In a major departure from his usual practice of working in the rural landscape, Andy Goldsworthy will present photographs, sculpture and videos made exclusively in New York City. In New York Dirt Water Light, Goldsworthy’s subjects include debris, passersby, and the interplay of natural and artificial light—demonstrating the artist’s broad, compelling understanding of nature. The exhibition at Galerie Lelong will include nine photographic suites, a triptych of “rain shadow” videos, and a sculptural installation made of dirt collected from the city streets. The exhibition will open to the public on Thursday, May 6 from 6 to 8 pm, and the artist will be present.
Since 1993, when Goldsworthy presented his first solo exhibition in New York City, the artist has sought to find a way to convey the nature in urban environments. The heart of New York Dirt Water Light is a series of time-based photographs that represent Goldsworthy’s most intensive work in an urban setting to date. On two separate trips, he spent several weeks in New York, choosing Times Square as the city epicenter and the site for most of his experiments. Often working at night, he drew lines and circles on the ground with water and documented them in the vagaries of natural and artificial light as they evaporated. Amid the frenzied activity of the city, Goldsworthy’s works are radically quiet, using the simplest of means.
Goldsworthy will also show a video triptych of his “rain shadows,” a motif he has revisited throughout his career. In these works, Goldsworthy lies outside as it begins to rain, remaining still until the surrounding ground is wet. After he stands, the dry imprint of his body lingers, fading slowly as the rain continues to fall. To make his rain shadows in an environment as congested and fast-paced as Manhattan posed an interesting challenge for the artist.
The final piece in the exhibition is a sculptural installation composed of dirt collected over several days from different locations in the city. By concentrating and displacing the common, unassuming substance, Goldsworthy challenges and heightens our perception of our physical environment. “People and dirt,” says Goldsworthy, “are nature in New York.” As displayed in the exhibition, Goldsworthy’s recurring themes—effects of time, the relationship between people and environments, the persistence of cycles—are as present and provocative on the densely populated, hyper-developed streets as they are in the remote landscapes of his most recognized works.
Since his last exhibition at Galerie Lelong in 2007, Goldsworthy has completed numerous public and private commissions, including Spire at the Presidio of San Francisco; three prominent works at Jupiter Artland, a sculpture park in Edinburgh; and En las entrañas del árbol, an installation presented by the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia. Thames and Hudson recently published The Andy Goldsworthy Project, a book on his work at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. and other permanent commissions. Currently, the artist is at work on projects at the Saint Louis Art Museum, Albright Knox Art Gallery, and Storm King Art Center, among others.