A New Book Celebrates the Groundbreaking Women Who Changed Land Art — Colossal

October 21, 2023 - Art


#art history
#land art

October 20, 2023

Grace Ebert

red concentric circles on desert

Lita Albuquerque, “Spine of the Earth” (1980), pigment, rock, and wood sundial, El Mirage Lake, Mojave Desert, California. Image © Lita Albuquerque, courtesy of the artist and Kohn Gallery, Los Angeles. All images courtesy of Artbook D.A.P., shared with permission

As conceptual art emerged in the 1960s as a dominant movement, more artists turned their attentions toward atypical materials and spaces. Using wood, steel, plants, peat moss, and other organic matter became commonplace in the genre known as land art, which included works made directly on the earth or with natural materials brought into the gallery.

As with most of art history, land art has generally been dominated by men, although a new book published by DelMonico offers a corresponding, if not corrective, narrative. Groundswell: The Women of Land Art is a 256-page volume that encompasses a range of works by renowned artists like Ana Mendieta, Nancy Holt, and Agnes Dean, to name a few.

On the cover is Lita Albuquerque’s “Spine of the Earth,” an ephemeral creation of concentric circles laid in the Mojave Desert in 1980, with projects like Meg Webster’s verdant “Moss Bed, Queen” and Patricia Johanson’s winding “Fair Park Lagoon” inside its pages. Given the fleeting nature and live components of many land-art pieces, the book is both a celebration of the women artists working in the genre and a necessary resource for documenting such groundbreaking and transient additions to the canon.

Groundswell is available on Bookshop.


brown pathways wind through a swampy area with grass

Patricia Johanson, “Fair Park Lagoon” (1981–86), gunite, native plants, and animal species, For the People, the Meadows Foundation, Communities Foundation of Texas, Texas Commission on the Arts and their private and corporate donations, permanently sited in Fair Park, Dallas. Image by Michael Barera, © Patricia Johanson, courtesy of the artist

a black and white image of a maze on land

Alice Aycock, “Maze” (1972), 12-sided wooden structure of 5 concentric dodecagonal rings, broken by 19 points of entry and 17 barriers 6 x 32 feet diameter, originally sited at Gibney Farm near New Kingston, Pennsylvania, now destroyed. Image by Silver Spring Township Police Department, Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, © Alice Aycock, courtesy of the artist

three concrete cylinders rest in the desert while the sun illuminates them

Nancy Holt, “Sun Tunnels” (1973-76), Great Basin Desert, Utah, concrete, steel, earth, 9 1/6 x 86 x 53 x 86 feet, collection of Dia Art Foundation with support from Holt/Smithson Foundation. Image © 2023 Holt/Smithson Foundation and Dia Art Foundation, licensed by Artists Rights Society, New York

a rectangle of moss in a gallery

Meg Webster, “Moss Bed, Queen” (1986/2005), peat moss, earth, and plastic tarp, 10 x 60 x 80 inches, Walker Art Center, T. B. Walker Acquisition Fund, 2006. Image © Meg Webster, courtesy of the artist and the Paula Cooper Gallery  Photo: Courtesy Walker Art Center

a row of metal trees in a landscape

Maren Hassinger, “Twelve Trees” (1979)

a square wooden structure with three levels on stilts

Mary Miss, “Perimeters/Pavilions/Decoys” (1977–78 ), earth, wood, and steel, temporary installation at the Nassau County Museum, Long Island, New York. Image © Mary Miss, courtesy of the artist

#art history
#land art


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