Friday, November 25, 2011

Deisgner of the Month: Andy Goldsworthy

Week 4

The majority of the work by Andy Goldsworthy that I've focused on over these past few weeks has been of the ephemeral variety, but today, I'd like to focus on Goldsworthy's more permanent, large-scale sculptures, both in the naturalistic and built environment.

Seven Spires, 1984. Grizedale Forest, Cumbria, UK. Courtesy of the Haines Gallery, San Francisco.

Although it was decommissioned in 1998, Seven Spires (1984) - seven sets of pine trunks pinned together to form tall, slender spires - was the first of many large-scale works by Goldsworthy.[1] While these works clearly retain Goldsworthy's aesthetic, they're vastly different than his more ephemeral works not only in their size and longer lifespans, but also in the amount of planning and help needed to complete them. Wood, stone or clay - regardless of the material used to create them, they're similar in that they must be resilient enough to last for long a period of time, yet as part of the landscape, they're meant to change with it.

River of Earth (Riviére de Terre), 1999. Collection Musée Gassendi, Digne-les-Bains, France. Courtesy of the Haines Gallery, San Francisco.

One of the most striking examples of the ways in which Goldsworthy's large-scale sculptures are meant to change over time is his River of Earth (1999) project, for which Goldsworthy created wall from 7,700 pounds of red Dumfriesshire clay. While this was a type of sculpture that Goldsworthy had created before, this time, he decided to film the 10-day process of the wall drying and cracking. By taking his normal photographic habits to the extreme, Goldsworthy was able to capture the variety of colors revealed within the clay - taken from different depths of the same lake - in stages, as the sculpture dried, creating this river-like form.[2]

Roof, 2005. Permanent installation, National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. Courtesy of the Haines Gallery, San Francisco.

It may seems strange, given Goldsworthy's love of working outdoors, to consider his work that makes use of a built space, but to Goldsworthy, even these sculptures have the sense of naturalism to them. He explains that:
My work with buildings is an attempt to understand and draw out their nature. Installations that engage with the building architecturally have been the most successful in trying to achieve this intention. There is a difference between a work that hangs as a rectangle on a wall and one that covers the wall completely - one is a picture, the other is the wall. At best, these works should feel as if they have risen to a building's surface as a memory of its origin, a connection between the building and its materials source.[3]
Work such as Roof, at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., while created within a built environment, is simply a more permanent iteration of forms (both the dome shape and creation of holes) that Goldsworthy has explored through less durable materials throughout his career. These large-scale sculptures may be more permanent than other examples of Goldsworthy's work, but they are no less a part of his ongoing dialogue with nature.

[1] Andrew Causey, "Environmental Sculptures," Hand To Earth: Andy Goldsworthy Sculpture, 1976-1990 (New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., Publishers, 1990), 125.

[2] Andy Goldsworthy, "Diaries: Digne," Time (New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc. Publishers, 2000), 82.

[3] Andy Goldsworthy, "Time, Change, Place," Time (New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc. Publishers, 2000), 8.

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