Lucy Lippard walking true north (Inuvik, NT), 1969

Richard Long’s “A Line Made By Walking” (1967) is a drawing made by walking upon the face of the earth. The idea is simply to “walk back and forth until the grass is trodden into an evident line.” This work and others from the same period take on a strangely archaic aspect, as the artist’s interventions reveal the earth as a surface or ground to be marked, etched, and scarred by the body as the instrument of drawing, taking the role of pencil or pen. Long’s “A Line Made By Walking” suggests that we are all artists when we are walking, and from this point, there is only a short step to understanding body movement as the drawing of invisible lines in space. In fact, this work proposes that our lives are a series of maps of lines between points as we move from point A to B across a given area. Contemporary artists continue to explore drawing in such an expansive and physical context by transferring the methodologies of Land art to the urban sphere, shedding the form of its latent romanticism. Robin Rhode uses drawing in relation to his body as a means to explore the frustrations, illusions, and realities of life in tough areas of Johannesburg….

Land art was always about power—Long’s “drawings” depended upon his sense that he could act in and on the landscape by leaving a mark upon it, no matter how temporal….

Drawing’s proximity to thought is ever present in its meaning: as art critic Jean Fisher points out: “the act of drawing makes possible the magical identity between thought and action, because to draw is the quickest medium and can therefore protect the intensity of thought. To draw is never a transcription of thought (in the sense of writing) but rather a formulation or elaboration of the thought itself at the very moment it translates itself into an image.” (From Vitamin D)

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