About the Exhibition
Richard Long: New York Projects features White Quartz Ellipse at Doris C. Freedman Plaza and Brownstone Circle at the Seagram Building, as well as a series of subway posters.
Richard Long (b.1945, Bristol, England) is internationally recognized for his compelling sculptures, drawings, and text works. Based upon the activity of walking, he has pioneered new ways of thinking about the relationship between the artist and the environment. Since the mid-1960s, this British artist has undertaken many hundreds of long and short walks in places throughout the world including the Sahara Desert, the Sierras in California and close to his home in Bristol, England. On these journeys, Long creates powerful yet often ephemeral sculptures that use the simplest of means, such as a circle of stones that he documents photographically. These walks also provide Long with material for his text works, which both record the journey undertaken and transport the read to another time, place, and activity.
The idea is as inspired as it is simple. The artist declares that the world is his studio. Freed from all traditional bonds, left entirely to his own devices, he travels the world and makes it his workshop; it becomes his material, his working and living space, his archive, his chronometer, his research field, and his dwelling. The world defines and governs his rhythm, his radius of operations and the rules of his daily existence; it makes available to him its potential of memory and stored time.
The artist becomes the earth’s daily travelling companion, and in return he is able to garner its fantastic wealth of real images, undistorted and un-beautified. Across all political, social and ideological boundaries, the continents of the earth offer themselves as inexhaustible quarries of ideas for his work. Richard Long defines the earth as the locus of the self, but with no power-crazed aspiration to ownership, no false explanations, no sentimental narcissism, and no pantheistic inflation.
Stones, water, sky, mountains, light: everything as it is. The works no longer present themselves as Richard Long’s. For Long, this is the artistic crux. His works, in all their laconic simplicity, convey the impression of a power and urgency that is generated, as it were, from within themselves. This is entirely the consequence of the rigorous artistic rules that Long has set for his own work: walking and action related to his own person, in the real space of landscape; scale; closeness to materials; temporal and spatial relation to nature; reduction to elementary forms; striving for objectivity.
Long thus eliminates from his work both the Romantic apotheosis of nature and all misconceived attempts to equate art with nature. His sculptures, photographs, texts and wall pieces are works of art: they are neither substitutes for nature nor affirmative metaphors for it. His works are real stones, real time, real walking; so real that they can be understood anywhere on earth, irrespective of all differences of language, culture, socialization or intellect. Perhaps this is where their particular significance lies. Beyond all art-historical evaluation, they turn the earth, potentially into a single, equal place of sensory and mental wealth for every human being.