Sweeping Survey of Land Art Covers Iconic Works Across 5 Decades at Nevada Museum of Art

  • August 08, 2021 18:24

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Judy Chicago, Desert Atmosphere, Palm Desert, CA, 1969/2020, 30 x 40 inches, Collection of the Nevada Museum of Art, Center for Art + Environment Archive Collections

In one of the broadest surveys ever undertaken of contemporary Land Art, from the movement’s dramatic beginnings in the 1960s through the varied and critical initiatives artists are undertaking today, the Nevada Museum of Art now presents the exhibition Land Art: Expanding the Atlas, through January 2, 2022. More than 85 objects, the great majority of them from the Museum’s unparalleled holdings—including photographs, videos, drawings, prints, mixed media works, and sculptures—will be on view in the galleries, entrance lobby, and rooftop sculpture garden, along with extensive displays of archival materials from the Museum’s Center for Art + Environment.


While incorporating many of the predominantly male artists whose monumental interventions into the environment have tended to define Land Art—figures such as Michael Heizer, James Turrell, Dennis Oppenheim, and Christo and Jeanne-Claude—the exhibition presents a wealth of artworks and documentation showing the presence and engagement of women and artists of Indigenous, African American, and Latinx background.

Among the works included are Michelle Stuart’s 1968 Earth Diptych sculpture, photographs by Judy Chicago of a 1972 Atmospheres performance, images of Lita Albuquerque’s 1978 Moon Shadow and Malibu Line projects, a 1982 lithograph by Nancy Holt of a “dreamscape,” photographs by Agnes Denes of her 1982 Wheatfield project in lower Manhattan, and archival materials related to Beverly Buchanan’s 1981 Marsh Ruins and 1986 Blue Station Stones. More recent works that expand the critical perspective include Cauleen Smith’s 2008 films Remote Viewing and Other Ways of Seeing, Ana Teresa Fernandez’s 2013 video Borrando la Frontera (Erasing the Border), Maya Lin’s 2014 sculpture Cloudline: Mt. Rose at 8,500 ft, Edgar Arceneaux’s Yellow Blind Pig, 2011-12, and Cannupa Hanska Luger’s high-definition digital work and archival materials related to River (The Water Serpent), 2016.

Justin Favela, Family Fiesta: Double Negative, 2015, Documentation of performance inside of Michael Heizer’s Double Negative. Courtesy of the artist ©Justin Favela.Photo credit: Mikayla Whitmore

Projects specially undertaken for the exhibition are a re-creation by Mary Miss of her 2007 work Connect the Dots installed throughout the Museum’s ground floor and Justin Favela’s installation on the sky plaza of his sculpture Seven Magic Tires (2019), a wry response to Ugo Rondinone’s 2016 Seven Magic Mountains, which was co-produced by the Museum and the Art Production Fund, New York.

David B. Walker, CEO of the Nevada Museum of Art, said, “Our institution has a long-standing commitment to documenting, studying, collecting, and exhibiting Land Art, a movement that is almost synonymous with the dramatic terrain of Nevada. It’s fair to say that our Museum, with the depth and breadth of its collections, is uniquely situated to present such a far-reaching exhibition, showing the many contemporary manifestations of Land Art and exploring the multilayered relationships and histories between people and the environment.”

Cauleen Smith, Remote Viewing, 2009 (detail), Digital video, Collection of the Nevada Museum of Art, purchased with funds from deaccessioning

Ann M. Wolfe, the Andrea and John C. Deane Family Senior Curator and Deputy Director of the Museum, and curator of the exhibition Expanding the Atlas, said, “While much of the world remains enchanted by the land-based desert works that emerged in the American West in the late 1960s and 70s, there is equal interest among practitioners in seeking to create, critique, contextualize, perform, and engage in environmental and social dialogue about art of the land. We’re proud that the Nevada Museum of Art has both the collections and the relationships with artists to enable us to present this sweeping reconsideration of Land Art across five decades.”

Postcommodity, Repellent Fence Valla Repelente, US/Mexico border, Douglas, Arizona—Agua Prieta, Sonora, Mexico. Installation view, 2015, Archival digital ink jet print, 32 x 48 inches. Collection of the Nevada Museum of Art, The Altered Landscape, Carol Franc Buck Collection ©Postcommodity, Photo credit: Michael Lundgren, courtesy of Postcommodity and Bockley Gallery

William L. Fox, the Peter E. Pool Director of the Center for Art + Environment, said, “Part of the excitement of this exhibition is to see major archives in the Center unlocked to the public for the first time. Our audiences will now get their first comprehensive view of the founding collection of the Center, the G. Robert Deiro Land Art Archive Collection, along with our recently acquired materials from the Judy Chicago Atmospheres archive, the High Desert Test Sites archive, and the Great Basin Native Artists Archive and Directory.” 

Land Art: Expanding the Atlas is one of five exhibitions the Museum is presenting in its 2021 Art + Environment Season, Land Art: Past, Present, Futures. The season also encompasses 12 virtual discussions and talks by 23 distinguished speakers (September 23 through November 19), a live outdoor “transformance” in Las Vegas by Rose B. Simpson, and a publication by the Museum and Monacelli of a 256-page, lavishly illustrated book, Gianfranco Gorgoni: Land Art Photographs, featuring an essay by the late Germano Celant.

Organized under the auspices of the Nevada Museum of Art’s Center for Art + Environment, Land Art: Past, Present, Futures will be presented from September 23 through November 19, 2021, offering multiple new opportunities for a global community of artists, scholars, writers, designers, and art enthusiasts to look at, talk about, and reflect upon our interaction with the natural world and the built environment. In the years since its first presentation in 2008, the A + E Conference has won international recognition as the premier event in its field, held in the state whose terrain has inspired historic and contemporary Land Art interventions from the early monumental works of Michael Heizer and Walter De Maria to the recent sculptures of Ugo Rondinone. The Conference has consistently sparked new scholarship, provoked fresh thinking, and helped forge productive partnerships. For more on the season and to subscribe, visit: nevadaart.org/conference2021.

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