OUTDOORS: Organic Chemistry ; for Andy Goldsworthy, Landscape Is the Raw Material of Art. the Critical Establishment May Look Down on His Outdoor Installations, but the General Public Loves Them. and His Latest Work, Reports Doris Lockhart Saatchi, Definitely Grows on You

By Saatchi, Doris Lockhart | The Independent (London, England), May 14, 2000 | Go to article overview
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OUTDOORS: Organic Chemistry ; for Andy Goldsworthy, Landscape Is the Raw Material of Art. the Critical Establishment May Look Down on His Outdoor Installations, but the General Public Loves Them. and His Latest Work, Reports Doris Lockhart Saatchi, Definitely Grows on You


Saatchi, Doris Lockhart, The Independent (London, England)


Few art world taste-makers in Britain take Andy Goldsworthy's work very seriously, dismissing it as transient, populist, New Age whimsy. He is not represented in the Tate Collection by a single piece. Yet this peripatetic, voluble, 43-year-old former farm labourer can fairly be said to be one of Britain's most successful living artists. He has been making large-scale, organic installations for 15 years now. Besides commissions for sheep enclosures and a stone wall in Cumbria and "holes" at London's Serpentine Gallery, he has had limited edition photographs of his installations exhibited throughout the world and published in books that are bought in numbers normally associated with fiction best- sellers. The influential magazine, Art in America, called him "one of the most engaging artists to emerge from Great Britain in the last decade". He is even on the National Curriculum.

And now, with the publication of an eighth book, Wall, together with a six-month show of new work just opening at upstate New York's Storm King Art Center - plus a ballet on which he has collaborated, also on the "wall" theme, due to open at London's Barbican Centre in September - Andy Goldsworthy may soon find himself basking in the glow of a wider critical approbation.

Wall is the result of a commission five years ago by Peter Stern, director of Storm King Art Center. Stern had seen another Goldsworthy wall - in the collection of one of his trustees - that incorporated the forked trunk of a fallen tree in such a skilful way that it seemed to be a natural phenomenon. His subsequent commission meant that Goldsworthy has joined other highly regarded artists such as Alexander Calder, Isamu Noguchi, Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore in Storm King's 500-acre outdoor gallery.

The result is a 2,220ft-long wall made of over 15,000 tonnes of local "field stones" - stones which were dumped on the land by a retreating glacier. Every stone has been lifted and fitted without mortar by one of the team of four British dry-stone wall builders with whom Goldsworthy has worked for many years. The wall rises from an ancient, ruined rock boundary that inspired it, winds its way through stands of maple and oak trees, appears to dive beneath the surface of a pond, reappears at an angle on the far bank then bends sharply away before marching straight up a hill to the edge of a highway. From east to west its pace seems to quicken, allowing an analogy of Old World to New and past to present.

Goldsworthy likes to think that he is "taking his walls for a walk". Each curve encloses a tree, or walls it off, depending on one's standpoint. The wall seems to flow, linking its components to their magmatic origins. It slides through boundaries in a way which is reminiscent of Christo's 1970s Running Wall installation in which a snaking, liquid line of billowing white curtain ran for 24 miles from a inland small town in California as far as the coast.

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OUTDOORS: Organic Chemistry ; for Andy Goldsworthy, Landscape Is the Raw Material of Art. the Critical Establishment May Look Down on His Outdoor Installations, but the General Public Loves Them. and His Latest Work, Reports Doris Lockhart Saatchi, Definitely Grows on You
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