What is a land artist?
To be honest this is a question I asked
myself when I came across an article on
it. The movement emerged during the 1960's
and 70's in part as a statement in
opposition to the idea that gallery's
and museums were the only places of
At the same time, there was a growing
interest in ecology and questions
surrounding negative impacts
on the environment.
Sun Tunnels - Nancy Holt
Nancy Holt began her artistic exploration
as a photographer and video artist after
studying biology in college in the 1950's.
She later married environmental artist
Robert Smithson who became recognized in
this area as well.
Ms. Holt has a rich body of work and
used her photography in part to share her
art with a larger population.
A lot of her land art speaks to her
interest in optics and is thus connected
in many ways to photography. In this piece
"Hydra's Head" a series of concrete
Hydra's Head - Nancy Holt
cylinders were submerged into
the existing landscape becoming
part of it vs. sitting upon it. Furthermore,
the arrangement of the cylinders
mirrors that of the hydra constellation you can
observe in the sky. Within the piece, there
are multiple levels in which to engage and
connect with the earth around us.
Holt was interested in the connection between
nature and the stars and engaging people with
the earth around them. She is quoted as having
said "I feel that the need to look at the sky-at
the moon and the stars-is very basic, and it
is inside all of us. So when I say my work is an
exteriorization of my own inner reality, I mean
I am giving back to people through art what
they already have in them."
("Touching the Sky:
Artworks Using Natural Phenomena, Earth, Sky
and Connections to Astronomy" Janet Saad-Cook, Charles Ross,
Nancy Holt, James Turrell)
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