Almost 50 years ago, Robert Smithson, along with his fellow artists Michael Heizer, Walter De Maria and other adventurous colleagues, pioneered earthworks, an audacious — and short-lived — movement of the 20th century. Named for a sci-fi novel that Smithson read in 1967, earthworks represented a new genre of landscape art. Instead of painting a view of nature, sculptors created their own massive works outdoors on mesas, moraines and even the floor of the Mojave Desert. In 1971, Mr. Heizer told me: “You can’t really find a harsher climate than where a majority of my work exists right now. It’s in semiarid, flat, windy, heavy rainy season areas.”
Rather than using chisels, mallets or welding torches, sculptors rented bulldozers, front-end loaders, backhoes and other heavy-duty vehicles to excavate and construct these behemoths. And they found patrons to subsidize them. Read More via NYTimes.