A Line Made by Walking by Richard Long

Title: Line Made by Walking
Date: 1967
Movement: Earth Art
Media: Photograph
Location: Tate Museum, London, UK

Artist: Richard Long
Born: 2 June 1945

A straight line in the grass giving the impression of a path through the act of walking. Richard Long transforms the landscape into his personal canvas by repeatedly pacing until a distinct line appears in an ordinary patch of grass in a London Park. The artist then documents his alteration to the scene with a photograph taken at a perpendicular angle to enhance the mark he has made. Part performance, part sculpture and part photography the work transcends these categories to create a piece that exists in them all. His process was as much about the resulting photograph as the sculpture was about expressing the journey and the action of walking.

Long was still a student at St Martin’s School of Art, London, when he broke with the normal expectations of sculpture and demonstrated that an impermanent mark in nature is a meaningful gesture. Part of the Conceptual Art movement, the importance of the work shifted from the creation of an object to the realization of an idea. The photograph creates a permanent marker of the event, whilst the image itself will quickly be erased by nature. Long expands the definition of art to include the everyday and ordinary with and mindfulness that change may or may not be a lasting object.

Long’s work returns to the more mystical notions of artistic creation, although he conveys his ideas through minimalist means. The line shows an exertion of human energy and intent. In this sense, it is a highly conceptual definition of the transience of time, distance and place that presents all three in a very grounds and physical landscape.

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