ARTS 623
Earthworks, Environmental Sculpture and Eco-Art: 1965-Present

Michael Pestel       

Web:; Email:

Expectations and Outcomes

The expectations for this course hinge on students' ability to grapple with the issues presented and to bring them into an active artistic dialogue with real-life concerns about and an informed fascination with the environment. Though this is not a studio course, it aims to provide the conceptual tools and historical background needed for students to take steps beyond the classroom. In this spirit, Dr. Bob Johnson ( will guest lecture on "Artful Trash Management" and lead us in a workshop on the Connecticut River towards the end of the semester. Whenever he is asked what his own expectations are, i.e., how far he intends to take the Rivercube project, his response is always the same: "to the point where it becomes contagious!"

Required Texts

Overlay, Lucy Lippard. New York: Pantheon Books, 1983
Land and Environmental Art
, Kastner, Jeffrey and Wallis, Brian. London: Phaidon 1998
Sue Spaid. Cincinnati Contemporary Art Center, 2002.
Miscellaneous supplementary materials and Website:

Optional Recommended Texts

Earthworks and Beyond, 3rd Edition., John Beardsley. New York, Abbeville Press, 1998
The Lure of the Local
. Lippard, Lucy. New York. The New Press, 1997

Required Course Work and Grading

10% Participation and attendance
20% Two take-home quizzes (10% each)
30% Two paper/projects (15% each)*
40% Final research/project paper and class presentation**

*Short paper/project #1 (due 2/22): Two artists under discussion – Robert Smithson and Ana Mendieta – died tragically in their mid-30's.  Choose one of them, project yourself into their work, and design on paper a posthumous piece that might have been created had they lived. Please submit a written description of this work along with four references to documented works discovered through your research into these artists.  Optionally, you may create a maquette or an object, performance, video, or photos related to the projected work, but a written proposal with sketch(es) will suffice (3 pages).

#2 (due 3/29) TBA

**Final Paper/Project/Presentation (due 4/26): Here you have a choice of:
1)term paper (10-12 pp. including drawings, photos, or sketches) or
2) project and paper (5-6 pp)

Schedule and Readings

Topic Advance Preparation
January 25

Intro: Robert Irwin's categories


Read:  see Pre-start assignment 
Kastner/Wallis tba
  Lippard pp. 15-75

February 1

Stones, Feminism and Prehistory


Read:  see Pre-start assignment 
Kastner/Wallis tba
  Lippard pp. 15-75

February 8 The Forms of Time: Earth and Sky,        Words and Numbers

Re(ad)search: Kastner/Wallis tba Review:        Lippard pp. 77-119

February 15 Time and Again: Maps, Places and Journeys (Take-home quiz) Re(ad)search: Kastner/Wallis tba
Review:      Lippard pp. 121-156
February 22 Ritual
First quiz/paper/project due

Re(ad)search: Kastner/Wallis tba
Review:        Lippard pp. 159-195

March 1 Homes, Graves and Gardens Re(ad)search: Kastner/Wallis tba
Review:      Lippard pp. 197-238
March 8

The New Urban Landscape
Final research/project topic due

Re(ad)search: Kastner/Wallis tba
Read:      K&W pp. 10-41
March 22

Activism and The Greening of Art          (Take-home quiz)

Re(ad)search: Kastner/Wallis tba
Read:        Spaid pp. 1-52

March 29 Living with Brownfields
Second quiz/paper/project due
Re(ad)search: Kastner/Wallis tba Read:      Spaid pp. 53-64
April 5 Biodiversity/ Accommodating species

Re(ad)search: Kastner/Wallis tba Read:        Spaid pp. 65-88

April 12 Urban infrastructure/ Environmental Justice Re(ad)search: Kastner/Wallis tba Read:      Spaid pp. 89-108
April 19 Reclamation and Restoration Aesthetics Re(ad)search: Kastner/Wallis tba Read:      Spaid pp. 109-130
April 26

Individual Presentations                   Final paper/project due


Eco-Art, Environmental Sculpture, and Landscape Design
Bachelard, Gaston.
The Poetics of Space. Beacon (reprint) 1994
Beardsley, John.
Earthworks and Beyond, 3rd Ed. New York: Abbeville Press, 1998.
Beardsley, John.
Probing the Earth: Contemporary Land Projects. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1977.
Benthall, Jonathan.
The Relevance of Ecology in Battock, Gregory. Idea Art : A Critical Anthology . New York: Dutton, 1973.
Boettger, Suzaan.
Earthworks: Art and the Landscape of the Sixties. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002.
Bourdon, David.
Designing the Earth: The Human Impulse to Shape Nature. New York: H. N. Abrams, 1995.
Drury, Chris.
Found Moments in Time and Space. New York: Abrams, 1998.
Francis, Mark and Hester, Randolph.
The Meaning of Gardens. MIT Press 1990
Fuchs, Rudy. Richard Long . New York: Thames and Hudson, 1986.
Fundaburk, Emma Lila.
Art in the Environment in the United States: A Book of 600 Photographs of Art in Architectural, Natural, Historic and Modern Settings Across the Nation. Luverne, Ala.: Fundaburk, 1975.
Gablik, Suzi.
Conversations Before the End of Time. New York: T&H, 1995
The Reenchantment of Art. New York: Thames and Hudson, 1991.
Grande, John K.
Balance: Art and Nature. Montreal: Black Rose Books, 1994.
Technology, Intertwining: Landscape Issues, Artists. Montreal and New York: Black Rose Books, 1998.
Art and Nature Dialogues. SUNY 2004
Goldsworthy, Andy.
A Collaboration with Nature. New York: Abrams. Inc, 1990.
Gussow, Alan.
A Sense of Place: The Artist and the American Land. San Francisco: Friends of the Earth, 1972.
Harrison, Helen Mayer and Newton.
The Lagoon Cycle. New York: Cornell, 1995.
The Serpentine Lattice. Oregon: Reed College, 1993.
Henri, Adrian.
Total Art: Environments, Happenings and Performance. New York: Praeger, 1974.
Higuchi, Shoichiro.
Water as Environmental Art: Creating Amenity Space. Tokyo: Kashiwashobo, 1991.
Hodges, Nicola, editor.
Art and the Natural Environment. London: Academy Editions, Ltd., 1994. (Art & Design Profile Series, No. 36).
Holt, Nancy, ed.
The Writings of Robert Smithson. NYU Press, New York 1979
Kaprow, Allan.
Assemblage, Environments & Happenings; NY; H.N. Abrams, 1966.
Kastner, Jeffrey and Wallis, Brian.
Land and Environmental Art. London: Phaidon1998.
Kemal, Salim and Gaskell, Ivan.,
Landscape, Natural Beauty, and the Arts. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1993.
Korp, Maureen.
Sacred Art of the Earth: Ancient and Contemporary Earthworks. New York: Continuum, 1997.
Lacy, Suzanne. 1995.
Mapping the Terrain. Seattle: Bay Press, 1995.
Lippard, Lucy.
The Lure of the Local. New York. The New Press, 1997.
Overlay. New York: Pantheon Books, 1983
Matilsky, Barbara.
Fragile Ecologies. New York: Queens Museum of Art, 1992.
Oakes, Baile, ed.
Sculpting with the Environment. NY: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1995.
Popper, Frank.
Art--Action and Participation. New ¥ork University Press, 1975.
Rudofsky, Bernard.
Architecture Without Architects. Univ. of New Mexico Press, 1964
Ryan, Paul.
Video Mind, Earth Mind: Art, Com. and Ecology. NYC P. Lang, 1993.
Shapiro, Gary.
Earthwards: Robert Smithson and Art After Babel. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995.
Sonfist, Alan, ed.
Art in the Land: A Critical Anthology of Envir. Art. NY: Dutton, 1983.
Spaid, Sue.
Ecovention: Current Art to Transform Ecologies. Cincinatti Contemporary Art Center, 2002.
Stam, Herd.
Crop Art and Other Earthworks. New York: H.N. Abrams, 1994.
Tiberghien, Gilles A.
Land Art. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1995.
Virilio, Paul.
Bunker Archeology. Princeton Architectural Press 1994
Wolff, Janet.
The Social Production of Art. 2nd edition. Washington Square, N.Y. : New York University Press, 1993

Ecology, Feminism and Environmental Ethics
Adams, Carol J.
Ecofeminism and the Sacred. New York: Continuum, 1993.
Crosby, Alfred W.
Ecological Imperialism. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1986.
Cronon, William, ed.
Uncommon Ground: Toward Reinventing Nature. NewYork: W. Norton & Company, 1995.
Flannery, Tim and Schouten, Peter.
A Gap in Nature: Discovering the World’s Extinct Animals. Atlantic Monthly press, 2001
Goldsmith, Bunyard, Hildyard, McCully.
Imperiled Planet – Restoring our Endangered Ecosystems. MIT Press 1990
Hawkin, Paul.
The Ecology of Commerce. New York: HarperCollins, 1993.
McDonough, William & Braungart, Michael,
Cradle to Cradle, North Point Press, 2002; McKibben, Bill. The End of Nature. New York: DoubleDay, 1989.
Merchant, Carolyn.
The Death of Nature: Women, Ecology and the Scientific Revolution. New York: HarperCollins, 1989.
Radical Ecology. New York: Routledge, 1991.
Pestel, Eduard and Mesarovic, Mike.
Mankind at the Turning Point, Dutton, 1974
Ponting, Clive.
A Green History of the World. New York: Penguin Books, 1991.
Postel, Sandra.
Last Oasis: Facing Water Scarcity. New York. W.W. Norton 1995
Ruether, Rosemary Radford.
Gaia & God. New York: HarperCollins, 1992.
Sale, Kirpatrick.
The Conquest of Paradise. New York: Penguin Books, 1990.
Schama, Simon.
Landscape and Memory New York: Vintage Books, 1995
Schweickart, Patrocinio P., ed. "Women Ecology, and the Environment".
NWSA Journal. Vol. 9, No. 3. Indiana: Indiana University Press, 1995.
Shiva, Vandana.
Staying Alive: Women, Ecology and Development. London: Zed Books, 1988.
Biopiracy, The Plunder of Nature and Knowledge. South End Press 1997
Sturgeon, Noel.
Ecofeminist Natures: Race, Gender, Feminist Theory and Political Action. New York: Routledge, 1997
Warren, Karen J.
Feminism and Ecology: Making Connections. Environmental Ethics, Vol. 9, 1987.
Zimmerman, Michael E. "Feminism, Deep Ecology, and Environmental Ethics."
Environmental Ethics, Vol. 9, 1987