The investigation of landscape, nature and ecology in contemporary art has its roots, in part, in the legacy of Romanticism and the search for man's place within the world.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Joseph Beuys: 7000 Oaks

The expression of politics and history through the land has been a key aspect of contemporary conceptual practices as artists have continued to grapple with their place within a changing global environment. Since the 1960s this has been coupled with an engagement with ecological preoccupations and the development of political debate around it. Perhaps more than any other artist, Joseph Beuys, a founder of the Green Party in Germany, brought together these concerns in his desire to use art to initiate environmental and social change. The culmination of Beuys's ideas could be said to be 7000 Oak Trees, a proposal to plant 7000 oak trees which he hoped would provoke the ecological awakening of humankind.

Beuys delivered a large pile of basalt stones, which, when seen from above formed large arrow pointing to a single oak tree that he had planted. Next, he announced that the stones should not be moved unless an oak tree was planted in the new location of the stone. With the help of volunteers, the artist was able to plant seven thousand trees over several years, each with an accompanying basalt stone. The last tree was planted on the opening of Documenta 8.

Dia Art Foundation - Joseph Beuys: 7000 Oaks

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