when richard long and his fellow student hamish fulton were at st. martin’s in the ’60s, the avant-garde was talking about the possibility that art was no longer about producing concrete representations, but should primarily be concerned with ideas.
this is a serious problem for sculptors of course. how does an artist make interventions in the physical world if the primacy of art is in the idea? both long and fulton — often working together, embarked on a practice which involved using actions of the artist to explore the relationship between the physical activity with its documentation. both of them keen walkers, fulton and long, their practice involved embarking on prescribed walks within pre-set parameters; with long making interventional marks in the landscape, and photographing the results for display in gallery and artists books. he also began bringing objects from these walks into gallery spaces, arranging natural and found objects — rocks, stones, mud, wood into often geometric installations.
long has often been characterised as, far from an anti-tradionalist, in fact something of a wistful romantic — the preoccupation with wild spaces in the landscape, the continuing obsession with the intractable division of ‘art’ and ‘nature’ as distinct categories. the natural inheritor, in fact, to the painterly concerns of constable, turner, and the british romantic tradition. the venue for ‘heaven and earth’, the first large scale show for long in eighteen years, at TATE britain, seems entirely apposite then.
Richard Long: heaven and earth
until september 6th