A Line Made by Walking

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A Line Made by Walking is a 1967 sculpture by British artist Richard Long. The piece was made when Long walked a continuous line into a field of grass in Wiltshire, England, and then photographed the result.[1] The work is considered to be an important early work in the history of both land art and conceptual art.[2][3] It has been described as among Long's signature works, and as his "best-known early piece".[1][4]


A Line Made by Walking was made in 1967 when Long was a 22-year-old art student at Saint Martin's School of Art, London.[5][6] At the time, Long commuted regularly between his home in Bristol and the school, a journey of around 120 miles.[6] Stopping in Wiltshire,[6][7] he found a grassy area and walked a straight path in it repeatedly until a line was visible. He then took a black and white photograph of the result.[1][5][8]

The work was considered innovative at the time as it proposed that the simple act of walking could be an art form,[9] and that art could be produced by the foot as well as the hand.[1] The piece also questioned whether the performance – or the document of the performance – was the actual artwork.[7][10][11] As such it presented a challenge to what was traditionally understood to be as sculpture.[12] The work, which set the tone for Long's career as an artist,[13] was one of his earliest pieces[14][15] and his first walking-based piece.[16][17][18] In the context of Long's career, A Line Made by Walking manifested the artist's fascination with trails and traces as mapped histories, a very prevalent theme in his work.[19][20]

A Line Made by Walking established Long as a minimalist and conceptual sculptor; it was also an early example of land art.[21] Long created several pieces which hark back to the 1967 original including circles or organic paths, some in snow, dust, or even charred grass.[22] These include Walking a Line in Peru (1972), a narrow path walked across a wide plain, leading to the foothills of distant mountains;[22] A Line and Tracks in Bolivia (1981), approximately 150 feet long with accompanying tracks intersecting;[22] Sea Level Waterline in Death Valley, California (1982), a path walked at the zero foot contour, representing sea level in low-lying Death Valley;[22] and A Line in Nepal (1983), a forest path approximately 50 feet long.[22]


The work is held in the collections of the Tate Museum, London,[6] the Courtald Gallery,[23] the Getty Museum[24] and the National Galleries of Scotland.[25] It has also been on display in the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York,[4] as part of a major exhibition of Long's work held by that museum in the 1970s and 1980s.[26]

The 2017 novel, A Line Made by Walking, by Sara Baume, is named for the artwork.[27][28]


  1. ^ a b c d Macfarlane, Robert (22 May 2009). "Walk the Line". The Guardian.
  2. ^ Badger, Gerry (2010). The Pleasures of Good Photographs: Essays. ISBN 9781597111393.
  3. ^ "BBC Arts - BBC Arts - I walk the line: How Richard Long turns epic journeys into art". 10 May 2018.
  4. ^ a b Art in America, Volume 75 (1987), page 163.
  5. ^ a b Roelstraete, Dieter (2010). Richard Long: A Line Made by Walking. ISBN 9781846380600.
  6. ^ a b c d "'A Line Made by Walking', Richard Long, 1967".
  7. ^ a b Faber, Dr Hege Charlotte; Strandhagen, Brit; Bøe, Dr Solveig (2014-10-31). Raw: Architectural Engagements with Nature. ISBN 9781472421005.
  8. ^ Manning, Robert; Manning, Martha (May 2017). Walks of a Lifetime: Extraordinary Hikes from Around the World. ISBN 9781493026425.
  9. ^ Higgins, Charlotte (2012-06-15). "Richard Long: 'It was the swinging 60s. To be walking lines in fields was a bit different'". The Guardian.
  10. ^ Solnit, Rebecca (June 2001). Wanderlust: A History of Walking. ISBN 9781101199558.
  11. ^ Ross, Christine (2012-06-28). The Past is the Present; It's the Future Too: The Temporal Turn in Contemporary Art. ISBN 9781441147745.
  12. ^ "New Statesman". 2009.
  13. ^ Dapena-Tretter, Antonia (2014). "Richard Long's Passage as Line: Measuring Toward the Horizon". Iowa Journal of Cultural Studies. 15 (1): 103–116. doi:10.17077/2168-569X.1443.
  14. ^ Malpas, William (2007). The Art of Richard Long: Complete Works. ISBN 9781861711878.
  15. ^ Encyclopedia of Twentieth Century Photography, Lynne Warren: Photography. 2006-05-16. ISBN 9781579583934.
  16. ^ Ruhrberg, Karl; Honnef, Klaus; Fricke, Christiane; Schneckenburger, Manfred (2000). Art of the 20th Century. ISBN 9783822859070.
  17. ^ Brettell, Richard R.; Friis-Hansen, Dana (1996). Richard Long: Circles, cycles, mud, stones. Contemporary Arts Museum. ISBN 9780936080383.
  18. ^ "Richard Long | Artists | Collection | British Council − Visual Arts".
  19. ^ Haldane, John (October 2007). "Richard Long. Edinburgh". The Burlington Magazine. 149 (1255): 723–724. JSTOR 20075034.
  20. ^ Haas, Phillip. "Stones and Flies. Richard Long in the Sarah". Alexander Street. Retrieved 6 December 2019.
  21. ^ "Artist Richard Long's groundbreaking A line made by walking". Public Delivery. 2019-08-20. Retrieved 2019-12-07.
  22. ^ a b c d e "Sculptures". Richard Long. Retrieved 6 December 2019.
  23. ^ "A&A | A Line Made By Walking". www.artandarchitecture.org.uk.
  24. ^ "A Line Made by Walking (Getty Museum)".
  25. ^ "A Line Made by Walking". National Galleries of Scotland.
  26. ^ "Richard Long". Guggenheim Museum. Retrieved 2 December 2019.
  27. ^ Cross, Stephanie (March 12, 2017). "A Line Made By Walking by Sara Baume – review". The Guardian.
  28. ^ Gujarathi, Chika (April 18, 2017). "Sara Baume: Portrait of an artist in retreat". BookPage.