All images Ugo Rondinone: Seven Magic Mountains, Las Vegas, Nevada, 2016. Photos by Gianfranco Gorgoni. Courtesy of Art Production Fund and Nevada Museum of Art.
Situated just south of Las Vegas in the middle of the desert stands seven stacks of brightly colored boulders— forms which appear to be in a line or cluster depending on how you view their arrangement. From one side the structures line up neatly in a row, while from the other they seem to be positioned in one giant mass. The cairn-like towers are Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone‘s “Seven Magic Mountains” and stand between 30 and 35 feet tall. Each contains between three and six human-sized masses which are all locally-sourced limestone painted an assortment of dayglow hues.
The stacked forms are intended to appear both stable and on the edge of collapse, similar to their duality of being both nature made and artificial. “Seven Magic Mountains is an artwork of thresholds and crossings, of seclusion and gathering, of balanced marvels and excessive colors, and the contrary air between the desert and the city lights,” states Rondinone. “Seven Magic Mountains elicits continuities and solidarities between the artificial and the natural, between human and nature.”
In 1977, sculptor David Nash cleared an area of land near his home in Wales where he trained a circle of 22 ash trees to grow in a vortex-like shape for an artwork titled Ash Dome. Almost 40 years later, the trees still grow today. The artist has long worked with wood and natural elements in his art practice, often incorporating live trees or even animals into pieces. The exact site of Ash Dome in the Snowdonia region of northwest Wales is a closely guarded secret, and film crews or photographers who are permitted to see it are reportedly taken on a circuitous route to guard its location. Nash shares in an interview with the International Sculpture Center:
When I first planted the ring of trees for Ash Dome, the Cold War was still a threat. There was serious economic gloom, very high unemployment in our country, and nuclear war was a real possibility. We were killing the planet, which we still are because of greed. In Britain, our governments were changing quickly, so we had very short-term political and economic policies. To make a gesture by planting something for the 21st century, which was what Ash Dome was about, was a long-term commitment, an act of faith. I did not know what I was letting myself in for.
Dr. James Fox recently visited the artwork for the BBC’s Forest, Field & Sky: Art out of Nature (YouTube) featuring six different land artists in Britain. You can see an excerpt regarding Ash Dome below, as well as footage of Nash working on the piece further down. (thnx, Elsie!)
Minnesota-based graphic designer Paul Johnson has long been fascinated with creating art in the dirt, so to speak, every since drawing in sand with a stick at the beach for hours on end as a child. In college he soon learned of several modern artists working at the intersection of land science and art such as Robert Smithson, Andy Goldsworthy and Jim Denevan. In his Earthworks in Motion series Johnson utilizes some of the same patterns and general ideas from these artists but sets them in motion using meticulous stop motion animation techniques.
Filmed in various nature preserves, parks, and wildlife refuges around the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area, each animation involves the careful placement of sticks, snow, ice, light, and rocks to create moving geometric formations. We’ve seen a number of animated land art pieces here on Colossal, but Johnson’s precision and ingenuity really set these apart. Watch the video above or see new clips as he creates them on Instagram. (via Colossal Submissions)
We just featured new snow drawings by artist Simon Beckearlier this month, but this new short film by Great Big Story takes us behind the scenes as he tramples a number of new pieces at Powder Mountain Resort in Utah. Beck mentions that he often walks an estimated 5,000 steps an hour for up to 10 hours at a time to complete an average piece, but some works can span several days of labor. See photos of his latest pieces here. (via Colossal Submissions)
Driven by super-human forces and undaunted by the powers of nature, artist Simon Beck (previously) trudges across sand or through knee-high snow to create massive geometric drawings left behind in his footprints. From sandy expanses on the shore of New Zealand to frigid outlooks in the Swiss Alps, any pristine surface that stretches for hundreds of meters can work as a suitable canvas for Beck’s designs.
Each site-specific piece is planned well in advance on a computer and carefully mapped out on-site before the artist begins his grueling expedition. After walking for entire days, the painstaking details of enormous fractals, snowflakes, dragons, and undulating geometric forms are left in his wake—often with barely enough sunlight to snap a few quick photos.
Seen here are a number of pieces by Beck from the last year or so. You can learn about the fine details of his process in this FAQ and see additional photos over on Facebook. He also published a book of his work titled Simon Beck: Snow Art.
We’ve seen a number of interesting projects lately that attempt to bring art from inside museums into the outdoors. Artist Stan Herd has been doing just that for years by using fields as his canvas for both original compositions and interpretations of historical art. His latest work is a monumental 1.2-acre interpretation of Van Gogh’s 1889 Painting “Olive Trees” planted in Minneapolis. The piece was commissioned by the Minneapolis Institute of Art and involved weeks of mowing, digging, planting, and earthscaping to create the piece viewable from the air near the Minneapolis airport. If you happen to see the piece when flying into the city, you can head to the museum to see the real thing.
Herd’s first outdoor land art piece (he refers to them as “earthworks”) was an ambitions 160-acre portrait of Kiowa Indian chief Satanta, that he physically carved into a Kansas prairie in 1981. He’s since created dozens of works around the world, and notably inspired Japanese artists in Inakadate province north of Tokyo to plant a series of incredible rice paddy artworks.
The Van Gogh field will be on view through the fall in Minneapolis, after which Herd plans to mow it down in concentric circles similar to the Dutch artists’s iconic painting style. You can read more about the piece in the StarTribune. (thnx, Randy!)