Last week we watched a documentary on Andy Goldsworthy and his work. It was a really long video, but it was well worth watching. Andy Goldsworthy was born in Cheshire in 1956 and was raised in Yorkshire. He studied at Bradford College and Preston Polytechnic. Most of his work has been made in places such as Yorkshire Dales, the Lake District, Grize Fiord in Canada, the North Pole, Japan, the Australian outback, St. Louis, Missouri, and Dumfriesshire. The mediums he uses are what he finds in the remote locations he visits. These materials include twigs, leaves, stones, snow, ice, reeds, and thorns. The works are then recorded by photography. Goldsworthy has a whole set of slides that he keeps in his home.
Since we all watched the video in class, I would like to focus on his piece Roof, which is installed in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. After watching the documentary, I realized that he had an installation that I had seen before, which was the one in D.C. so I thought it would be interesting to look into it a little more.
The concept for the sculpture Roof, emanated from the artist’s interest in the origin of Washington building stones, and evokes the natural sources of this urban center. The sculpture is made up of nine, stacked-slate, hollow domes, each measuring approximately five and a half feet high and twenty-seven feet in diameter. Along with his other permanent pieces of art, Roof is the fullest articulation of a structure that he has made in less durable materials such as leaves, ice, and branches. To emphasize time, Goldsworthy’s long engagement with the dome sparks his interest in the markers of human passage through time. The structure itself follows a trajectory that includes Neolithic burial chambers and dwelling cairns, ancient Roman and Byzantine structures, which were Enlightenment architecture and modern public buildings.
The dome-like form developed in the artist’s piece from his desire to give depth to the hole, or void, a device that occupied Goldsworthy’s attention since early in his career. This reminds me of Mark Iwinski’s work, which I had just talked about in the previous post from the art event. They both have a thing for voids and the depth it brings. Back to Roof, Andy Goldsworthy constructed his domes so that a black hole has no light that can penetrate it.In addition to that, the dome acts as a geometric counterpoint to the angular site and building. The Buckingham Virginia slate, a highly reflective material, reinforces the effect of the light in the space, and alludes to the use of slate roofs in Washington. Goldsworthy’s title refers to the architectural function of the material and of the dome. By locating Roof on the ground, alternative meanings apply—a roof is also a home or a summit and the word “dome” derives from domus, Latin for house.
Other than the remarkable Andy Goldsworthy movie, the class had to present their own artists. I chose William Kentridge to present to the class. Most of the class seemed to like my presentation. The main thing I was worried about was trying to explain that there was no real conceptual meaning or method to Kentridge’s animations. He just makes things up as he goes, so it made it difficult to figure out what the deeper meaning of his charcoal animations were. Other than that, I really enjoyed researching him and his work. For more information on him, just scroll down to my other post on Kentridge.