In identifying Environmental Art, a crucial distinction lies between environmental artists who do not consider the damage to the environment their artwork may incur, and those who intend to cause no harm to nature. Indeed, their work might involve restoring the immediate landscape to a natural state. For example one work I have previously made reference to, despite its aesthetic merits, Robert Smithson’s sculpture “Spiral Jetty” involved inflicting considerable permanent damage upon the landscape he worked with. Smithson, using a bulldozer to scrape and cut the land, impinged upon the lake. At the same time this Environmental Art also raised awareness of the importance in recycling materials.

Indeed, such criticism was raised against the European sculptor Christo, when he temporarily wrapped the coastline at Little Bay, south of Sydney, Australia, in 1969. Local conservationists staged a protest, arguing that the work was ecologically irresponsible and adversely affecting the local environment, especially the birds that nested in the wrapped cliffs.

Complaints were only heightened when several penguins and a seal became trapped under the fabric and were cut out. Conservationists’ comments attracted international attention in environmental circles, and lead contemporary artists in the region to re-think the inclinations of Land art and Site-specific art.

In comparison, a committed Environmental artist such as the British sculptor Richard Long, has for several decades made temporary outdoor sculptural work by rearranging natural materials found on the site, such as rocks, mud and branches, and which will therefore have no lingering detrimental affect. Crop Artist Stan Herd [8] shows similar connection with and respect for the land. While leading Environmental artists such as the Dutch sculptor Herman de rVies and Andy Goldsworthy, mentioned above, similarly leave the landscape they have worked with unharmed, and in some cases have in the process of making their work regenerated with appropriate indigenous flora land that had been damaged by human use. In this way the work of art arises out of sensitivity towards habitat.

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