Andy Goldsworthy Case Study Andy Goldsworthy is a famous British sculptor whose influences come primarily from the environment around him and the way society interacts with nature. His work is constructed solely from objects found in the environment he is working in the aim of the work itself to become a part of the environment around it, interacting with it in a way that makes it seem entirely out of place yet still in sync with what is around it. His own influences and connections to nature show through in the work he creates illustrating his the relations and experiences he has found through the land.
Andy Goldsworthy’s own life has a great impact on the work he creates. He was born on July 26, 1956 and grew up on the farm, working on it since the age of thirteen as a labourer. A lot of the work he creates is influenced by his experiences of farm life- the deconstruction of nature, the cycle of life and death and the role it plays in nature, simple farm objects such as bales of hay or broken walls and even the geometric aspects of the cultivated land itself.
These influences show very clearly in his work and demonstrate the impact his childhood and younger life had on the work he creates today.
The fact that Andy is an avid environmentalist also shows through in his work a lot. His work never has any negative impact on the environment in which it is created and is made from impermanent objects that decompose and become a part of the land itself over time. This idea is often associated with the Land art movement in which the land itself is a part of the art. This idea strongly supports Andy as an environmentalist as his work ultimately becomes a part of the land.
The themes that Andy explores in his work are most commonly the interactions between man and nature and the effects that these two different yet interconnected aspects of the world have on each other. This common theme can be found in a large portion of Andy’s work, the environment being manipulated by man into geometric forms and shapes that are not usually found within it. This element of geometric shape shows the structural aspects of man made objects and how they themselves impact the environment. The two elements of man made and organic readily contradict one another, yet sense of harmony is created between them. The theme of impermanence in Andy’s art is also explored by Andy’s photography of his sculptures. The photography is used as a way to preserve the sculpture in it’s prime before it inevitably decays and becomes a part of the environment from which it came. The themes that Andy displays in his work can be seen in a number of his sculptures. One such example is the sculpture ‘Rowan leaves and hole’ which can show the positive impacts man has had on the environment.
The work itself is constructed entirely from rowan leaves of different colours that move down in a gradient of dark to light before coming to focus on an entirely black hole. The leaves are in rich, warm tones ranging from a dark, blood red colour to a lighter medium yellow colour. The eye is immediately drawn to the hole in the middle of the piece and then to the leaves that surround it. The hole can be seen to represent man while the leaves represent the environment.
Though man can be interpreted as both a bad figure and a good figure in the sculpture, I believe that the bright, vibrant colours lend to a more optimistic view and that though man has planted itself in the centre of nature, nature can take positive reactions to what we do. The sculpture ‘Ice Spiral: Treesoul’ is also a good example of common themes that Andy uses in his work- the manipulation of the environment, the different forms nature can take and the ways these are connected, as well as the fleeting impermanence of the work he creates.
The sculpture is set in winter surroundings and is effectively a long, piece of ice that has been formed to spiral around a tree. The ice was most likely manipulated to form like that through rigorous melting as it would be uncommon for such an icicle to appear naturally. The ice is implied to be the soul of the tree showing a deep connection between different aspects of nature, in this case, a tree and water in the form of ice. The fact that the ice will eventually melt concurs to the idea of impermanent, ephemeral art. Once it melts it will become just another part of the land.
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