Heaven and Earth is a major exhibition of the work of Richard Long and his first survey in London for eighteen years. The exhibition will include important works selected across four decades and will provide an opportunity to understand afresh Long’s radical rethinking of the relationship between art and landscape. Comprising around 80 works, Heaven and Earth will include sculptures, new large-scale wall works, and photographic and text works documenting walks around the world, from Dartmoor to Japan.
Richard Long first came to prominence in the late 1960s and is part of a generation of British artists who extended the possibilities of sculpture beyond traditional materials and methods. Long’s work is rooted in his deep affinity with nature, developed during solitary walks. Long revolutionised the definition of sculpture by using walking as a medium. These walks take him through rural areas in Britain, or as far a field as the plains of Canada, Mongolia and Bolivia. Long never makes significant alterations to the landscapes he passes through. Instead he adjusts the natural order of wilderness places, up-ending stones for example, or making simple, geometric shapes. His work explores relationships between time, distance, geography, measurement and movement.
Heaven and Earth will reflect the distinctive themes and interests in his work; sculptures of stones, watery mud works, and photographic and text works which record walks in global locations, or from a local area of life-long interest like Dartmoor. Long presents his work in various forms, which include artists’ books and postcards, all of which are ascribed equal value. The exhibition will include key early works such as A Line Made by Walking, England 1967, made in a field where the artist walked back and forth until the flattened grass caught by the sunlight became visible as a line, a path going ‘nowhere’. Long then photographed this work, as he has continued to record similar works in the landscape.
Mostly working in the landscape, Richard Long sometimes brings materials into the gallery. Four of Long’s dramatic mud works, which represent the forces of speed, water, chance and gravity will be made directly on to the walls for the show. The large central gallery of the exhibition will be devoted to six major stone sculptures. Norfolk Flint Circle 1990 is an eight metre sculpture consisting of a single layer of flints lying close together on the floor. In the gallery, as on his walks, Long lays the stones in simple geometric configurations such as circles, lines, and ellipses. The exhibition will also include early examples of remote stone sculptures such as the first stone circle made while walking in the Andes in 1972.
Richard Long was born in Bristol in 1945 where he continues to live and work. Long has exhibited widely since his first solo show at the Konrad Fischer Gallery in Düsseldorf in 1968. He represented Britain in the British Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 1976 and was awarded the Turner Prize in 1989. In 1990 he became a Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. Heaven and Earth is curated by Clarrie Wallis, Curator of Contemporary Art, Tate Britain, assisted by Helen Little, Assistant Curator, Tate Britain. A fully illustrated publication produced by Tate Publishing will accompany the exhibition and will include previously unseen works.