British sculptor Richard Long studied at the West of England College of Art in Bristol (1962-65) followed by studies at St Martin’s School of Art, London (1966-68). He is based in Bristol, UK.
Long’s creative practice is based in usually long, usually solitary, walks in remote places. These walks form the basis of pieces he creates for gallery display, which cover a wide range of media – sculptures, photographs, text artworks (which he calls ‘textworks’), mud-paintings, cartography. The walking itself, however – and the sculptures he creates on location from local materials – is always at the root of his work.
His work is often based in geometric shapes – particularly straight lines and circles: ‘They do the job for me. I am not at all interested in “formalism”, I use lines and circles for their power.’
Often these lines and circles though, contradict their strict and tidy geometric forms by being composed of natural items that are neither strict nor tidy – sticks, rocks, muddy handprints – thereby combining chaos and control in the same work.
Richard Long’s first major work is often considered to be A Line Made By Walking (1967), a piece he made while still a student. Dieter Roelstraete, author of a book about this work, describes the piece and its importance:
‘[A Line Made By Walking] is essentially known as a straightforward black-and-white photograph of a line of flattened, trampled-upon grass made by repetitively walking up and down an unidentified field in the countryside just outside London, which we may presume regained its natural upright position soon after Long had left, with only a photograph as lasting evidence of his “action”. It is also a groundbreaking, early example of a critical movement in art towards the final dismantling of one of the last remaining myths of the post-Duchampian avant-garde: that the work should indeed be “made” or produced at all – that an object should emerge at the tail end of the (linear!) process of artistic production.’
Long’s description of his practice on his website is as follows:
In the nature of things:
Art about mobility, lightness and freedom.
Simple creative acts of walking and marking
about place, locality, time, distance and measurement.
Works using raw materials and my human scale
in the reality of landscapes.
The music of stones, paths of shared footmarks,
sleeping by the river’s roar.
Examples of Richard Long’s work are published on his website, http://richardlong.org.
© 2021 Caitlin Rowley