Richard Long

Black Dust Hand Line


Not on display

Richard Long born 1945
Lithograph and screenprint on paper
Support: 1905 × 921 mm
frame: 1974 × 985 × 43 mm
Tate and National Galleries of Scotland. Lent by Anthony d'Offay 2010
On long term loan


Black Dust Hand Line is a large-scale lithograph and screenprint created in an edition of sixty. A swirly black pattern forms a tall, thin rectangle in the centre of the paper. Below this, and aligned with the edges of the rectangle, the words BLACK DUST HAND LINE are printed in red ink in Gill Sans typeface. The print is signed and numbered 51/60 in pencil below the image. The surface of the print has a rich, velvety-looking texture. The edition was printed by Maurice Sanchez at the Derriere L’Etoile Studios in New York and published by Brooke Alexander Gallery, New York. The print is usually displayed alongside Long’s contemporary work 60 Minute Walk 1990 (Tate AL00207), also in the ARTIST ROOMS collection.

Black Dust Hand Line and 60 Minute Walk both include a thin black vertical rectangle containing a swirled pattern. To create this pattern – from which the print was subsequently made – Long worked ink, or something similar, with his fingertips. Long often uses his hands for mark making in this way and has referred to ‘the primal energy of handprints and fingerprints.’ (Quoted in Elliott 2007, p.52.) Long has used the particular method of swirled mark-making seen in Black Dust Hand Line in other works including Waterfall Line 2000 (Tate T11970), which was commissioned for the opening of Tate Modern in 2000. Discussing a related work, Akita Waterfall Line 2003 (Sophie Home for the Elderly, Akita City, Japan), the artist alluded to ‘the nature of human energy in the speed of my hand.’ (Quoted in Tufnell 2007, p.49.) This way of working results in a painterly finish in which splats and splashes remain visible. For the artist, these irregular patterns reflect the ‘cosmic variety’ of nature, the ‘clouds, snow flakes, fingerprints, rivers, waterfalls, which never repeat.’ (Quoted in Tufnell 2007, p.49.)

The formal similarity of Black Dust Hand Line to 60 Minute Walk suggests that the two works were made as a pair. While 60 Minute Walk refers to a walk undertaken by the artist in Texas, Black Dust Hand Line bears no such specific reference. Instead, through its title, it suggests a much more open-ended interpretation, recalling arid, dusty landscapes, which might well be Texan, but could equally be elsewhere.

Further reading
Patrick Elliott, Richard Long: Walking and Marking, exhibition catalogue, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh 2007.
Ben Tufnell (ed.), Richard Long: Selected Statements & Interviews, London 2007.
Gerard Vermeulen (ed.), Richard Long: Prints 1970–2013, exhibition catalogue, Hamburger Kunsthalle, London 2013, p.102, reproduced p.103.

Ruth Burgon
The University of Edinburgh
January 2014

The University of Edinburgh is a research partner of ARTIST ROOMS.

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