard to where and what they do. Obviously, they have to work in with governments and all sorts of bureaucracies to get the projects done. Again, this is part of the artwork. Many projects don’t get actually made because they don’t get permission. Others can take years to come together (Wrapped Trees took 32 years and was planned for various other venues before they got the Swiss to agree.) The Gates, Central Park NYC, 2005
HSC Short answer question Q: Apply the structural frame to describe techniques used in Plate 1. Plate 1: Sarah Fordham, (b . 1974, Australian) Pokeepskie, 2007, acrylic, oil and enamel paint on canvas, 120 x 90cm
Resources http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lU5oBJ0zoV8&feature=related Christo & Jeanne-Claude: http://www.christojeanneclaude.net/ Felicity Fenner, ‘The Nature of Art’, Art and Australia, Autumn 2007, Vol 44, no.3 Robert Smithson: http://www.robertsmithson.com/index_.htm http://umfa.utah.edu/spiraljetty National Gallery of Art, Washington DC: http://www.nga.gov/exhibitions/2002/christo/curtain.shtm Richard Long:http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/long-silence-circle-big-bend-texas-t06472/text-summary Andy Goldsworthy: http://www.ucblueash.edu/artcomm/web/w2005_2006/maria_Goldsworthy/biography.html