Richard Long began using mud in his art in the early 1970s and has created mud works on both a large and small scale. Here the mud has been applied in such a way as to echo its appearance in the environment: a natural material representing nature. The mud used here is from the River Avon, the river running through the area in which Long grew up and lives. By naming the series with the simple and direct title 'River Avon Mud Drawings', Long presents the works in an almost taxonomic way.
Richard Long's works are concerned with his physical and conceptual relationship to the landscape. The raw materials of nature, particularly mud and stone, are integral to his art and reoccur throughout his work. He is known for his documentation of walks through the landscape, some of which are recorded in a textual format, while others are documented through photographs of the impressions made in the landscape by the artist.
Richard Long was born in Bristol in 1945. He studied at the West of England College of Art between 1962 and 1965. From 1966 to 1968 he was a student at St Martin’s School of Art in London. Long was one of an exceptional group of students at St Martin’s and counted Bruce McLean, Gilbert and George, and Barry Flanagan amongst his contemporaries. Like others of his generation he sought to push the boundaries of what was considered ‘sculpture’. In 1967, Long started making non-permanent sculptures by walking, cycling and hitch-hiking, documenting the ‘work’ through maps and photographs. His first walking sculpture was called A Line Made by Walking, England (1967), and was a line of flattened grass made by walking up and down repeatedly in a field.
In the 1970s, as his practice developed, Long started incorporating the raw materials of nature in his work. Rather than make conceptual sculptures which only existed in as memories or in documents, Long began to make physical works for the gallery, such as circles, lines, and arches made of stone or wood, as well as mud paintings. He represented Britain at the Venice Biennale in 1976 and among the many exhibitions which have followed, notable solo shows include: the Guggenheim Museum (1986); the Tate Gallery, (1990); the Hayward Gallery, London, (1991); the São Paulo Bienal (1994); the Henry Moore Institute, Leeds (1997); Yorkshire Sculpture Park (1998); Tate St. Ives (2002); and the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art (2007). He has been short-listed for the Turner Prize four times; in 1984, 1987, 1988 and 1989. Recent solo exhibitions of Long’s work include shows at The New Art Gallery, Walsall and the Faena Arts Centre, Buenos Aires (2014); the Kunsthalle, Hamburg and The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, Stoke-on-Trent (2013); and at The Hepworth, Wakefield (2012). Long was appointed CBE in 2012 for his services to art.
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