Richard Long is one of the earliest and best known artists to engage in what has become known as ‘land art’. In an innovative way to engage with the land and the landscape, Long’s work is centred around lengthy walks in the countryside. His walks represent an exploration of the land and his relationship with it. His recorded work is a reflection of each walk rendered in various media.
“Each walk followed my own unique, formal route, for an original reason, which was different from other categories of walking, like travelling. Each walk, though not by definition conceptual, realised a particular idea. Thus walking – as art – provided a simple way for me to explore relationships between time, distance, geography and measurement. These walks are recorded in my work in the most appropriate way for each different idea: a photograph, a map, or a text work. All these forms feed the imagination.”
Long’s work has a strong evocative power. In particular, his ‘textworks’ are often short statements that capture a particular essence of a walk. In their short but powerful form their effect resembles that of haiku verses.
Long engages with the land in a highly personal way. His work is not the type of landscape or nature art that produces generic images that fetishize and romanticize nature while lacking any personal connection. Rather, in Long’s work one can feel the intimate connection that, through his long, solitary walks, the artist has achieved with the landscape. This sort of art creates a strong impact and is more likely to stimulate us to seek our own personal connections and meanings in nature and landscape than are simple, generic images that purport to show “the beauty of nature”.
Even when exhibited in the gallery, Long’s works contain a strong, organic feel that reflect the artist’s connection with the landscapes that provide the raw materials for his gallery works.