Site Specific Installation Artists

Site Specific Installation Artists

As part of the process of creating my own site specific installation, I have spent some time researching installation artists. Some of the more famous artists that you may already recognise include Dan Flavin, George Segal, Antony Gormley, Christo and Jeanne-Claude, and Claes Oldenburg. However, there are many artists that create and develop artwork in response to a specific site. In this post I share some installation pieces that I felt responded particularly effectively to the chosen site and/or theme.

Dan FlavinSite Specific Installation (1996)

  • Site: Richmond Hall, the Menial Collection, Houston, USA
  • Originally built as a grocery store, Richmond Hall went on to accommodate a series of dance clubs and bars
  • Responded with three installations, located on both the exterior and interior of the building
  • Used fluorescent light tubes in a range of colours, perhaps referencing the hall’s past life as a party venue for dancing and drinking
  • Biggest artwork is in the building’s interior and consists of a repeating pattern of pink, yellow, green, and blue lights (shown below)
  • The reflection of the lights on the ceiling and floor emphasise the 3D form of the space and the glow makes me think about how the space was used for partying and how lights would have reflected and bounced around as people enjoyed themselves. The light interacts with the space and ‘paints’ the surfaces of the hall
  • The lights remind me of fairgrounds and carnivals – these are a stark contrast to the cavernous, white, empty space, which seems more like a cathedral or meditative space. This contrast highlights the contrast in the building’s uses: once a dance and drinking venue and now a modern art gallery
Dan Flavin: Site Specific Installation (1996)

Dan Flavin: Site Specific Installation (1996). Photo found at https://www.menil.org/campus/dan-flavin-installation

Antony Gormley: Grip (2014)

  • Part of a series of five installation sculptures called LAND, created to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Landmark Trust
  • LAND was a temporary installation, available to view in situ from 2014 to May 2016, and each piece responded directly to its specific location
  • Gormley is quoted as saying:”The Landmark Trust’s 50th anniversary is an occasion to think and feel the nature of our species, its history and future, and its relationship to the huge biodiversity of living beings that exist on the surface of this extraordinary blue planet” (read more here)
  • Grip is installed in Saddell Bay, Scotland
  • There’s a short Youtube video available with Gormley here. Gormley explains that his figure is installed to “face the potential infinity of the horizon” and the theme that runs through LAND is climate change and the “inevitability of sea rise”
  • The five figures are connected by water
  • The figures are fashioned to look like assembled rocks, and because they are made of cast iron the seawater will rust and age the surface, meaning the installation interacts directly with its environment. The colour and texture of the installation pieces also reflect the natural forms found around them, as you can see in the image below
Gormley Grip (2014)

Antony Gormley. GRIP (2014). 189 x 38 x 48 cm. Cast iron. Installation view: Saddell Bay, Mull of Kintyre, Scotland, 2015. Photograph by Clare Richardson.

Christo and Jeanne-Claude: Umbrellas (1991)

  • Christo and Jeanne-Claude worked on this project from 1984 to 1991, when it was installed for 18 days
  • It was a temporary installation made of aluminium, steel, fabric and wood
  • Umbrellas was installed in both Japan and the USA simultaneously to compare and contrast how two inland valleys were used in different countries. This dual installation effectively highlighted the differences and similarities between the sites by using the same form (the umbrella) but adapting the colour and arrangement to reflect the specific sites
  • In Japan, the umbrellas were installed in close proximity to each other to reflect the limited space available in the small country of Japan and reflected the geometry of the rice fields and the association with water through the colour blue. Using the colour blue could also be a comment on the wetter climate as well as the river
  • In California the umbrellas were installed to reflect the huge swathes of uncultivated land by being placed in a random and widely-spaced manner. The umbrellas installed here were yellow to reflect the dry landscape and the native golden grasses. Yellow is also the colour associated with sunshine
  • The umbrella was a strong symbol to choose as it is globally recognisable and understood as something that provides shelter, whether from the rain or sunshine
  • This artwork became notorious when one of the 485-pound umbrellas toppled over and killed a woman in California. Some people have referred to this piece of installation art as ‘Christo’s killer umbrellas’. You can read an article in the New York Times about this incident here
Christo abd Jeanne-Claude, Umbrellas, 1991

Christo and Jeanne-Claude. The Umbrellas (1984-91) Japan-USA. Photo: Wolfgang Volz (available at http://christojeanneclaude.net/projects/the-umbrellas#.V5nbUldRn6t)

 

Further resources and interesting links:

For more information about Dan Flavin: the art story

Antony Gormley’s website: antonygormley.com

Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s website: christojeanneclaude.net

You can read more about Umbrellas here

The Landmark Trust: landmarktrust.org.uk

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