Photography and land art

Earth Art or Land Art (from the Tate Guide to Modern Art Terms, 2016, page 159-60))

‘It can be seen as a part of the wider Conceptual art movement in the 1960s and 1970s. Land artists began working directly in the landscape, sculpting into earthworks or making structures with rocks or twigs. Some of them used mechanical earth-moving equipment, but Richard Long simply walked up and down until he had made a mark in the earth. Land art was usually documented in artworks using photographs and maps that the artist could exhibit in a gallery. Land artists also made artworks in the gallery by bringing in material from the landscape and using it to create installations.’

Famous land artists are: Robert Smithson (Spiral Jetty, 1970), Walter De Maria, Michael Heizer and Dennis Oppenheim.

As Creative Arts Today notes (page 164), photography has a special relationship with transient art forms, such as land art or performance art. In land art, the landscape itself becomes the artwork, and since many of these art forms are remote and ephemeral photographs and films are the only way they can survive and be seen also after their disappearance.


Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty (1970)

Spiral Jetty is an earthwork sculpture constructed in April 1970 that is considered to be the central work of American sculptor Robert Smithson. Smithson documented the construction of the sculpture in a 32-minute color film also titled Spiral Jetty.

Built on the northeastern shore of the Great Salt Lake near Rozel Point in Utah entirely of mud, salt crystals, and basalt rocks, Spiral Jetty forms a 1,500-foot-long (460 m), 15-foot-wide (4.6 m) counterclockwise coil jutting from the shore of the lake. (Wikipedia)



At: (Accessed 19/05/2017)


Hamish Fulton

‘Hamish Fulton (born 1946) is a British walking artist. Since 1972 he has only made works based on the experience of walks. He translates his walks into a variety of media, including photography, illustrations, and wall texts. Since 1994 he has begun practicing group walks. Fulton argues that ‘walking is an artform in its own right’ and argues for wider acknowledgement of walking art. Hamish Fulton is represented in London by Maureen Paley.'(Wikipedia)

In 2002 The Tate had an exhibition about his work: ‘Hamish Fulton: Walking Journey’, consisting of texts and photographs as documents.

The Cornwall Workshop, a weeklong intensive residential workshop for artists, curators and writers, organized in 2006 communal walks in Penzance led by Hamish Fulton of which photographs and videos were taken:


Penzance communal walk (2006)

Penzance communal walk (2006)


On him also an article in The Guardian (2012).


Andy Goldsworthy

Andy Goldsworthy (1956) is a British sculptor, photographer and environmentalist producing site-specific sculpture and land art situated in natural and urban settings. He lives and works in Scotland. (Wikipedia)

He keeps an artist website: and within it a section dedicated to his photography: in which he explains why and how he uses photographs.

Here is a video about Goldsworthy’s work:


There are several books on Goldsworthy’s work, one of the latest is: Andy Goldsworthy – Ephemeral Works 2004-2014, Abrams, New York

Book cover by Abrams, New York




Wilson, S. and Lack, J. (2008) The Tate Guide to Modern Art Terms. London: Thames and Hudson

Wikipedia article on Spiral Jetty (1970): (accessed 19/05/2017)

Vázquez-Concepción, A. R. (2013)  ‘The Spiral Jetty, 1970, by Robert Smithson’ At: (Accessed 19/05/2017)

Maureen Pauly Art Gallery, London: (Accessed 19/05/2017)

Wikipedia article on Jamish Fulton: (Accessed 19/05/2017)

The Cornwall Workshop: (Accessed 19/05/2017)

Cumming, L. (2012) ‘Hamish Fulton: Walk; Turner and the Elements – review’ In: 29.01.2012 [online] At: (Accessed 19/05/2017)

Wikipedia article on Andy Goldsworthy: (Accessed 19/05/2017)

Andy Goldsworthy’s website: (Accessed 19/05/2017)

Video on Andy Goldsworthy by xstuporman (2015) : (Accessed 19/05/2017)

Abrams, New York: (Accessed 19/05/2017)




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s