Land Art is one of the significant art movements of the 20th century; it originated in the late 1960s mainly from the USA. Artists left conventional exhibition space, choosing instead landscape as the contextual field of their art practice. Works are mostly created with, and from, nature, and dissolve into nature again.

The earliest examples in particular are informed by a minimalist form vocabulary. Geometric structures are inscribed as monumental drawings on the surface of the world: Michael Heizer, for example, had the desert soil of Morman Mesa in Nevada excavated to create the shapes of two geometric negative sculptures for Double Negative (1969/70). Instead of using a brush or pencil, the land artist works with a bulldozer, making the world his canvas. Walter De Maria measured out a stretch of desert with a mile-long line on the ground.

In 1969, it was Gerry Schum who coined the term Land Art to refer to nature-related art projects. He made several documentaries for German TV about land art projects by, mostly, American and also a number of European artists, among them pioneers in the field like Michael Heizer, Walter De Maria, or Robert Smithson.

2019 now marks the 50th anniversary of Land Art. Given the mostly ephemeral and processual character of the works, film and photography have come to be the adequate media for the documentation of the art. In the Krems exhibition, we show, aside from the films of Gerry Schum, two moving image works that depict iconic Land Art projects in the first hour: Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty of 1970, a mud and stone spiral piled up by loaders just off the shore of the Great Salt Lake in Utah, as well as Nancy Holt’s Sun Tunnels, perforated massive concrete tunnels installed 1976 in the Great Basin Desert in Utah.

The classics from the pioneer era of Land Art will be juxtaposed with a contemporary Austrian position. Josef Trattner’s Sofafahrten navigate the space of landscape like in his most recent project which followed the course of the Danube river form Donaueschingen, Germany, all the way to the Black Sea. It will be documented in the exhibition in a video and in photos and drawings. Art and culture personalities from the river regions of the Danubian countries sat down with the artist for a conversation on the pink sofa floating in the water, among them Florian Steininger, artistic director of the Kunsthalle Krems.

Curator: Florian Steininger

Artists exhibited: Nancy Holt, Gerry Schum, Robert Smithson, Josef Trattner

Land Art
14.07–03.11.2019
Kunsthalle Krems

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