Nature and Art

Posted by Jhan Dudley on

Often times in our busy lives, we seem to take some of the important things for granted. The complex beauty of nature has inspired many artists whether it is the array of colors in a sunset or the natural geometry of a pine cone. Some take the beauty and transpose it into an entirely new medium such as a canvas, wall or sculpture; however, some artists actually manipulate nature and turn it into art. This is most commonly called "Land Art," yet also referred to as "earth art," "earthworks" or "environmental art."

Land Art

Michael Heizer was one of the first artists to create Land Art. He is most well-known for his giant project in the Nevada Desert entitled, "Double Negative." It consisted of a 1,500-foot-long trench, which was naturally created by the displacement of rocks. On either side of this long trench are two man made trenches, thus it consisted of two negative spaces, one man made and one naturally occurring. Heizer saw the beauty in what was not there, for it was the negative space that made the piece what it was. This giant piece, which obviously could not be moved, was one of the first that made people question, "What is art if it cannot be put into a museum?"

Andy Goldsworthy

took this new idea of land art to a smaller and more feasible level. Every time you are on a hike, and you see some rocks balancing on top of each other, you have Andy Goldsworthy to thank. He is known as the first to start the worldwide fad of rock balancing. His simple and ephemeral works of land art are created using anything that he can find in his surroundings. He wanted to be able to connect with nature as directly as possible, so he starting creating art by balancing rocks, placing leaves together in a pattern, or moulding icicles formations. Machinery was never used in his pieces besides for a rare few that were public commissions. Spit holds the leaves together, mud helps the rocks to stick, and the heat of his hands melts the ice into his desired shape.

Patrick Daughtery

He specialized in creating art that looks as if it was found not made. Daughtery was inspired by nests, animal lairs, cocoons and hives which he found in nature. He would interweave sticks and twigs together. In order to create these nests -- never worrying about how long the art would last.

Other land artists prefer to work on an even more delicate scale. Artists Walter Mason and Richard Shilling specialize in art using leaves. Walter Mason created very intricate and ornate carvings with leaves.

Richard Shilling

Often incorporates the use of geometry into his art as he places leaves together with sticks, often resembling mandalas. He prefers to use colours that represent the seasons. Both of these artists take small, usually unnoticeable things, and turn them into true pieces of art. They succeed in creating admiration for the talent of the artist, but also nature.

Martin Hill and his wife Philippa Jones are modern land artists who seek to create their art on an even deeper, more metaphorical level. They travel around the world to beautiful remote places creating semi-circles made of ice, stone or twig  on top of bodies of water. Through the use of a camera, they capture the piece at the perfect time. When the reflection on the water creates a full "circle of life." The photographs require a very calm reflection on the water in order for the circle to become perfect and complete.

Cornelia Konrads

is another amazing land artist who creates site-specific installations in public spaces. Her work has a common theme of the top portion of the structure to seemingly be floating into the sky. She uses stones, sticks and other natural materials, putting them into "piles." The tips of these piles slowly lift up as if some gravitational force is pulling them up and away into the sky. Her pieces bring to the viewer a sense of magic back to nature as they mystify with their floating tufts.

Giuliano Mauri

also used this technique of creating a living sculpture with his "Tree Cathedral," which was finished in 2010 in Italy. This 90-foot-long, 80-foot-wide and up to 70-foot-tall "cathedral" was created entirely with living trees. Mauri had a vision of the piece transforming into something complete organic and new over time. He also planted 80 Hornbeam saplings inside. In 15 years, the piece will be entirely novel. The title of this project is based of the spiritual connection that one can feel with nature. This is not a real cathedral obviously, yet it offers viewers a place that truly looks and feels sacred.

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