Plants, Stone, California Landscapes


Posts Tagged ‘Goldsworthy’

Goldsworthy’s Clay Works for Runnymede

These are my photos of the Andy Goldsworthy piece at Runnymede. I kept them separate from the last post in part because I didn’t want a single post with 35 photos, but also because his work really does contrast with the rest of the sculptures on the property. He is the only land artist in the collection, and his is the only work that was designed and built onsite with materials from the site; he and the Runnymede staff made the clay with soil dug from the side of the road there at Runnymede, and then they used that excavation, resembling a slump in the road cut, as part of the piece. Also, his is the piece most clearly about negative space, not just the negative space inside the pots but also the negative space of the land itself; all of the other sculptures are essentially an object placed on the land, but his takes your eye down inside that land. And his is the only one that is really a sequence: you see the first pot and then another and another, and it builds into a little narrative as you walk along the trail. In some ways, I think the Runnymede collection as whole does this — your landscape experience builds out of what you’ve seen and your anticipation for what the next sculpture will be — but the Goldsworthy work does this on its own.

It was interesting to stand there, discussing it and observing people’s reactions. Most people liked it; some folks were not sure what to think of it, finding it perhaps overly subtle; a majority of them had heard of Goldsworthy and many were there specifically to see his piece, but fewer had seen Rivers and Tides than I expected. A few people power-walked past without even noticing it was there.

I’m not sure if you are supposed to see it from the bottom or the top, but there’s a clear evolution throughout the sequence whichever end you start at. The lower pots are more cracked and they sit more clearly perched on top of the land; the upper pots are more intact and more deeply embedded, culminating with the final pot sunk into the ground at the source of the clay. There’s an argument for starting at the top and walking along as the pots emerge and become more fragmented, perhaps an illustration of time or entropy; personally, I liked the sequence from the bottom, seeing the pots gradually take your focus into the earth, back to their origin, so that’s the order I’m showing. The entire sequence is below. (more…)

Andy Goldsworthy’s Stone River

I almost included this in my post about the Richard Serra sculpture at the Stanford museum, but it seemed like it should get its own post. It’s Stone River, one of several Andy Goldsworthy pieces in the Bay Area. The others are Drawn Stone at the De Young museum and Spire in the Presidio. This one is my favorite of the three. I love the snakelike form and the stylized coping stones. Vertical coping stones along the top of a wall are common, especially in Europe, but I’ve never seen them quite like this. It’s all built from rubble the university saved after the earthquakes of 1989 and 1906, 128 tons of stone, 320 feet long.

The whole thing is set into the ground with the top of the wall at grade. Because the color of the stone and the dirt match so closely, it sort of feels like someone took a big scoop of dirt and compressed it into the stone for the wall. I like to see how far I can get walking along the top (not very far).

Drawn Stone

Drawn Stone at the de Young Museum

Entrance to the de Young Museum

“Every time I hit a stone, it’s like my heart’s a little bit in my mouth.” Andy Goldsworthy

This Andy Goldsworthy installation, “Drawn Stone,” at the de Young is from 2005, but I didn’t have a blog back then and I’m generally slack about going to museums, so it’s just now that I’m checking it out and posting about it. Goldsworthy’s stone installations are always interesting to me, the way he often manages to (knowingly) break the rules about stonework while still remaining very attentive to and respectful of the craft. For instance, with “Drawn Stone,” the entire focus of the installation is a crack that runs through the sandstone pavers and slabs of the museum’s entrance. Installing a cracked paver is considered poor form, but he’s reveling in it, making it the entire focus of the installation. And in fact, it must have taken a lot of extra effort to crack the pavers and then match them up, so he even earns bonus points for doing something that would normally be frowned upon. Pretty bold.

The installation was originally named “Faultline,” but Goldsworthy changed the name along the way. I don’t know anything about the reasons for the change, but it seems like he somehow found out that Californians don’t really like earthquake-themed art, and so he decided to keep that aspect more low-key, the way Californians like it. In this case, it’s totally appropriate to have an earthquake theme — the new de Young was actually built because an earthquake made the old building unsafe — but it’s more in keeping with the local aesthetic to keep that aspect out of the title. And the piece is overall fairly subtle, anyways; several people didn’t notice it until I took out my camera and started snapping photos.

Goldsworthy is always an interesting talker, and KQED’s website has a 2005 segment about the installation with him talking about learning to break pavers (the best way is to just whack them with a hammer) and other aspects of the piece. The museum website has his artist’s statement along with a photo of him on top of one of the slabs, holding a sledgehammer, with the wedges and feathers still in the slab. It’s a fair bit of work to split a slab that big, but it must have been satisfying. Photos of cracked pavers and slabs are below. (more…)

New Goldsworthy in the Presidio

The stoneworker’s artist-of-choice, Andy Goldsworthy, has a new installation in the Presidio. It’s pretty cool, a one-hundred foot tall spire made out of forty lashed-together Monterey Cypress logs, culled from aging, declining trees that needed to be cut down. After cutting them down, they lashed them together into the spire and planted new trees around it in the spots where they had cut down the old ones. The spire will eventually rot and have to come down, but by then the new trees will have grown up around it. 

From now until May 3, there’s also a small exhibition with some of the drawings for the project, some photos of the installation process, and a few small art pieces including this junior spire inside a closet of the exhibition building. 

The NY Times has an article with a nice photo of the spire. This video has some footage of Goldsworthy’s first log spire, the no-longer-existing Grizedale spire.