Andy Goldsworthy’s art
To my mind, at least, I view Andy Goldsworthy’s work as a continuation of the anti-art sentiment of Tzara, Duchamp, and Serner. If we take as the definition of art that it is, in at least some senses, manufactured, and as many “non-comformist” groups of artists will argue that modern art now exists within the realm of commerce, Goldsworthy’s work stands in stark contrast. Though one can debate the notion of a manufactured piece, I would argue that Goldsworthy does not manufacture as much as rearrange. He take the elements of the earth that are already present and moves and places them (often without manipulating their form) to a central location. Further, let’s look at the images he produces: very simple, almost primal patterns of colors and simple shapes. His use of circles and spirals. There is a bareness to what he does. And, perhaps most importantly, and the primary reason I find his work as the new “anti-art” is that his work is entirely ephemeral. Nothing he ever does lasts. The circle of yellow, red, and purple leaves will blow away with a strong wind. The snow circles will melt. The elements he manipulates exist within the world that will destroy them, and are not, unless people remove them to a gallery, sanctified and doggedly protected as other works may be. Goldsworthy’s work is not meant for a gallery or an exhibition. It is meant for the earth, which will reconstitute it within our lifetime, often within weeks of its genesis. True, all art will one day fade away, just as the surging current of time will take everything one way or another. But, in all likelihood, for some things at least, we will not see it. Whereas Damien Hirst freezes a shark in time in a tank of formaldehyde, Goldsworthy’s pieces will die before our eyes. They are visual representations, perfectly so, of the temporary existence of form in the natural world that will degrade into chaos once more. Goldsworthy’s “art” flies in the face of the socially ascribed tendency to place value upon something based upon its age. Goldsworthy’s work has no age. It is born and dies easily and quickly. That’s why it’s the new anti-art, for me.