Sunday, October 25, 2009

Stone River

Stone River, by Andy Goldsworthy

I was at Stanford over the weekend for my class reunion and made a point to go see this Andy Goldsworthy installation outside the art museum. The curving stone wall is constructed in a shallow excavation, giving the impression of an archaeological dig or a vein of rock coursing through the earth's crust.

If you're not familiar with him, Goldsworthy is a British artist who uses the natural world -- sticks, leaves, stones, ice, landscapes -- as his canvas. A lot of his work is fleeting, captured only by camera, but lately he has been undertaking these massive curving wall installations.

I always have the same reaction to his work. At first I am wowed by the beauty of nature depicted in his photos, but then I realize that it is not really nature that I'm seeing -- at least not in the way that an Ansel Adams photograph is about nature. There is too much human ingenuity and manipulation out front and in your face; you just don't see patterns like these in the real world. Rather his art is almost a form of abstract design, using "nature" both as the medium and the topic.

Anyway, he's fantastic. There are any number of places to see his work online, such as here or here or here.

A fun side note is that Andy Goldsworthy seems to be the inspiration for a lot of the visual design of Spike Jonze's adaptation of Where the Wild Things Are (which was really good, by the way). For example, see this photo or the structure glimpsed fleetingly at 1:30 in the movie trailer.

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