Andy Goldsworthy

December 24, 2007
by findingDulcinea Staff
British artist Andy Goldsworthy’s ephemeral sculptures employ the mechanics of nature as well as its tools, using materials such as autumn leaves, thorns, and spit; melting ice crystals and snowballs; trees and stones; or the shadow of a form outlined in frost. Some of his works exist for only moments, as the sun melts the ice, the incoming tide breaks up the piled driftwood, or the stream carries away the meticulously forged chain of leaves. But the sculptures are preserved in the photographic record he makes, along with notes and drawings, during and after their creation.


The Andy Goldsworthy Digital Catalogue is an invaluable collection of the first 10 years of the artist’s work, comprising about 3,500 slides made from 1976 to 1986. The site includes critical essays, exhibition notes, and commentary.

Most of Goldsworthy’s photography has been collected in book form. Among them are:
Hand to Earth: Andy Goldsworthy Sculpture, 1976–1990; Andy Goldsworthy: A Collaboration with Nature (1990); Wood (1996); Time (2000), and Passage (2004). Each book presents the artist’s work through a different thematic lens.

Prints of Goldsworthy images are in the collections of major museums in the United States and abroad. Many of them can be viewed online; this 1999 image, “Wet Feathers/Wrapped around a stone/Before the incoming tide, Carrick”, is from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.


Born in England in 1956, Goldsworthy worked as a farm laborer from the age of 13. He relates the repetitive, earth-connected work of farming to the task of creating his art. Goldsworthy has lived for many years in Scotland, where the local landscape influences his creations. Not surprisingly, his museum installations are far less transient, but as site-specific and informed by nature as his other works. His long-term sculptural series, portrayed in the book Enclosure, reimagines and extends the concept of the sheepfold. In the United States, where he is on the faculty of Cornell University, his 1997-98 installation, Storm King Wall, at Storm King Art Center in New York State, creates a 2,000-foot-long wall of local stone that “walks” the landscape and evokes New England fieldstone walls of the 19th century.

New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art recorded the installation of Goldsworthy’s rooftop work, Stone Houses, in 2004.

Washington, D.C.’s National Gallery of Art offers a Quicktime panoramic view of the January 2005 installation of Goldsworthy’s work, Roof, also on its roof.

Commentary on his exhibitions and installations often note the emotional impact of his work, as in this review, with photos, his 2007 retrospective show at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park in England.


"I don't know what will happen but look forward to whatever changes occur."

This Q&A with Andy Goldsworthy from April 2007 goes into more detail about his process, while another Goldsworthy interview from the same season features stunning photographs to accompany the text.

The mesmerizing 2001 documentary, Andy Goldsworthy: Rivers and Tides, follows the artist through time, materials, and weather; working within the landscape, discussing his creative process, and occasionally defeated by his own artistic ally—nature itself.

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