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Mirroring ourselves in the landscape around us is not only a romantic pursuit but an unconscious projection of our existence onto a habitiat in an attempt to define it. If we follow this point of view, the relationship that an artwork has with a space is no longer just assertive. At the beginning of the 21st Century, the relationship between art and the landscape, which in previous decades had appeared in various guisies, has changed radically.

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A strong tension between Landscape and Art that had been expressed since the 1960s is finally disappearing. Previously, through minimalist language the possibility of exercising the transformative power of art had been corrupted into an expression of subordination over the power of mother nature. Today we see the opposite, where a growing environmental awareness means that the destructive nature of Landscape Art is cancelled out. Land art began as a movement marking the liberation of artists to work free from the constraints of museum walls to articulate without protective filters a radically experimental thrust of artistic possibility. The movement of art from an internal to an external environment has been a growing trend for years, with Urban Art and Street Art taking art from a gallery's inner walls to the walls of the building itself. But artists like Christo (Christo Vladimirov Javacheff, n.1935) and Jeanne-Claude (Jeanne-Claude Denat de Guillebon, 1935-2009) working against this trend and have shifted the attention away from the city entirely, and into a natural environment. However, their works have come under fire from environmental campaigners, especially their "Surrounded Islands" series, which many people claimed was damaging local ecosystems and aquatic life. If you are a fan of landscape art, take a glance at our selection of Ruben BrulatAnna CapolupoEnrico MinguzziUgo RicciardiJamie KirklandCourtney J Garrett.

Don't miss our article "Next From Stefano Ogliari Badessi: When Art Changes Landscapes". 




An author of non-invasive environmental practice, but who explores it through the collection of materials with which to then build installations elsewhere, is the English artist Richard Long (Bristol. 1945), who for years continues his personal investigation of nature through large scale works, photos and videos. In this way, art in landscape has moved away from the impressive examples of Christo, Jeanne-Claude and even James Turrell, where the experience of nature dominated by wonder is interpretable as a legacy of Immanuel Kant's theory of the aesthetic sublime, and has turned to more circumscribed and less imaginative modules, renouncing an innovative artistic language, as had happened until the nineties.


View of the installation, Château de Versailles, Versailles, 2015 © ADAGP Anish Kapoor Photo.


In the face of works that maintain a decidedly plastic character - such as the installations by Antony Gormley, a British artist of impressive humanoid sculptures, and his recent experience at the Pollino Natural Park, Basilicata, which since 2009 began to accommodate significant artistic presences through the installations of Anish Kapoor, Carsten Höller and Giuseppe Penone - many of the most recent works of art show a less enunciative and more transversal attitude towards the landscape concept art, seeking dialogue through media that go beyond the landscape art definition and by virtue of practices that do not end with their realization. On the one hand, there is the entrance of the immaterial in the artistic sign and, on the other, the fact that the work does not end in its presence, but is expressed starting from the processes that preceded it and from those that are produced as a result of its existence.

Recently Giuseppe Penone had a huge exhibition in the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, discover more about the artist: "Summer ArtGuide #3 UK: the living trees by Giuseppe Penone in the Yorkshire Sculpture Park". 

Much of contemporary artistic production acting in the digital art landscape seems to rest on a paradox, since in its nature two antithetical elements converge: immateriality and presence, denying the completed character of the work in favour of a procedural dimension. The 2002-03 edition of Tuscia Electa was attended by Cesare Pietroiusti (born 1955), a highly original conceptual artist. Among the other artists, it is worth noting the presence of Green who re-proposed his work already exhibited at Kassel. For the first time, the Tuscan landscape, where Tuscia Electa takes place, hosted a work that was neither an installation (as was frequently the case in previous editions), nor a video (like the one presented by Tony Oursler in the same edition), nor a sculpture nor a painting (as had happened in 1998 with the exhibition by Mimmo Paladino set up in the Poggibonsi fortress for the third edition of Art to art).


Giuseppe Penone. Photo Credit Jim Varney. 


There is nothing left in the landscape, therefore, because everything has been played out in the instant of that collective performance that the artist has achieved through the most immaterial of media: the voice. The installation of the couple of artists Vedovamazzei (Stella Scala, No. 1964, and Simeone Crispino, No. 1962) was presented in 2001 together with Mario Airò in "La Marrana": a significant collection of environmental art created by Grazia and Gianni Bolongaro in their Montemarcello Villa close to La Spezia. 

This is not dissimilar to what Land Art had tried to do, had it not given up on marking its own territory. It is difficult to answer the question of whether actions such as these modify the landscape, or at least reveal a designed intent of this kind, as the environmental installations made in previous years intended to do. Yet it is also here, in the procedural character of the work, which claims a difference from the circumscribed artistic gesture in a mere accomplishment, that a significant part of the transformation of the relationship between art and landscape is played out. 


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