The last I heard of artists, Christo and Jean-Claude was when I checked in on their latest project, Over the River as they were in the middle of securing the permits necessary to shroud almost six miles of the Arkansas River in luminous fabric panels. Their work has always astounded me and turned my attention to other land artists not only incorporating the natural world into their work but also relocating sections of it into galleries and surrounding museum walls.
Last month, the MOCA Geffen Contemporary in Los Angeles not only highlighted the work of Christo and Jean-Claude but also currently has on display the works of a handful of pioneers who turned the art world’s attention to video, sculpture and installation art in the outdoors before “land art” even became a thing. End of the Earth: Land Art to 1974 is the first retrospective of its kind, recontextualizing the way we see the natural world.
Inspired by a trip to Death Valley, Alice Aycock’s Clay #2 is the result of coalescing earth and air, as the dry lake bed inspired piece changes over time. John Baldessari shows his love for the Golden State by spelling out C-A-L-I-F-O-R-N-I-A in a variety of mediums. A number of outside pieces come in like Helen Mayer Harrison and Newton Harrison’s, Hog Pasture: Survival Piece #1 that attracted so many flying insects they almost become part of the exhibit. Michael Snow’s Le Region Centrale is also a stand out piece showing exactly what happens when a camera is left to run on its own fixated on a seemingly static landscape animated only by the camera’s movements.
I think it’s safe to say that many of us don’t appreciate the outdoors enough, especially when getting in touch with nature can be as simple as taking a walk. Ends of the Earth is an even more interesting way to view first hand what we take for granted displayed in such a way that it makes what’s most familiar seem almost alien.
Art in the order of appearance: Clay #2, 1971/2012 by Alice Aycock, La régeion centrale, 1971 by Michael Snow, Hog Pasture: Survival Piece #1, 1970-71 by Helen Mayer Harrison and Newton Harrison.
Can’t make it to the MOCA? Taschen has an affordable alternative book available on Amazon.