Troublemakers: The story of LAND ART





A New Documentary Sheds Light on the ‘Troublemakers’ of Land Art 

"Isolation may be the essence of land art, as the director and art historian James Crump says, but if the soaring views of earthworks — straddling canyons; riddled with lightning — in his new documentary are any indication, the genre’s second nature is wonder. Premiering exclusively on T, the trailer for the film “Troublemakers” reveals an intersecting group of artists in the late ’60s and early ’70s, united equally by their communion with the elements and their anti-authoritarian attitudes. Often shirtless and shot in grainy black-and-white footage, some of which has never before been shown, the literal groundbreakers profiled — such as Michael Heizer, Walter de Maria and Robert Smithson — do little to undercut their mythologies as “difficult or headstrong or rebellious,” Crump says. But “troublemaking can also mean instigation or stirring up the waters, and it implies critique,” he adds, noting that land art emerged at the same time Americans were confronting images of bombed-out landscapes from the Vietnam War and of the cratered surface of the moon. “There was an urgency to make the work,” Crump says — even if the artworks, like the open vistas that animated them, defied collecting as “an investable asset class.”

Instead, the documentary shows how the land artists relied on free drinks at Max’s Kansas City and on the prescience of the gallerist Virginia Dwan, whose support (and predilection for wearing Yves Saint Laurent) grounds the more metaphysical ambitions of trying to move heaven and earth. Traveling from Soho to the Southwest on quintessentially American road trips, the “Troublemakers” found larger canvases on which to create landmarks, including Nancy Holt’s “Sun Tunnels” and her husband Smithson’s “Spiral Jetty,” 1,500 feet of basalt and mud unfurling into the krill-red northern waters of the Great Salt Lake. Other pieces are still incomplete, more than 40 years after inception, their precise locations guarded by the artists. For many of the earthworks, the difficulty of getting there is part of the intention, Crump says. “The element of not knowing where you’re going, the possibility of getting lost or of not even finding the place.”"

This exceprt taken from the article by Su Wu via  The New York Times Style Magazine

To read the full articles go to http://tmagazine.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/05/04/land-art-smithson-holt-heizer-troublemakers-movie/?ref=t-magazine&_r=0

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