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Land Art and the Tradition of Romanticism

  • Journal of History of Modern Art
  • 1999, (9), pp.85-106
  • Publisher : 현대미술사학회
  • Research Area : Arts and Kinesiology > Art > Arts in general > Art History
  • Received : January 31, 1999
  • Accepted : February 28, 1999
  • Published : February 28, 1999

Ma SoonJa 1

1이화여자대학교

ABSTRACT

This study deals with the Land Art in it's relation to the tradition of Romanticism with regard to the nature. Land Art is one of the new art tendencies inspired by nature in the 1960's. Many of its features show the taste of the 'return to nature', the main characteristic of Romanticism. In the Land Art, including the Earth Work and the Natural Environment Art, nature is not only a part of the art work. It can also be seen as the essence of art Land artists prefer the land and nature more to the culture, i.e. city, museum or the human beings as it's matter and background. They choose the vast waste land as art site, such as deserts, mountains, forests, great plains and seasides. Earth, land, stones, landscape, natural elements and often the process of nature becomes the material and source of their work. The reason, why has the 'taste of nature' recurred at the end of the 1960's, in an advanced technological age, might be understood, if we look back on the history of Europe. It shows that the taste of nature comes into being when man's rlation to the nature experiences drastic change on account of the fast development of technology and the enlargement of cities. Romanticism of the 18th century, just after the industrial revolution, is the best example of such a case. It becomes afterwards the paradigm case of the nature-loving art tendencies. Land Art and Romanticism, both deviates from the rigid formal principles of the current art and culture, and the reverence of the reason. The artists sought the way to reconciliate the art and nature, the two principally confronting elements. We know that many artists of Land Art are from North America and the northern part of the Europe, where romantic landscapes were most flourishing. In spite of their similarities in the attitude of these artists to nature it is not the same in all cases. The way how they make use of the nature and what they want to do with it differs not insignificantly. And these make differences of their art. Two distinct attitudes could be discerned; 1) the attitude of absorbing into art and assimilating to it, 2) the attitude of actively altering nature into art. The first case is found in Richard Long, Hamish Hulton and Alan Sonfist, the second in Robert Smithson, Michael Heizer, Walter de Maria, Christo, and many other american artists. Long and Hulton's Art works consist mainly of walking through the nature. They left only their footsteps as the anmimals or winds do. Sometimes Long realignes a part of land by stones and sticks from the site, but Hulton takes only photographs of it. Their intention is to become a part of nature by contemplating nature. On the other hand Heizer or Smithson uses vast parts of nature for their immense artificial work by the help of technology. The main characteristics of Land Art, the vastness, immensity, power and divinity of nature, give one special aesthetic experience both emotionally and spiritually. Just it is the aesthetic quality of the subline that the philosophers of the Romanticism in the 18th century investigated into.

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