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Richard Long

Born:June 2, 1945 (age 70),Bristol.

Artwork:White Water Line,Small White
PebbleCircles,Daystones,Kilkenny Circle,Chalk Circle,Red
Walk,Chalk Line

In his exhibition guide, Richard Long writes the following introduction:
'I am interested in universals: stones, water, mud, hands, days, circles,
symmetry, gravity, footpaths and roads. Walking is universal; we walked
out of Africa for the first time as humans on foot. Journeys are common
to all people and cultures and yet it interests me to make walks that
follow or realise marginal ideas, which are different from migrations or
making journeys, or exploring, or being a nomad, or a pilgrim. Walking
as art, in fact.'
These works are described as mostly about the acts of measurement
related to the natural world. Walking is the method he has chosen to
demonstrate this, creating works of art along his paths. These works are
not intended to be permanent and he envisages that many of the rocks in a
Scottish work will ends up in peoples rockeries, a situation he is more
than happy with. Working mostly alone, he sets parameters and time
limits for some of the works, drawing a line on a map or following a
watercourse or a well trodden pathway, he walks and notes his response
to the surroundings he finds himself in. Most of the works are left in situ,
but some are removed and taken back to the studio for reconstruction,
accompanied by photographs of them. A part of his responses is
documented in text using words evoked by his experiences.
I found myself comparing Richard Long with
other landscape artists such as Andy
Goldsworthy and Hamish Fulton, both using
Nature as the material for their art works,
though looking back to Paul Klee, all of
these could be said to have been
with taking
a line for a walk.
The comparison
with Hamish Fulton
is all the more
interesting as he and
Long shared two years

Paul Klee


together at Central St. Martins, are the same age and knew each other
well. Their work shares many similarities. The major differences between
them is that Long will use elements of the natural world with which to
form his responses, building stone circles or pathways and using mud
from the river to leave his mark on driftwood or bark and walls,
photographing the work and bringing it into the studio. Fulton will not
move anything in nature on his long, measured walks but returns to the
studio to document his emotional responses. He describes photographs as
a testament to a passing moment or a brief pause on the whole long
journey. There is a gap between his walking and what he can say about it
and his work concentrates on this gap. Though also using Nature,
Goldsworthy is different from both as he uses the natural elements to
form pictures and patterns that do not necessarily relate to a walk, rather
making picturesque arrangements.
Richard Longs work contains elements of both other artists but is also
different. The walk as an art form has gained in popularity. There are
other artists using the theme of a walk with varying aims. There is, for
example a video of the black artist, William Pope L crawling the whole
length of New Yorks Broadway wearing a Superman outfit in order to
poke fun at the name of the district: The Great White Way, and thus
using this walk politically. Other groups in America describe walking as
a powerful way of moving through the universe1For some of the artists,
it is a very powerful form of moving through the universe either
socially or politically but also walking is a gift we give ourselves.
So we are left with the central question surrounding the walk. The
group discussion talked around the issue of whether or not a walk could
be considered as art, since the walk appeared to constitute the focus of the
work. One definition of art says that it means beautiful or thoughtprovoking works produced through creative activity, while another
describes it as the skill and technique involved in producing visual
What Richard Long has presented would be then by definition, called art.
The more difficult issue is whether the walk itself is art, or whether it is
his emotional response that is the art. Personally, I felt a strong

Fromexhibition at the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum

titled,Walking Sculpture: 1967-2015.

sense of transience in the work. Nothing lasts and everything is fleeting.

Though true, there is a certain negativity in this approach as a philosophy
for life that I found somewhat sad and unbalanced.
Long himself likes to keep things simple, and to allow his work to speak
for itself. I like very plain sculptures, he said in 1971, and usually
people look for far too much in them.2 With this in mind, and sitting
firmly on the fence, I would respect Longs advice and just enjoy the
celebration of his walking experiences.
Richard Long