Regular readers will know that I’m a big fan of Richard Long - walker, artist, sometime walking artists, sometime land artist, sometime sculptor.
Some of his best work – and his best walks - involve “interventions” in the landscapes. Sometimes these might involve stamping out an “intaglio” on the ground, or he might move rocks into patterns.
Very early in his career he went up Kilimanjaro, and made a kind of sculpture there. “I was very proud of the fact I had probably made the highest sculpture in the world, ” he said in a recent interview with the Guardian.
If I’m walking in the desert or some isolated place I often see that somebody has rearranged rocks, and I always say to myself “Maybe Richard Long was here,” but I never really think he was. And occasionally I myself have been known to rearrange rocks – in which case it’s definitely not a Richard Long, but I suppose it might be “School of Long.”
Long’s work also sometimes involves transporting pieces of rock or slate from natural settings or quarries, and then arranging them in art galleries or in outdoor sculpture parks. An exhibition of these kind of sculptures titled Land and Sky: Richard Long at Houghton just opened at Houghton Hall, near Fakenham, in Norfolk, England.
Part of the coverage included that article in the Guardian which quotes Long as saying that he’s walked every piece of Dartmoor, but avoids pilgrim routes and old ways. “I made a conscious decision that there’s so many ways to walk in new ways or original ways. I was quite proud of the fact that no one has walked across Dartmoor in a straight line before.” He’s referring to works like these:
I have definitely walked on Dartmoor – a long time ago, not sure I’d even heard of Richard Long at the time. I definitely didn’t walk in a straight line and if I walked on pilgrim routes I certainly didn’t know about it.
Long says, “Ideas can last forever … I’m one of the artists who realized a journey – from a straight path in the grass to a 1,000-mile walk – could be a work of art.”
Of course It’s in the nature of art that it changes the way you see the world, so when you’ve got Richard Long in your head and you find yourself, as I did the other day, walking in Los Angeles along Wilshire Boulevard, past a building that houses a Wells Fargo Bank and a slightly distant outpost of Cedars Sinai hospital, I was amazed to find this sea of rough but carefully arranged slabs of red rock.
I’m as sure as I can be that these are not “real” Richard Longs, but who’s to say that the landscape architect wasn’t familiar with his works? Maybe he or she too belonged to the School of Long.