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De Maria, Walter Joseph

De Maria, Walter Joseph, 1935–2013, American sculptor, b. Albany, Calif. From the late 1950s into the 60s De Maria partcipated in Happenings, created Dada-influenced minimalist sculptures, and began making drawings for works of land art . From the 1970s on he created works with multiple elements arranged to form complicated geometric patterns on the floor and a number of massive site-specific pieces that are his best-known works. The most famous of these is The Lightning Field (1977), a grid of 400 stainless steel poles 220 ft (67 m) apart and covering an area 1 km by 1 mi (.6 mi by 1.6 km) in a remote part of the New Mexico desert. His other works include Earth Room, a loft filled with a 22-in (56-cm) layer of dark soil, juxtaposing nature with urban life; first made in Munich (1968), it was recreated in New York City (1977, 1980). Characteristic of his floor pieces is The Broken Kilometer (1979)—500 2-m-long (6.56-ft) brass rods arranged in rows. A later floor piece is The 2000 Sculpture (1992), 2,000 white plaster rods arranged in a herringbone pattern.

See J. C. Cooper et al., Walter De Maria: Two Very Large Presentations (1990); K. Baker, Thoughts from the Lightning Field (2007) and The Lightning Field (2008); J. Helfenstein and C. Elliott, ed., Walter De Maria: Trilogies (2012).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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