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Richard Long at Tate Britain


We nipped along to Tate Britain (we're so having to hold ourselves back from inserting a definite article before that...) yesterday to check out the new Richard Long show, Heaven and Earth.

If you don't know his stuff, Long is part of the loose set of artists whose work gets grouped under the heading Land Art (check out Robert Smithson's Spiral Jetty and James Turrell's Roden Crater as good examples from that gang; or pick up the Land and Environmental Art book from Thames & Hudson).

Long's art revolves around taking walks. Short walks, long walks, and some giant walks - in Walking to a Lunar Eclipse he treks 366 miles in 8 days - heck he must go through a lot of socks. He then creates a variety of pieces out of his perambulations. Sometimes he creates site-specific installations during the walks, as with Dusty Boots Line (below): these are ephemeral pieces, which may last days, weeks, months or even years, but which can only really be experienced in their locations. Long does photograph the pieces though, often presenting those photographs framed, with carefully hand lettered titles - and thus creating new works.


He also creates beautiful text pieces (such as Heaven and Earth, top), combining poetry, typography, art and historical record. These vary in scale, and many of them are presented in the exhibition as full size text pieces made out of cut vinyl, often occupying a full wall. Long also creates stunning sculptural pieces for exhibition, such as South Bank Circle (below), relocating materials found during his walks, and arranging them in stark geometrical forms. They're quite magnificent.


The show is brilliantly curated (largely thanks to Long's close involvement, writing the captions for the exhibition, and designing the guide too). The moment when you step from a room of photographs into a room of installed works is really brilliant. It's also interesting to see an artist whose work is so closely allied to graphic design - a large part of his output is in the form of artists books, all beautifully designed and typeset. In fact, walking through the show is a bit like taking a walk through a sumptuous book... The exhibition runs until 6 September, but don't dilly dally, get yourself along there as soon as you can.

posted: 25 June 2009
categories: Art | Events | Typography
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