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Movements > Site-specific art/Environmental art

Pioneered in U.S., and international, mid-1960s

Site-specific or Environmental art refers to an artist’s intervention in a specific locale, creating a work that is integrated with its surroundings and that explores its relationship to the topography of its locale, whether indoors or out, urban, desert, marine, or otherwise. In its largest sense it applies to a work made by an artist in the landscape, either by radically manipulating the terrain in a remote area to produce an “earthwork” (such as Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty) or by creating ephemeral or removable tableaux along particular pathways so that the terrain is not permanently altered (Richard Long’s circles or lines of stones, Christo’s fabric walls or umbrellas). Other artists known for such work include Walter De Maria, Michael Heizer, Nancy Holt, Mary Miss, Robert Morris, Dennis Oppenheim, and James Turrell. The term also applies to an environmental installation or sculpture created especially for a particular gallery space or public site, by such artists as Joseph Beuys, Daniel Buren, Dan Flavin, Joseph Kosuth, Jannis Kounellis, Mario Merz, Claes Oldenburg, and many others. No matter which approach an artist takes, Site-specific art is meant to become part of its locale, and to restructure the viewer’s conceptual and perceptual experience of that locale through the artist’s intervention.

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