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).

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