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Earth Art   Tags: earth_art, earthworks, land_art, libguides  

Guide to resources on Earth Art: "Land art, Earthworks, or Earth art is an art movement which emerged in the United States in the late 1960s and early 1970s, in which landscape and the work of art are inextricably linked".
Last Updated: Aug 2, 2012 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

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Land art, Earthworks, or Earth art is  "a broad-based, international movement of the 1960s and 1970s, embracing artists such as Alan Sonfist, Nancy Holt, and Richard Long, which rejected the commercialization of art and supported the emerging ecological movement. Earth art took many different forms including the landscaping of urban sites, massive earth sculptures in the desert, and the recording of journeys through the landscape" (Oxford Art Online).

Earth art/ Earthworks: Large-scale interventions in the landscape, made with the intention of incorporating the features and/or meanings of the site's natural and/or historical conditions. Earth art emerged in the 1960s and peaked in popularity during the 1970s, reflecting the period's critique of commercialism, embrace of nonsectarian spirituality, and newborn enthusiasm for ecological issues. Because of the works' characteristically remote locations, photographic documentation provided access for most viewers. Much earth art thus shared with conceptual art a similar attitude about the role of photography as an intermediary in the aesthetic experience. Earth art also overlapped with process art in those instances that incorporated an intentional role for natural forces. Virginia Dwan's New York gallery introduced the tendency in an “Earth Works” show of October 1968 , underwrote a number of the most compelling monuments, and generally served as the movement's headquarters. (After the gallery closed in 1971 , Dwan intermittently continued her patronage.) The concept of Land art was established by an exhibition at the Dwan Gallery, New York, in 1968 and an exhibition ‘Earth Art’ at Cornell University in 1969. The Dwan exhibition included the photographic records of Sol Lewitt's Box in a Hole (the burial of a steel cube) and Walter De Maria's Mile Long Drawing (two parallel white lines traced in the Nevada desert). These belong equally (if not more) to the category of Conceptual art, but De Maria has also filled rooms with earth, and other artists have brought materials such as rocks and twigs into the gallery (Oxford reference online).




(Source: Cornell Department of Horticulture)

A group of Cornell students build what may be the largest temporary art work in Ithaca's history. The ephemeral installation, unveiled on May 11, 2008 was titled Turfwork!

The flower-like design covered more than an acre and was intended to be viewed from the air. Marcia Eames-Sheavly, Senior Extension Associate in Cornell University's Department of Horticulture, along with artist Jeff de Castro, guided the students through a rigorous semester-long creative process that led to the design and installation of the piece. They "painted" their design into the grass using mulch, straw and black plastic to temporarily turn the grass yellow in places.

The work was made possible by grant from Cornell Council for the Arts (source:


Earth Art artists


James Turrell, Celestial Vault: Kijkduin, Den Haag. The Netherlands, 1996 (Source: by Maurits Burgers on Flickr).


Andy Goldsworthy, 2004-2005.
Buckingham Virginia Slate.
National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
(Source: by thomwatson on Flickr).


Sol LeWitt. Double Negative Pyramid in Europos Parkas/Lithuania, 2008 (Source: by Arz on Wikimedia commons).


Some Earth Art artists: (source: Oxford reference online) 

  • Alice Aycock
  • Walter De Maria
  • Andy Goldsworthy
  • Hans Haacke
  • Michael Heizer
  • Nancy Holt
  • Christo Javachef
  • Sol Lewitt 
  • Richard Long
  • Mary Miss
  • Robert Smithson
  • Alan Sonfist
  • James Turrell

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    This guide was originally created by, and used with the permission of Maaike Oldemans.


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