Daring, outsized, and literally groundbreaking, artworks such as Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty, Michael Heizer’s City, Walter De Maria’s Desert Cross, Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s Running Fence, and Nancy Holt’s Sun Tunnels have captured the imaginations of people around the world. They have done so, in large part, through the photographs of Gianfranco Gorgoni (1941-2019), who was in the field with the artists while their works were in progress.
Now the Nevada Museum of Art (Reno) is drawing on its uniquely deep and extensive holdings of Gorgoni’s work to present the exhibition Gianfranco Gorgoni: Land Art Photographs, featuring more than fifty of his stunning, large-format images of now-iconic works of Land Art. Organized by Ann M. Wolfe, the Andrea and John C. Deane Family Senior Curator and Deputy Director of the Museum, the exhibition will be on view at the Museum through January 2, 2022. In tandem with the exhibition, the Museum and Monacelli are publishing the book Gianfranco Gorgoni: Land Art Photographs. The large-format, 256-page hardcover book, edited by Ann M. Wolfe, features 150 color and black-and-white images and includes essays by William L. Fox, the Peter E. Pool Director of the Center for Art + Environment, and the late Germano Celant, former curator of the Guggenheim, New York and the Fondazione Prada in Milan. Celant and Gorgoni were longtime friends and colleagues before their untimely passing just before the completion of this project.
In 1969, after meeting legendary New York gallerist Leo Castelli, Gorgoni was invited to travel to the desert, where he began his career of working side-by-side with major figures of the then-incipient Land Art movement. In 2016 he was chosen as the official photographer for Ugo Rondinone’s monumental work Seven Magic Mountains, co-produced by the Nevada Museum of Art and the Art Production Fund. Upon his death, Gorgoni bequeathed hundreds of contact sheets of his Land Art photographs to the Center for Art + Environment of the Nevada Museum of Art. The Museum also owns a full set of Gorgoni’s large-scale Land Art prints, acquired for its Altered Landscape, Carol Franc Buck Collection, the only full set authorized by the artist before his passing.
“Someone once called Gianfranco Gorgoni a roadie, stuntman, and documentarian rolled into one. He was also a visionary artist in his own right and a close friend of the Nevada Museum of Art,” David B. Walker, CEO of the Nevada Museum of Art, said. “We are tremendously proud to be the institution that presents the first comprehensive exhibition of his Land Art photographs and are deeply grateful to the generous supporters, including the Carol Franc Buck Foundation, who have made this possible.”
“Gorgoni used his camera to inventory the creation of some of the most iconic artistic interventions—both ephemeral and monumental—that would come to be known around the world as Land Art. Collectively, Gorgoni’s images have shaped global perspectives on contemporary art practice around the world, and his oeuvre continues to offer a stunning visual definition of first-generation Land Art in the American West,” Wolfe said.
Gianfranco Gorgoni: Land Art Photographs is one of five exhibitions the Museum is presenting in its 2021 Art + Environment Season, Land Art: Past, Present, Futures. The season also encompasses 12 virtual discussions and talks by 23 distinguished speakers (September 23 through November 19) and an outdoor “transformance” by Rose B. Simpson, to be presented in Las Vegas. Subscriptions to the season include the option to receive Season in a Box, a commemorative package that includes the book Gianfranco Gorgoni: Land Art Photographs and the comprehensive 2019 Monacelli book Michael Heizer: The Once and Future Monuments by William L. Fox.
About the Art + Environment Season
Organized under the auspices of the Nevada Museum of Art’s Center for Art + Environment, Land Art: Past, Present, Futures will be presented from September 23 through November 19, 2021, offering multiple new opportunities for a global community of artists, scholars, writers, designers, and art enthusiasts to look at, talk about, and reflect upon our interaction with the natural world and the built environment. In the years since its first presentation in 2008, the A + E Conference has won international recognition as the premier event in its field, held in the state whose terrain has inspired historic and contemporary Land Art interventions from the early monumental works of Michael Heizer and Walter De Maria to the recent sculptures of Ugo Rondinone. The Conference has consistently sparked new scholarship, provoked fresh thinking, and helped forge productive partnerships. For more on the season and to subscribe, visit: nevadaart.org/conference2021.
About Nevada Museum of Art
The Nevada Museum of Art is the only art museum in Nevada accredited by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM). A private, nonprofit organization founded in 1931, the statewide institution is supported by its membership as well as sponsorships, gifts and grants. Through its permanent collections, original exhibitions and programming, and E.L. Cord Museum School, the Nevada Museum of Art provides meaningful opportunities for people to engage with a range of art and education experiences.
The Museum’s Center for Art + Environment is an internationally recognized research center dedicated to supporting the practice, study, and awareness of creative interactions between people and their environments. The Center houses unique archive materials from more than 1,500 artists working on all seven continents, including Cape Farewell, Michael Heizer, Walter de Maria, Lita Albuquerque, Burning Man, the Center for Land Use Interpretation, Great Basin Native Artists Archive, Ugo Rondinone’s Seven Magic Mountains, and Trevor Paglen’s Orbital Reflector. Learn more at nevadaart.org.
The Nevada Museum of Art is located in the Great Basin on the occupied territories of Indigenous people. The state of Nevada consists of 27 federally recognized tribes from four nations: the Numu (Northern Paiute), Newe (Western Shoshone), Wa She Shu (Washoe), and Nuwu (Southern Paiute).