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Artists Richard Long
Richard Long Photo

Richard Long

British Sculptor and Land Artist

Movements and Styles: Land Art, Conceptual Art, Post-Minimalism

Born: June 2, 1945 - Bristol, England

Richard Long Timeline

Quotes

"I guess I'm an opportunist, really. I go out into the world with an open mind, and I rely to a degree on intuition and chance. The idea of making art out of nothing, I've got a lot of time for that."
Richard Long
"My art is the essence of my experience, not a representation of it."
Richard Long
"You could say that my work is...a balance between the patterns of nature and the formalism of human, abstract ideas like lines and circles. It is where my human characteristics meet the natural forces and patterns of the world, and that is really the kind of subject of my work."
Richard Long
"The speed of the hand gestures is important because that's what makes the splashes, which shows the wateriness of the mud, and water is the main subject and content of these works, they show its nature."
Richard Long
"You have this wash sweeping up the mud ... muddy creeks ... I guess it's right to say that I have used that experience in my art: like water, the tides, the mud. All that cosmic energy is there in my work."
Richard Long
"One thing I like about my work is all the different ways it can be in the world. A local could walk by and not notice it, or notice it and not know anything about me. Or someone could come upon a circle and know it was a circle of mine. I really like the notion of the visibility or invisibility of the work as well as the permanence and transience."
Richard Long
"My photographs are facts which bring the right accessibility to remote, lonely or otherwise unrecognizable works. Some sculptures are seen by few people, but can be known about many."
Richard Long

"My work has become a simple metaphor of life. A figure walking down his road, making his mark. It is an affirmation of my human scale and senses."

Richard Long Signature

Synopsis

Using his walks as art, Richard Long's excursions into nature and his minimally invasive marks on the landscape have broadened the definitions of sculpture to include performance and conceptual art. While the work is often theoretical and hermetic, he contextualizes his actions in more universal and historical terms, however explaining, "if you undertake a walk, you are echoing the whole history of mankind." This primal quality runs throughout his art, even pieces designed for a gallery or museum setting are crafted from elemental materials of stone, sticks, muds, or else are simply photographic or textual records of his experiences. Yet through these unassuming gestures, Long's art has influenced generations of Land artists and has shifted the notion of art away from the object and the idea of permanence.

Key Ideas

Working with natural materials in their original setting and leaving his creations to be reclaimed by nature, Long has refused the notion of art as a permanent object. By refusing to create lasting or monumental structures, he has expanded the acceptable materials and techniques for sculpture and undermined the traditional ideals of that medium. Furthermore, in rejecting artistic media and techniques in favor of minimalist rearrangements of natural materials, he harnesses unassuming materials to create meaningful statements.
With his simple forms of circles and lines, Long connects the viewer with lyrical and timeless elements of nature. His truthfulness to the natural state of his materials and his respect for the landscape results in works that emphasize the beauty of nature. He makes small gestures that carry deep meanings, suggesting the long history of man's relationship to the environment. Whether in the minimal footprint of his walks and interventions in the landscape, or his reverence for the unadorned beauty of elemental materials like mud, sticks, and stones, he encourages the viewer to appreciate the straightforward, primal beauty of nature.
Moving stones between remote locations or treading a path through grass, Long's most iconic works leave minimal impact on their natural environment and are often erased by the progression of time. In repeating these understated gestures, Long legitimizes these quiet interventions as art. He understands that, because his works are often undetectable, viewers might not even know they are looking at work of art, but that his experience itself and his intentionality qualifies even the simplest actions as artistic expression. Long believes that it is not necessary for the artwork to be understood as art by the viewer, but that his presence and actions are sufficiently artistic without this external acknowledgment.
In expanding the definitions of sculpture, Long has incorporated interdisciplinary elements from Performance art, Conceptual art, and photography. Where photography began as a way of documenting his performative actions or temporary interventions in remote locations, it has evolved to be a carefully considered component of his work. Long insists that "even though a lot of my work takes place in the landscape, the gallery is the conduit for bringing my work into the public domain" and therefore it is necessary to create artifacts or records of his experiences that can be shared with a viewer.

Biography

Richard Long Photo

Childhood and Education

Born in Clifton, a suburb of Bristol, England, as a young boy Richard Long played alone in the surrounding hillsides and lush nature of the Avon Gorge. He often returned home after miles-long walks, during which he immersed himself in the natural landscape. His liberal-minded mother and educator father fully supported Richard's desire to explore the outdoors and practice art.

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Richard Long Biography Continues

Influences and Connections

Influences on Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Influenced by Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Richard Long
Interactive chart with Richard Long's main influences, and the people and ideas that the artist influenced in turn.
View Influences Chart

Artists

Vincent van GoghVincent van Gogh
Paul GauguinPaul Gauguin
Carl AndreCarl Andre
Joseph BeuysJoseph Beuys

Personal Contacts

John HilliardJohn Hilliard

Movements

Arte PoveraArte Povera
Conceptual ArtConceptual Art
Performance ArtPerformance Art

Influences on Artist
Richard Long
Richard Long
Years Worked: 1967 - Current
Influenced by Artist

Artists

Tony CraggTony Cragg
Andy GoldsworthyAndy Goldsworthy

Personal Contacts

Hamish FultonHamish Fulton

Movements

Conceptual ArtConceptual Art
MinimalismMinimalism
Land ArtLand Art
Performance ArtPerformance Art
Environmental ArtEnvironmental Art

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Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors

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Content compiled and written by The Art Story Contributors
Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors
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