Revolutionising the art of ‘natural’ sculptures: Sir Richard Long

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Small White Pebble Circles, Tate Modern, London (1987)

June 2, On This Day 

Richard Long in 2012

One of the best-known British land artists of our time, English sculptor Sir Richard Julian Long happens to be the only artist to have been short-listed four times for the Turner Prize (1984, 1987, 1988 and winner in 1989). 

Long was born on June 2, 1945, in Bristol, south-west England. As an artist, he creates work using various media — sculpture, photography and text. 

White Water Falls, Garvan Institute, Sydney (2012)
South Bank Circle by Richard Long, Tate Liverpool, England. (1991)

His revolutionary work has broadened the idea of sculpture to be a part of performance art and conceptual art, and it is typically made of earth, rock, mud, stone and other natural materials. In exhibitions, he usually displays it either as documentary photographs of performances and experiences or in the form of the materials used. His work is on permanent display in Britain at the Tate and Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery as well as galleries in America, Switzerland and Australia. 

Wikipedia explains: “In his work, often cited as a response to the environments he walked in, the landscape would be deliberately changed in some way, and sometimes sculptures were made in the landscape from rocks or similar found materials and then photographed. Other pieces consist of photographs or maps of unaltered landscapes accompanied by texts detailing the location and time of the walk it indicates… Some are circles or organic paths. Some exist in snow, dust, and even charred grass.” 

A Walking and Running Circle | Courtesy: richardlong.org
Mahalakshmi Hill Line | Courtesy: richardlong.org

Interestingly, he has also created pieces on Warli tribal land in Maharashtra, titled ‘Mahalakshmi Hill Line’ and ‘A Walking and Running Circle’.  

Honours presented to Long include the Turner Prize, Tate Gallery, London, UK (1989), the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, French Ministry of Culture, Paris, France (1990), Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2013 New Year Honours. and a Knight Bachelor in the 2018 New Year Honours for services to art. 

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