The Body is the Map: Approaches to Land in the Americas After 1960

Ellen Johnson Gallery
January 22–June 23, 2019



In the 1960s, a nascent artistic movement known as Land art defied the primacy of the white-walled museum or gallery as the site of aesthetic encounter. Journeying far from New York, these artists instead created monumental works out in the land, frequently using earth as a sculptural material. Moving art outdoors challenged the spatiality and temporality of art as most understood it at the time, although almost all of these artists referenced ancient or indigenous precedents in their work. 

Though often left implicit, the body was central to early Land art and has only grown in importance, with artists considering anew how the human body and everything it carries, including gender, race, class, culture, and ethnicity, intersect with the environments we inhabit and traverse. The works in this exhibition—a survey of postwar art in the Americas from the AMAM collection—speak in vastly different ways across mediums about the relationships between body and land. What they share is an expansive view of history and an optimism about the role of art in navigating our increasingly interconnected, politically fraught, and environmentally endangered world.

This exhibition was organized by Andrea Gyorody, Ellen Johnson ’33 Assistant Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, with the assistance of Amy Baylis ’20.

Image:
Ana Mendieta (American, born in Cuba, 1948–1985)
Untitled (Guanaroca [First Woman]), 1981, printed in 1994
Gelatin silver print
Gift of Cristina Delgado (OC 1980) and Stephen F. Olsen (OC 1979), 2011.14.1