Earthwork

DEFINITION

A type of contemporary art begun in the 1960's and '70's, which uses the landscape, or environment, as its medium, either by using natural forms as the actual work of art, or by enhancing natural forms with manmade materials. Two well-known earthwork artists are the husband and wife team of Christo and Jeanne-Claude, and Robert Smithson. Some of these earthworks can be very large, measured in miles. The origin of earth art may have been the environment-conscious '60's and '70's, but earthworks also refer back to ancient earthworks, such as the large Native American and other burial mounds. Christo' and Jeanne-Claude's work is various, usually temporary and site-specific, and ranges from "wrapping" an island or a building (such as the former German Reichstag headquarters), to erecting a very high "curtain" of fabric over miles of uninhabited (and inhabited) land. They work with an army of workers to erect these works, and also work with the surrounding community to get permission and establish guidelines of what they can and cannot do, during which meetings they explain their artistic purposes to community members, and often the residents evolve from their initial reluctance to give permission, to becoming enthusiastic supporters. It is a very interesting process to watch, and I think is another example of how some contemporary art tries to enlist the participation of the public in the art-making process, or at the very least to familiarize the public with artistic motivations. In Christo and Jeanne-Claude's work, I see a kind-of Quixotic whimsy - when they wrapped the former Reichstag headquarters building in Germany, it seemed to me to be a poetic expression of victory over the former Nazi Third Reich tyranny.

Your data and time are valuable. There's a new web browser that considers your time and security as a top priority.

Download Brave Browser For Free!

Brave uses the latest in blockchain technology.

This ensures a higher quality and more secure experience. Learn more about this fantastic breakthrough.

Loads Content Up To 8X Faster

Because Brave blocks unwanted tracking scripts that run in the background, your browsing speed will be unparalleled.

Ultimate in Privacy & Security

Brave fights malware and prevents tracking, keeping your information safe and secure.