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UCLA

Land Art: Created from the Earth

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By Mary Daily

Published Apr 1, 2012 8:00 AM


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The exhibit includes Keith Arnatt's Liverpool Beach Burial, 1968. Photo courtesy of: Maureen Paley and the Estate of Keith Arnatt.

What do a giant trench carved out of the Nevada desert and a huge spiral jetty in the Great Salt Lake have in common? Both are "land art," created from natural materials in outdoor settings.

The trench (created by Michael Heizer) and the jetty (by Robert Smithson) are among more than 80 works on exhibit at the Geffen Contemporary at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Los Angeles. Ends of the Earth: Land Art to 1974 is the first large-scale historical-thematic exhibition to deal broadly with land art, and it's co-curated by UCLA Art History Professor Miwon Kwon.

With so much sophisticated media available to artists now, it can be easy to overlook the elements and objects that our natural world freely supplies. The land art movement, which began in the '60s, uses the earth as an artistic medium.

The Geffen exhibition links the complexity of the movement's social and political engagement with the historical conditions of its time. The works highlight the early years of experimentation in the genre created before land art became a fully institutionalized category.

MOCA invited Kwon to co-curate because of her background in landscape and architecture, as well as her book, One Place After Another: Site-Specific Art and Locational Identity, which examines art made for and inseparable from its location.

Ends of the Earth is accompanied by a comprehensive scholarly publication featuring essays by the curators and new perspectives from younger and established art historians, as well as some inserts by the most important protagonists.

Ends of the Earth: Land Art to 1974. The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA. May 27-August 20. $10 general admission; $5 students with I.D. and seniors (65+); free for cildren under 12. For more information, call (213) 626-6622 or visit www.moca.org.

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