Wasteland Aesthetics: Art and the Postindustrial Landscape, 1962-1972


Luce/ACLS Dissertation Fellowships in American Art


Department of Art History


Several vanguard artists in the United States turned from the interior architectures of the studio and gallery toward material landscapes during the 1960s and early 1970s, engaging outdoor spaces as a critical medium and testing ground. Specifically, many were attracted to “wastelands,” those landscapes that were actually or perceived to be ruined or contaminated. Although art historians have often collapsed landscape-based art from this period into the categories of “land art” or “environmental art,” this dissertation foregrounds the actual sites where such projects were staged and draws together performance artists, post-minimalists, conceptual photographers, ecological artists, and others in order to examine the new ways that artists came to know and work with the land at this time.