Walter De Maria
|Walter De Maria|
"Seen/Unseen Known/Unknown" at Naoshima, Kagawa prefecture, Japan
October 1, 1935 |
|Field||Installation art, Sculpture|
Walter De Maria is an American sculptor and composer. He lives and works in New York. He was born in Albany, California on October 1, 1935.
Early life and career 
He studied history and art at the University of California, Berkeley from 1953 to 1959. Although trained as a painter, De Maria soon turned to sculpture and began using other media. De Maria and his friend, the avant-garde composer La Monte Young, participated in Happenings and theatrical productions in the San Francisco area. From his exposure to the work of La Monte Young and dancer Simone Forti, among others, De Maria developed an interest in task-oriented, gamelike projects that resulted in viewer-interactive sculptures. For example, his Boxes for Meaningless Work (1961) is inscribed with the instructions, “Transfer things from one box to the next box back and forth, back and forth, etc. Be aware that what you are doing is meaningless.”
In 1960, De Maria moved to New York. His early sculptures from the 1960s were influenced by Dada and other modern art movements. This influence led De Maria into using simple geometric shapes and industrially manufactured materials such as stainless steel and aluminum – materials which are also characteristic of Minimal art. With the support of collector Robert C. Scull, De Maria started making pieces in metal in 1965. Also in the mid 1960s, he became involved in various artistic activities. His piece, "Cage", for John Cage, was included in the seminal 1966 "Primary Structures" exhibit at the Jewish Museum in New York. He appeared at happenings, composed two musical works (Cricket Music, 1964; Ocean Music, 1968), and produced two films (Three Circles and Two Lines in the Desert; Hardcore, both 1969).
In 1965 De Maria became the drummer in the New York-based rock group The Primitives and an artist/musician collaborative group called The Druds—the group included Lou Reed and John Cale, i.e., it was a precursor to The Velvet Underground.
From 1968 De Maria produced Minimalist sculptures and Installations such as the Munich Erdraum of 1968. He realized Land art projects in the deserts of the southwest US, with the aim of creating situations where the landscape and nature, light and weather would become an intense, physical and psychic experience. After De Maria, the notion of the work of art is intended to make the viewer think about the earth and its relationship to the universe. The artistic practice of De Maria is connected with Minimal art, Conceptual art, and Land art.
The Lightning Field (1977) is De Maria’s best-known work. It consists of 400 stainless steel posts arranged in a calculated grid over an area of 1 mile × 1 km. The time of day and weather change the optical effects. It also lights up during thunder storms. The field is commissioned and maintained by Dia Art Foundation.
In the 1960s and 1970s De Maria created enduring urban works. As complementary pieces, Vertical Earth Kilometer (1977), and The Broken Kilometer (1979), address the idea of unseen or abstracted distance. Vertical Earth Kilometer is a one-kilometer long brass rod, two inches in diameter, drilled into Friedrichsplatz Park in central Kassel, Germany. The rod’s circular top, flush to the earth’s surface, is framed by a two-meter square plate of red sandstone. In 1979, De Maria meticulously arranged five hundred brass rods for The Broken Kilometer, a permanent installation at 393 West Broadway in New York. In contrast to the hard metal of both Kilometer pieces, the third of these urban works, The New York Earth Room (1977), is a 3,600-square-foot room filled to a depth of 22 inches with 250 cubic yards of earth (the New York work is a permanent iteration of Munich Earth Room, 1968, a temporary installation in Munich). Also in 1977, the artist recreated the work at the Heiner Friedrich Gallery in New York, which was then permanently reinstalled in 1980 at 141 Wooster Street, New York. Similarly to the Lightning Field, the Broken Kilometer and New York Earth Room installations remain on continuous view, maintained by Dia Art Foundation.
The Broken Kilometer is also part of De Maria's series of monumental sculptures using a horizontal format, which feature groupings of elements ordered according to precise calculations. This series includes 360°/I-Ching (1981), A Computer Which Will Solve Every Problem in the World/3-12 Polygon (1984), 13, 14, 15 Meter Rows (1985), Apollo's Ecstasy (1990), and The 2000 Sculpture (1992).
In 1989 De Maria completed a sphere of polished granite for the Assemblée Nationale in Paris, followed in 2000 and 2004 by works for two museums on Naoshima Island in Japan, the Naoshima Contemporary Art Museum and the Chichu Art Museum. A comparable, 25-ton sculpture entitled Large Red Sphere (2002) was installed in the Türkentor, Munich, in 2010.
One Sun/34 Moons (2002), conceived by the artist in collaboration with architect Steven Holl, was opened 2007 at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City. In 2010, The 2000 Sculpture (1992) was the first work of art to inaugurate the Resnick Pavilion at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
De Maria and Robert Whitman opened the 9 Great Jones Street gallery in New York in 1963; the same year, De Maria’s first solo show of sculpture was presented there. In 1968 and 1977, De Maria participated in Documenta in Kassel; he installed his permanent public sculpture Vertical Earth Kilometer in the city's Friedrichsplatz Park. In 1977, a major exhibition of De Maria’s sculpture was held at the Kunstmuseum Basel in 1972. He has also since been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions organized by Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris (1981), Museum Boymans-van Beuningen in Rotterdam (1984), Staatsgalerie in Stuttgart (1987), Moderna Museet in Stockholm (1988), Gemäldegalerie in Berlin (1998), and Chichu Art Museum in Naoshima (2000 and 2004). Organized by the Menil Collection in 2011, "Walter De Maria: Trilogies" was the artist’s first major museum exhibition in the United States.
Notes and references 
- [dead link]
- Walter De Maria: Museum Piece (1966) Guggenheim Collection.
- Dave Thompson, Your Pretty Face Is Going to Hell:The Dangerous Glitter of David Bowie, Iggy Pop, and Lou Reed (Backbeat Books, 2009), p. 5.
- Hurd, P (ed.) 2000, The Prestel Dictionary of Art and Artists in the 20th Century, Prestel Verlag, Munich.
- Mccord, R. "The Lightning Field. Santa Fe Always Online.
- Walter De Maria: Trilogies, September 16, 2011– January 8, 2012 Menil Collection, Houston.
- "Dia Art Foundation - Walter De Maria: The Broken Kilometer". Diacenter.org. Retrieved 2012-07-15.
- Walter De Maria: A Computer Which Will Solve Every Problem in the World / 3 - 12 Polygon, March 31 - May 19, 2007 Gagosian Gallery, New York.
- Le Guide de la visite du Palais Bourbon et de l'Hôtel de Lassay: La Cour d'Honneur Assemblée Nationale.
- Walter De Maria at Türkentor Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, Munich.
- "“Testing” the Resnick Pavilion—with Walter De Maria’s Help « Unframed The LACMA Blog". Lacma.wordpress.com. 2010-06-08. Retrieved 2012-07-15.
- Biography: Walter de Maria Guggenheim Collection
- [dead link]
- Tate Etc.
- Galerie Lelong, Paris
- Walter De Maria[dead link] noise music recordings on Ubuweb
- Benesse Art Site Naoshima