In 1969 the legendary Earth Art exhibition took place at Cornell University. A new kind of exhibition, curated by Willoughby Sharp, it presented site-specific installations by nine international artists, scattered around the Cornell campus and the surrounding Ithaca landscape. Responding in part to consumerism, mass media, and the insularity of art in the late 1960s, these installations were also shown in the context of a developing international environmental movement.
It is at this intersection—where art meets life—that the influence of the 1960s earth artists has perhaps had the most significant impact on a current generation of artists working on issues related to the environment and sustainability. With metaphor, humor, and direct action, artists are able to represent ideas and reveal patterns often hidden beneath the surface by merging rational observation with beauty, creativity, and inspiration.
Comprising separate installations and exhibitions that address issues related to the representation of landscape, water supply, food justice, recycling, fair distribution of natural resources, and the nature/culture divide, beyond earth art • contemporary artists and the environment was on view in all of the Johnson Museum’s temporary exhibition galleries and lobbies, as well as outside the Museum on the facade and grounds. The work included operates in the gap between the objectivity of scientific data and the subjectivity of creative expression, signaling the interconnectedness of the themes addressed.
The exhibition Food-Water-Life/Lucy+Jorge Orta, curated by c2 | curatorsquared and organized by the Tufts University Art Gallery, was also on view as part of the beyond earth art project.
Materials related to the 1969 Earth Art exhibition were also be presented, alongside works from the permanent collection by some of the Earth Art artists as well as others who were working in a similar mode in the 1970s and ’80s.
The artists in the exhibition were Ansel Adams, Michael Ashkin, Brandon Ballengée, Anna Betbeze, Janet Biggs, Matthew Brandt, Troy Brauntuch, Edward Burtynsky, Adam Cvijanovic, Blane De St. Croix, Agnes Denes, Mark Dion, Chris Doyle, Olafur Eliasson, Jack Elliott, Rose-Lynn Fisher, Noriko Furunishi, Dionisio González, Helen Mayer Harrison & Newton Harrison, Christian Houge, Yun-Fei Ji, Patricia Johanson, Chris Jordan, David LaChapelle, Maya Lin, Richard Long, Ana Mendieta, Robert Morris, Jean-Luc Mylayne, Dennis Oppenheim, Timothy O’Sullivan, Maria Park, Eric Poitevin, Maggie Puckett, Lucy Raven, Reynold Reynolds & Patrick Jolley, Alexis Rockman, Robert Smithson, Alan Sonfist, Michelle Stuart, SUPERFLEX, Alison Elizabeth Taylor, Maarten Vanden Eynde, Carleton E. Watkins, Marion Wilson, and Yang Yi.
beyond earth art • contemporary artists and the environment was curated by Andrea Inselmann, curator of modern and contemporary art & photography at the Johnson Museum. The project was supported in part by generous gifts from Constance and Tommy Bruce, Cynthia and Malcolm Davison, Henrietta P. Hillman ’47, Dale Reis Johnson ’58 and Dick Johnson ’57, Ronni Lacroute ’66, the Estate of Elizabeth Miller Francis ’47, and a grant from the Cornell Council for the Arts. Additional support was provided by the Sam and Adele Golden Foundation for the Arts and the Lannan Foundation.
Images from beyond earth art (Click an image to open slideshow)
Brandon Ballengée, Collapse, 2012. Courtesy of the artist and Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, NY. Photo: David O. Brown, Johnson Museum.›
Brandon Ballengée, Love Motel for Insects (Washington, DC, Variation) at the Smithsonian National Zoological Park, summer 2012 (Photo: Lindsay Wallace and Brandon Ballengéee)›
Janet Biggs, still from A Step on the Sun, 2012. Courtesy of Janet Biggs, CONNERSMITH, and Galerie Anita Beckers.›
Matthew Brandt, Great Salt Lake, UT 2, 2013. © Matthew Brandt and courtesy of Yossi Milo Gallery, NY.›
Adam Cvijanovic, The Discovery of America, 2012. Courtesy of the artist and Postmasters Gallery, NY. Photo: David O. Brown, Johnson Museum.›
Blane De St. Croix, Floating Fire, 2012. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: David O. Brown, Johnson Museum.›
Mark Dion, Trichechus manatus latirostris, 2013. Courtesy of the artist and Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, NY.›
Olafur Eliasson, The Park Series, 1998. The Ames Family Collection of Contemporary Photography, 2013.042.003 a-y.›
Maya Lin, Empty Room (detail), 2009–ongoing. Courtesy of the artist and the What is Missing? Foundation.›
Maya Lin, Silver Niagara, 2012–13. © Maya Lin Studio, courtesy Pace Gallery (Photo: Kerry Ryan McFate).›
Alison Elizabeth Taylor, Brooklyn Navy Yard, 2013. © Alison Elizabeth Taylor and courtesy of James Cohan Gallery, NY/Shanghai (Photo: Jason Mandella).›