Roni Horn (b1955)

March 9, 2011

     For the past 30 years, the work of Roni Horn has been intimately involved with the singular geography, geology, climate and culture of Iceland. Since her first encounter with the island as a young arts graduate visiting from the United States, Horn has returned to Iceland frequently over the years. Iceland has been muse and medium to Roni Horn.

      Horn explores the mutable nature of art through sculptures, works on paper, photography, and books. She describes drawing as the key activity in all her work because drawing is about composing relationships. Horn’s drawings concentrate on the materiality of the objects depicted. She also uses words as the basis for drawings and other works. Horn crafts complex relationships between the viewer and her work by installing a single piece on opposing walls, in adjoining rooms, or throughout a series of buildings.

She subverts the notion of ‘identical experience’, insisting that one’s sense of self is marked by a place in the here-and-there, and by time in the now-and-then. She describes her artworks as site-dependent, expanding upon the idea of site-specificity associated with Minimalism. Horn’s work also embodies the cyclical relationship between humankind and nature—a mirror-like relationship in which we attempt to remake nature in our own image.

    Weather, inspired by her experiences on Iceland, has played an important role in Roni Horn’s work. One example is Vatnasafn/Library of Water and installation in Stykkisholmur that is made up of water collected from Icelandic glaciers.

“Weather, is the key paradox of our time. Weather that is nice is often weather that is wrong. The nice is occurring in the immediate and individual, and the wrong is occurring system-wide.”

Richard Long (b1945)

March 9, 2011

Richard Long (b1945)

     Richard Long first came to prominence during the late 1960s. He was among a generation of British artists who wanted to extend the possibilities of sculpture beyond the confines of traditional materials.

     Long’s work is rooted in his deep affinity with nature, developed during solitary walks. Many of his walks have taken him through remote areas of Britain while others have been as far afield as Nepal, Africa, Mexico and Bolivia. While travelling, Long sets himself specific tasks, such as walking a straight line for a predetermined distance, following the source of a river, or picking up and dropping stones at intervals along the route. He never makes permanent alterations to the landscapes he passes through, but rearranges natural materials to form simple, geometric shapes.

     Long’s journeys are documented with photographs, maps, wall drawings and printed statements. He has explained that while his sculptural works feed the senses, the text works feed the imagination. Although much of his work is made in the landscape and known through photography, Long also brings natural materials into the gallery space. Somerset Willow Line and Cut Slate Ellipse, are two key examples of works made specifically for an architectural setting


A Line Made by Walking  1967
Photograph on paper with hand written title
image: 825 x 1125 mm – on paper, print

James Turrell

March 8, 2011

     James Turrell is best known for his work in progress, Roden Crater. He acquired the crater in 1979.  Located outside Flagstaff, Arizona,  Turrell is turning this natural cinder volcanic crater into a massive naked-eye observatory, designed specifically for the viewing of celestial phenomena.

His other works usually enclose the viewer in order to control their perception of light; a James Turrell skyspace is an enclosed room large enough for roughly 15 people. Inside, the viewers sit on benches along the edge to view the sky through an opening in the roof. He is also known for his light tunnels and light projections that create shapes that seem to have mass and weight, though they are created with only light. As a lifelong quaker, Turrell designed the Live Oak Meeting House for the Society of Friends, with an opening or skyhole in the roof, wherein the notion of light takes on a decidedly religious connotation. His work “Meeting,”,  is a recreation of such a meeting house.




His work Acton is a very popular exhibit at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. It consists of a room that appears to have a blank canvas on display, but the “canvas” is actually a rectangular hole in the wall, lit to look otherwise. Security guards are known to come up to unsuspecting visitors and say “Touch it! Touch it!”

Turrell’s works defy the accelerated habits of people especially when looking at art. He feels that viewers spend so little time with the art that it makes it hard to appreciate.

“I feel my work is made for one being, one individual. You could say that’s me, but that’s not really true. It’s for an idealized viewer. Sometimes I’m kind of cranky coming to see something. I saw the Mona Lisa when it was in L.A., saw it for 13 seconds and had to move on. But, you know, there’s this slow-food movement right now. Maybe we could also have a slow-art movement, and take an hour”.

Environment Art

March 8, 2011


     Art form based on the premise that a work of art should invade the totality of the architecture around it and be conceived as a complete space rather than being reducible to a mere object hanging on a wall or placed within a space. This idea, which became widespread during the 1960s and 1970s in a number of different aesthetic formulations, can be traced back to earlier types of art not usually referred to as environments: the wall paintings of ancient tombs, the frescoes of Roman or of Renaissance art and the paintings of Baroque chapels, which surround the spectator and entirely cover the architectural structure that shelters them. Indeed, the whole of art history prior to the transportable easel picture is linked to architecture and hence to the environment.

       Chris Drury instituted a work entitled “Medicine Wheel” which was the fruit and result of a daily meditative walk, once a day, for a calendar year. The deliverable of this work was a mandala of mosaiced found objects: nature art as process art.

       Committed Environmental artists such as the British sculptor Richard Long has for several decades made temporary outdoor sculptural work by rearranging natural materials found on the site, such as rocks, mud and branches, and which will have no lingering detrimental effect. Crop artist Stan Herd shows similar connection with and respect for the land. While leading Environmental artists such as the Dutch sculptor Herman de Vries, the Australian sculptor John Davis and the British sculptor Andy Goldsworthy similarly leave the landscape they have worked with unharmed, and in some cases have in the process of making their work revegetated with appropriate indigenous flora land that had been damaged by human use.

            In the last two decades significant environmentally-concerned work has also been made by Rosalie Gascoigne, who fashioned her serene sculptures from rubbish and junk she found discarded in rural areas, Patrice Stellest, who created big installations with junk, but also pertinent items collected around the world and solar energy mechanisms, and John Wolseley, who hikes through remote regions, gathering visual and scientific data, then incorporates visual and other information into complex wall-scale works on paper. Environmental art or Green art by Washington, DC based glass sculptors Erwin Timmers and Alison Sigethy incorporate some of the least recycled building materials; structural glass.

Andy Goldsworthy

March 8, 2011

The materials used in Andy Goldsworthy’s art often include brightly-coloured flowers, icicles, leaves, mud, pinecones, snow, stone, twigs, and thorns. He has been quoted as saying,

“I think it’s incredibly brave to be working with flowers and leaves and petals. But I have to: I can’t edit the materials I work with. My remit is to work with nature as a whole.”

 Goldsworthy is generally considered the founder of modern rock balancing. For his ephemeral works, Goldsworthy often uses only his bare hands, teeth, and found tools to prepare and arrange the materials; however, for his permanent sculptures like “Roof”, “Stone River” and “Three Cairns”, “Moonlit Path” ( 2002) and “Chalk Stones” in the South Downs, near  Dean, Sussex  he has also employed the use of machine tools.  To create “Roof”, Goldsworthy worked with his assistant and five British dry-stone wallers, who were used to make sure the structure could withstand time and nature.

 Photography plays a crucial role in his art due to its often ephemeral and transient state. According to Goldsworthy,

“Each work grows, stays, decays – integral parts of a cycle which the photograph shows at its heights, marking the moment when the work is most alive. There is intensity about a work at its peak that I hope is expressed in the image. Process and decay are implicit.”

 Goldsworthy produced a commissioned work for the entry courtyard of San Francisco’s  De Young Museum called “Drawn Stone”, which echoes San Francisco’s frequent earthquakes and their effects. His installation included a giant crack in the pavement that broke off into smaller cracks, and broken limestone, which could be used for benches. The smaller cracks were made with a hammer adding unpredictability to the work as he created it.

Drawn Stone (2005)

“I find some of my new works disturbing, just as I find nature as a whole disturbing. The landscape is often perceived as pastoral, pretty, beautiful – something to be enjoyed as a backdrop to your weekend before going back to the nitty-gritty of urban life. But anybody who works the land knows it’s not like that. Nature can be harsh – difficult and brutal, as well as beautiful. You couldn’t walk five minutes from here without coming across something that is dead or decaying.”

Rosalie Gascoigne

March 8, 2011

Rosalie Gascoigne   (1917 – 1999)

She said that her art-making materials “need to have been open to the weather.” She thus used mostly found materials: wood, iron, wire, feathers, and most famously yellow and orange retro-reflective road signs, which flash and glow in the light. Some of her other best-known works use faded, once-bright drinks crates; thinly-sliced yellow schweppes boxes; ragged domestic items such as torn floral lino and patchy enamelware; vernacular building materials such as galvanized tin, corrugated iron; and fibrous, rosy cable reel ends. These objects represent, rather than accurately depict, elements of her world.

“The countryside’s discards … no longer suggest themselves but evoke experiences, particularly of landscape.”

Text is another important element of her work; she would cut up and rearrange the faded, naive lettering found on these items to create abstract yet evocative grids of letters and word fragments, sometimes alluding to the crosswords and poetry of which she was so fond.

Knowledgeable and widely read, she was inspired amongst others by the artists Colin McCahon, Ken Whisson, Dick Watkins and Robert Rauchenberg,  and the poets William Wordsworth, Peter Porter and Sylvia Plath.  She also had a fondness for the pronouncements of  Pablo Picasso. However gradually both colour and text seemed to fade from her work, and in her final years she created meditative, elegiac compositions of white or earth-brown panels.