Practices of site : Walter de Maria and Robert Morris,1960-1977



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This dissertation is a history of site-related practice in the work of Robert Morris and Walter de Maria. Grounded in a close analysis of the spatio-temporal conditions of their work from the early 1960s forward, this study investigates site as an important epistemological condition of this time. In pairing these two artists, who have associations with the art historical categories of Fluxus, Minimalism, Land Art, Conceptual art, and Installation, this study also reconsiders the limitations of these categories. This study is arranged in roughly chronological form and considers a variety of experiential models in relationship to site. Chapter One addresses the early interdisciplinary and performative practices of the two artists in association with the emergence of Fluxus, new dance, and minimal music. Chapter Two considers how the diverse intermedia conditions of the early 1960s affect an understanding of minimalism in the work of De Maria and Morris. Chapter Three investigates the two well-known extensive site-related works of Morris and De Maria – De Maria’s The Lightning Field (1971-1977), and Morris’ Observatory (1971/1977). Chapter Four explores the print media as a site of practice for these artists during this period.