Installation of Richard Long's Quantock Wood Circle, 1981, in the Library Court, Yale Center for British Art, photo by Richard Caspole

Annoucing “Richard Long: Quantock Wood Circle”

NEW HAVEN, CT (September 20, 2022)—Turner Prize–winning artist Richard Long (b. 1945) has been a pioneer of land art since the 1960s, having participated in many of the earliest exhibitions, notably Earth Art, in 1969 at Cornell University, the first American museum exhibition to focus on this new form. On view at the Yale Center for British Art through February 19, 2023, Quantock Wood Circle (1981) consists of 285 weathered and broken pine branches Long collected while walking in the Quantock Hills near his home in Somerset, England. According to the artist's instructions, the sticks are chosen at random and spaced evenly in a haphazard pattern to form a circle on the floor, rendering each display unique. 

Installed in the museum’s light-filled Library Court among picturesque landscapes by Thomas Gainsborough (1727–1788), George Stubbs (1724–1806), and Richard Wilson (1714–1782), the sculpture demonstrates Britain’s centuries-old artistic tradition of imposing order on nature and idealizing the English landscape. With each stick roughly the same size and arranged in an ordered pattern on the floor, the work traverses the line between nature and artifact, exploring the relationship between nature’s free-form beauty and our own mechanistic systems for measuring space and time. When viewed from above, Quantock Wood Circle resembles a map or an aerial plan, its circular shape an archetype associated with perfection, unity, and the infinite.

Since the 1960s, Long has created ephemeral artworks based upon his walks in the English countryside and abroad. The genesis of all his work is the fundamental human act of walking; by pausing to collect materials or create a sculpture, he transforms a walk into a creative practice. Through text, photographs, sculptures, and paintings made from the materials he collects, Long documents the traces of his presence in the land, recording fleeting interactions between humans and nature. In Quantock Wood Circle, materials collected while walking are brought into the museum, raising questions about our relationship with space, place, and nature.

Long participated in the YCBA's 1984 exhibition The Critical Eye/I, curated by John Paoletti. As the first contemporary art exhibition to be held at the museum, The Critical Eye/I showcased the work of six of Britan's most prominent artists and collectives, uniting them by a shared focus on "the ordinary, everyday event" and an "intense recreation of reality." Long produced three site-specific works for the exhibition: a stone line using materials sourced from a local Connecticut quarry as well as two mud circles made with earth from the River Avon in England. Long's meticulous selection and preservation of his materials' original forms complemented the natural patterns and textures of the linen, oak, and travertine marble integral to Louis I. Kahn's design for the museum's galleries. 

About Richard Long

Long was born in 1945 in Bristol, England, where he currently lives and works. He studied at the West of England College of Art and St. Martin’s School of Art, London. With his seminal walking work in 1967, Long has radically redefined the boundaries of sculpture—using nature as both subject and medium—over the course of his fifty-year career. Since his first solo exhibition in 1968, he has had retrospectives at The Guggenheim, New York (1986); Hayward Gallery, London (1991); Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh (2007); and Tate Britain, London (2009). Solo museum shows include Musée d’art moderne de la ville de Paris (1993), Setagaya Art Museum, Tokyo (1996); Museu Serralves, Portugal (2001); Tate St. Ives, Cornwall (2002); San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (2006); Musée d’art moderne et d’art contemporain de Nice (2008); “ARTIST ROOMS” organized by the National Galleries of Scotland and Tate, which traveled to The Hepworth Wakefield in England, among other venues (2012-20); Arnolfini, Bristol (2015); Houghton Hall, Norfolk (2017); De Pont Museum, The Netherlands (2019); and Museum Leuven, Belgium (2021-22). In spring 2023, his work will be included in an exhibition about Saint Francis of Assisi at the National Gallery, London, as well as an exhibition at the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. Long created the work Box Hill Road River for the cycling road race in Surrey as part of the 2012 Olympics. Long was awarded the Turner Prize in 1989, Japan’s Praemium Imperiale Art Award in 2009, and the Whitechapel Art Icon Award in 2015.

Related Programs

Works on the Floor Symposium
December 16, 2022

With its material connection to the English natural landscape, Quantock Wood Circle and its installation at the YCBA provoke questions about the piece’s relationship with Britain as a geographic landmass and a nation. The Works on the Floor symposium will look at floor sculpture by artists from around the world, investigating how land- and place-based identity play out through the materials, composition, and display of the objects.