Sunday, July 21, 2013

modern master: andy goldsworthy

It wasn't until about ten years ago that I became familiar with the work of sculptor and photographer Andy Goldsworthy. It was almost by coincidence that I happened to be attending a workshop for art educators at the National Gallery in Washington, DC, when the man himself and his crew of assistants were building a permanent installation there (below pic), only about twenty feet from where I was standing at one point. Before this day however, I honestly had no clue about Goldsworthy or his art, and if I did, I probably would have shook his hand and thanked him for what he's done. Only about a week later, after I borrowed his astoundingly good Rivers and Tides documentary from the library, I realized I had been in the presence of a true artistic genius. In the documentary the humble artist talks about how while studying art in college, he got bored with working in indoor studios and decided to venture outside in nature for inspiration. The following summer, after seeing Goldsworthy in DC, I made the six hour drive out to the Storm King Art Center in New York's Hudson Valley to see one of the most incredible and largest (mostly) outdoor sculpture parks in the world, including Goldsworthy's giant stone wall (above pic), at the very end of the 500 acre park. While Goldsworthy's photo books provide beautiful documentation of his outdoor works, lending a sort of permanence to an otherwise transient process, I find it is absolutely necessary to witness it all from start to finish for a thorough and fuller understanding of his work, completely rooted in nature. The Rivers and Tides documentary is the next best thing to being there, and you get to see all the failures leading up to the triumphs, however brief and impermanent they may be.