For Students

Past Exhibitions: 2003

Andy Goldsworthy: Mountain and Coast, Autumn into Winter

Through April 13, 2003
Twentieth Century Gallery

Andy GoldsworthyWoven bamboo, windy...,

Andy Goldsworthy
Woven bamboo, windy...,
Before the Mirror

Internationally renowned Scottish artist Andy Goldsworthy has spent the past two decades revealing nature’s secrets. Through the careful selection and arrangement of items readily found in nature, Goldsworthy creates installations in the natural environment that last from only a few moments to several years. The tools of his trade are his own two hands; his media are stones, sticks, leaves, sand, feathers, snow, ice, or whatever the natural environment offers him. Fixing his fragile compositions in place are thorns, water, ice, and gravity itself. His results are amazing.

In a work where he affixes wet red leaves to the side or top of a faceted stone, the viewer is made aware of the multitude of intersecting and interlocking planes that make up the landscape. A line of multicolored autumnal leaves, held together by thorns, floats sinuously in a slow-moving stream, revealing the invisible currents constantly flowing before our eyes. A pile of stones, whose colors are graduated from white to black, celebrates the diversity of naturally occurring elements.

Some of Goldsworthy’s works also function on a more abstract level, much like an abstract painting or sculpture. A theme found in several of his pieces is a dark circular void or hole in the center of the composition. Whether created through the use of found sticks and twigs, carefully stacked and color-graded leaves, or white, black, and gray pebbles, these manmade circular forms seem out of place in the natural environment, yet they reference and mimic the cyclical character of nature with its endless rounds of birth, growth, death, and rebirth.

Another abstract form in Goldsworthy’s compositions is a curving and undulating line. While these animated and dynamic lines seem snakelike in their character, many other natural analogies come to mind, from the meandering of a river, to the trail cut by wild pigs through the undergrowth, to the curvilinear contour of an oak leaf.

Throughout all his investigations, Goldsworthy evokes a time before the flight to urban environments, when people were generally more connected to the natural world and attuned to its habits, tilling the soil, building stone walls to hold in animals, dealing with floods, storms, and droughts. Through Goldsworthy’s work, we experience the world he knows and the world that our ancestors knew.

Given the fleeting nature of most of his creations, Goldsworthy’s photography of his works is often the only artwork that we are witness to. Serving not only to document the work, the photographs capture both the temporary arrangement and a sense of the inherent soul of the piece. Accessible and poetic, Goldsworthy’s creations and the photographs of them inspire a rediscovery of the beauty, bounty, and diversity of the world in which we all coexist, both with each other and with nature itself.

Sean M. Ulmer
University Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art

Andy Goldsworthy: Mountain and Coast, Autumn into Winter is made possible by National City Bank. Additional support has been provided by the Office of the President of the University of Michigan, Matthaei Botanical Gardens, and the Friends of the Museum of Art. This exhibition was organized by Haines Gallery of San Francisco in cooperation with the artist.


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