PRINT May 1981

Labyrinths: Tradition and Contemporary Works

SINCE THE LATE 1960s an astonishing number of artists, especially in the U.S. and England, have dealt with the concept of the labyrinth.1 These artistic formulations have been followed by attempts at scientific reconstruction through exhibitions2 and essays.3 These tentative starts remain unsatisfactory because, among other reasons, the authors possessed no clear concept of the labyrinth4 and no overall view of the labyrinth symbol’s different manifestations in its 5000-year history. But such knowledge is necessary since we are not, after all, being confronted with original, new creations in contemporary labyrinth works, but rather. with the more or less conscious, more or less creative continuation of ancient tradition. The recent work can be understood and assessed only against the background of that tradition.

In referring to the labyrinth as symbol, and in referring to its history, I have addressed a problem that is crucial not only for the authors and artists concerned, but also for contemporary art in general: the relation of artistic innovation and communication to the linguistic functions of the work of art. Beginning with the earliest roots of modernism, since Cézanne at the latest, artists have been judged more or less favorably according to the degree of innovation in their work; that is to say, judged according to the scope and significance of their newly formulated perceptions. Thus, an artist5 is considered important if his or her work allows for expansion, for the construction of new areas of reality through a new visual vocabulary, a new visual syntax. The more radically the artist accomplishes this, the less understandable the work—until the audience has learned the new language. On the other hand, whenever artists revert to traditional symbols, they can be understood immediately, but they tread within the domain of anonymous, generalized visual language, and the question of authorship and personal merit—so important in the contemporary art scene—is raised to no greater extent than in the case of a folk song or fairy tale. This fact appears to be a major problem in contemporary approaches to primary symbols, and to cultural tradition in general. To return to the topic under scrutiny here, it seems to me that the expressive power of the labyrinth far exceeds the formulative faculty of most artists.

Clearly, I have anticipated a conclusion, and owe the reader some substantiation for it. I will therefore first take up the question of what, exactly, a labyrinth is.6 References to certain historical manifestations will follow this definition, to facilitate understanding of contemporary formulations, which will then be discussed. It goes without saying that within the constraints of this format I cannot go into elaborate historical detail.7

In current usage, the word “labyrinth” has three different meanings:

1. Metaphor: Used to refer to a difficult, complex or confusing situation. The concept of the labyrinth was used in this figurative, proverbial sense in the languages of antiquity as early as the 4th century B.C.; it can be traced back to the concept of the . . .

2. Maze: Many reports in antiquity about labyrinths provide a basis for this concept of the labyrinth (a system of tangled paths) as a literary motif. The visitor to this kind of structure (building or garden) has a choice of many paths that can subsequently lead into blind alleys and confusion. The earliest visual formulation of a maze is not to be found until 1550 A.D.8 In remarkable contrast to the widespread literary evidence in antiquity and the Middle Ages, all visual representations of labyrinths until the time of Mannerism show but a single path—that is, they offer no possibility of confusion. The present discussion is devoted to this visual formulation, to the . . .

3. Labyrinth in the true sense of the word: In literature this visually unequivocal term has had the concept of “maze” superimposed on it since antiquity. The two concepts, extremely different in form and content, have been thus intermingled, and not until the 20th century has there been an attempt to untangle the conceptual confusion.

The labyrinth as graphic, linear figure can best be formally defined as a geometric figure, with a round or rectangular external border, that makes sense only when regarded as an architectural plan, from above. In so doing, the observer would interpret the lines as boundary walls and the strip left open between them as a path (in mythology, Ariadne’s thread). The walls themselves are not essential; their function is only to outline the path, to determine choreographically the pattern of movement. Movement begins at a small opening in the outer wall and proceeds, after many detours that entail traversing the entire inner space, to the center. In contrast to the maze, the labyrinth path has no intersections and offers no possibility of choice; it therefore leads inevitably to the center, and ends there. The only blind alley in a labyrinth thus lies at its center. There, visitors must reverse their walking direction and can return to the outside only if they turn around and retrace, as their exit path, the path by which they entered.

This concept, demonstrable in the Mediterranean area since the Third Millennium B.C. (and also found later elsewhere in Europe; in India, Java and Sumatra; and in the southwestern part of the U.S. among the Hopi, Pueblo, Navaho, Pima and Papago), has been expressed in three forms:

1. As dance figuration—a fixed element of group choreography whereby a chain of dancers whose individual members, holding hands or grasping a rope (Ariadne’s thread), proceed through the windings of the labyrinth. I am convinced that the renowned labyrinth of Crete was nothing other than Ariadne’s ingenious dancing place, described by Homer in the Iliad, chapter 18; its labyrinthine walls and paths could well have been inlaid in the (marble) floor.

2. As literary tradition.9

3. As visual formulation—the subject of this essay.

The labyrinth is probably the most perfect embodiment of the initiation process. An inner space is isolated from its surroundings by a separating wall that runs all around it. There is only a single, small entrance. The inner space is visible on the plan, but at first glance it seems terrifyingly complex. Understanding the configuration and making the decision to enter requires a certain degree of maturity. Physical discipline and social adaptability (for the group dance) are also needed to master the complexity of the movement pattern. Beyond the entrance, the “detour principle” begins. The available inner space is filled with the greatest possible number of paths, thus maximizing the time lost and the physical strain endured on the way to the goal. There is, as well, psychic stress involved in the recognition that one approaches within striking distance of the goal over and over again, only to be led away from it. The path to the center leaves no choice; anyone who can withstand the strain inevitably reaches the center. The experience is thus based on rules, and is not hinged upon the subjective or the arbitrary. Alone at the center each person encounters himself or herself, a divine principle, a Minotaur, or whatever else the “center” may stand for.

The center signifies the place and opportunity for a perception so fundamental that it demands a basic change in direction. To get out of the labyrinth, one must first turn around, and then return along the very path by which one entered. A change in direction of 180° means the greatest possible disassociation from the past. This is not just a negation, or the cancellation of the inward path. Such an interpretation would be adequate only if one could perceive the way out from the same orientation as one perceived the way in. The crucial experience, however, occurs in between. Turning around at the center not only means abandoning a previous existence, but also it means making a new beginning. Anyone leaving the labyrinth leaves it not as the old Adam, but as a being reborn in a new existence (phase, level). Death and rebirth occur at the center, and symbolize the transition from one form of existence to another (higher) one.

One of the most important transition rites10 is initiation, the “entirety of rites and oral instructions, intended to change basically the religious and social life of the person waiting for initiation.”11 The principal instances of initiation are puberty rites, which give access to a certain age/class, to the ranks of sexually mature, socially responsible adults. Initiations also give admission to secret societies, and take place prior to the consecration of priests or to the enthronement of monarchs. Elements of initiation have been retained in Christian baptism, but without the ordeals that would determine if the novice is equal to the requirements of the new status. Death, as symbolized in the ritual, means the end of a previous existence: the novice is reborn in a new form of being.

The death and rebirth aspect of the labyrinth concept is also evident in the swing of the pendulum—the constant change in direction from left (against the supposed solar movement, i.e., death) to right (with the sun, i.e., life). Anyone entering the labyrinth is enclosed, isolated, shut off from previous surroundings—in a sense, dead. The path away from the previous existence, into confinement, signifies the path toward death. It is no accident that the earliest examples of labyrinths—rock drawings from the Bronze Age—are to be found in a grave (Luzzanas, Sardinia), and in connection with mining (Tintagel, England and Galicia, Spain). In all these the subjects must tread the dangerous way back to the bosom of Mother Earth. Return to the womb, regression to embryo, re-emergence through narrow passages, through the narrow portal: such birth symbolism is implicit in the very form and narrowness of the passage. This is not an arbitrary association—it is clear that in India the labyrinth is supposed, magically, to facilitate birth, and that in the U.S. among the Hopi it symbolizes birth and rebirth.

Initiation signifies symbolic death and rebirth. But even actual physiological death can be understood as a transformation, as a transition to a new existence. The way into the labyrinth represents the path to the underworld, whereby the return to Mother Earth is combined with the hope for rebirth. The way inward, into the labyrinth, then also means the way downward, into the viscera terrae. In this duality, I see one of the ways in which ideas from cave cults might have been transmitted to the idea of the labyrinth. Considering this close relationship to both death and rebirth, it seems only plausible that the Trojan game—of Etruscan-Roman culture—of moving on horseback in a labyrinthine pattern was celebrated on two kinds of occasions: at the founding (birth) of a city, and at funeral ceremonies.12 Also in support of this is the purported depiction by Daedalus of a labyrinth on the portal of the Temple of Apollo at Cumae,13 where the huge grotto, the abyss and genital cleft of Mother Earth, revealed the entrance to Hades. Thus, if the labyrinth stands as symbol for death and rebirth, this must mean that we should expect the labyrinth concept to occur only in cultures that hope for life after death.

Reference has already been made to the fact that, according to Vergil, the Trojan game with its labyrinthine riding tracks was celebrated when cities were founded—to be more precise, when their walls were erected. Here, too, an interior space is meticulously separated from its surroundings; here, too, a kind of “birth” is involved, that of a community. The process of delineation, self-recognition, and self-definition is no longer restricted to the individual but pertains to the community as well. When the labyrinth figure was performed by equestrians upon completion of the walls, the defensive function of those walls was supposedly then strengthened with magic. The importance of this concept to the Romans can be deduced from the fact that almost all Roman mosaics of labyrinths show, in various decorative depictions of the Trojan game, a fortified city. In addition, these mosaics were often placed in the vicinity of house entrances to ward off evil influences. This kind of protective magic is found again in the placement of labyrinths near the west portals of northern French cathedrals, in Indian threshold drawings, as amulets, as an order of battle (cakra vyūha) and as tattooing patterns. Hildburgh is certainly right, then, when he refers to the labyrinth as “one of the oldest apotropaic symbols.”14 At its root is the notion that evil spirits can fly only straight ahead and cannot find their way through the windings of a labyrinth, implying that an attacker would be confused, fatigued, deceived, and diverted by the complexity. This idea seems subsequently to have influenced the Italian architects Filarete (ca. 1400–ca. 1469) and Francesco de ’Marchi (1599), who proposed the building of fortifications on the ground plan of a labyrinth. The figure of an enclosing prison, cited even earlier by Plutarch,15 corresponds to this positive protective action, and it is to be found again in the “fortress” of the demon prince Ravana who imprisons Sītā, wife of the Indian god Rama within this labyrinth. In a metaphoric sense, we also find this idea in the use of the labyrinth as a secretive device, whereby strategy remains concealed in a person’s breast, just as the Minotaur is hidden in the labyrinth.

Seen in this framework, the “City/Labyrinth” motif appears to be but a special case of the general protective magic of the labyrinth. However, judging from the Roman mosaics and medieval Jericho labyrinths, the labyrinth becomes the symbol for the “city” itself, implying far more than simply protection. In Roman pagan times the labyrinth was identified with Troy, the archetypal city; in Judaic tradition it is identified with the archetypal city of Jericho. The remarkable circumstances of Joshua’s conquest of Jericho,16 and the reinterpretation of this tradition in late antique Judaic-Syriac thought, make it possible to conclude that the labyrinthine movement was understood as potentially harmful magic. A late reference to this antique notion of the city occurred in the 13th century, when the Arabic geographer Al-Qazwīnī asserted that the city of Constantinople once had a labyrinth as its ground plan. When it is also remembered that the four sectors of Roman mosaic labyrinths correspond to the Roma quadrata, that the city, as sacred territory, represents an image of the world, then a cosmological perspective opens up not only for the city/labyrinth, but for the figure of the labyrinth in general.

In the 9th and 10th centuries the pagan labyrinth figure was adopted by Christianity in various phases, as can be seen in numerous manuscript representations. At the conclusion of this development there is a pathway, which I will call the “Chartres” type after its most beautiful example. This labyrinth formation is found not only on the floor of the central nave of the cathedral of Chartres, but in numerous other Gothic churches in Italy and Northern France; and in England it was cut into lawns. Instead of the seven windings of the Cretan type, there are now 11, a number that, according to medieval numeric symbolism, refers to “sin.”17 Its orientation—the entrance is always on the west, facing the sunset (death)—also shows the significance of the labyrinth as the image of a sinful, God-alienated world. The cross, of axes and semi-axes laid over concentric circles, symbolizes the Christian hope for salvation. Accordingly, the path through the labyrinth can be understood as a path through the sinful world toward salvation. There are numerous emblems that have this meaning, including the notable micrographic drawing by H.R. Seyrl. The labyrinth also became the symbol for private and public dilemmas, the “Love Labyrinths” alluding to erotic involvements, and the “Labyrinth of Alchemy” referring to the perils of the “Great Work” of alchemical transmutation.

So much for historical evidence. When one looks at the contemporary situation, it is astonishing how strong the interest still is in a concept that one could assume had, in the course of millennia, been exhaustively explored. On the contrary, this labyrinth concept continues to proliferate, and the interest it holds for artists has, as usual, only anticipated the attention of a broader public. There are probably numerous reasons for this phenomenon. The labyrinth is surrounded by an aura of the mysterious and has probably been carried along by the interest in the occult with its rising flood of publications on all possible (and impossible) “secrets” and “mysteries.”18 Interest in ancient cultures in general has also increased, as is demonstrated by (among other things) the unbelievable success of large-scale cultural exhibitions. One can also recognize in this a criticism by the public of current conditions, a turning away from thoroughly rationalized life structures, in which human existence disintegrates into thousands of separate categories. At any rate, I see in this preoccupation with the labyrinth a great yearning for sense-enhancing unity; the labyrinthine way is seen as the way of individuation, as regeneration, as sense-enhancement through unification and concentration.

Assessing contemporary production is not easy. One generalization can be made right away—that most of the works, except those of Ugo Dossi and Terry Fox, have a pronounced referential character. The observer is confronted with a formulation that is familiar, in this or in a similar form. Appeal is made initially to historical awareness, to the pleasure of erudition and recognition, to interest in the meanings conveyed by the labyrinth concept. This is a positive mode of reception, but one that does not have very much to do with art—that is, with creative visual thinking. By contrast, anyone interested in the artistic aspect of the work will look for specific differences: How does this contemporary formulation differ from older ones? In what way is it contemporary? Which current questions and experiences have contributed to the result? To what extent do artists have the right to call labyrinth works their own?

We are living in an era of Alexandrian learning. one with almost unrestricted access to even the most remote sources. Artists, too, make use of this cultural inheritance, but, naturally, they achieve their own results.

Some works show at first glance that they are nothing but reproductions or, at best, expanded older works. Their intellectual nutritive value is correspondingly low, and it is even doubtful that they are original works—as defined by contemporary art ideas—at all. When Richard Long, whom I otherwise esteem, lays out a stone labyrinth like Connemara Sculpture, 1971, that corresponds, stone for stone, to the “Troy Town” on St. Agnes,20 he has not made a work of art, but of craft.21 Hundreds of such “Troy Towns”—that is, labyrinths made of fist-to-head-sized stones set down side by side—can be found to this day in the Baltic region, particularly on the coasts of Scandinavia. They can be traced back to the late Middle Ages, though typologically they may reach as far back as the Bronze Age, or possibly even the Neolithic period.

In the case of Joe Tilson the dependence on prototypes is not quite as great, but his numerous labyrinth works also adhere to older formulations.22 But he translates them into wooden reliefs or paintings that recall Jasper Johns’ palette, and sometimes also that of Frank Stella. Tilson has been involved with alchemy and Oriental philosophy since 1970, and was inspired to make his labyrinth works by visits to Chartres and to Crete, where he made the association of labyrinth and cave23 (hence his reference to “EARTH”).

Robert Morris does not present any invention of his own either, but rather a composite of older originals. His labyrinth construction of 197424 is nothing more than a church labyrinth of the (modified) Chartres type, in which the walls have been elevated to the third dimension, as was proposed by Maso Finiguerra around 146025 and by the Master of the Cassoni Campana around 1500. Inevitably the visitor has a feeling of isolation, a feeling of being imprisoned; associations also can be made with Bruce Nauman, who as early as 1970–71 created the impressive “Corridor Pieces.”26

Three-dimensional, large labyrinths or mazes, as kinetic experiences for the visitor, have been realized or proposed by Alice Aycock,27 Haral Oroschakoff, Richard Fleischner28 and John Willenbecher; of these, Willenbecher29 has advanced farthest toward a new formal solution.

So much for the composite paraphrases and variations on an old theme. With Dennis Oppenheim there is a new aspect. He, too, adheres to an established type; namely, to the scheme of a laboratory maze,30 whereby the faculty for orientation and learning ability of animals or humans can be examined. In the artist’s words:

I congealed this notion of trenches by constructing a maze with hay bales on a country field. I took a very basic laboratory structure from a psychology text, repeated it with hay bales, and magnified it incredibly—I think it was 500'x1000'. Instead of using mice, I used cattle. My interest was in systems, employing in this case cattle, because this maze would function almost as a laboratory set up on a grandiose scale. The interesting thing was that the structure—a very definite series of connecting lines and shapes—like a drawing—would be partially internalized by cattle. The food source, corn, was contained in one area. The cows stampeded through the maze in search of it. In solving the maze they learned it. They digested the information that they were housed in essentially.31

The enlargement of this scheme to dimensions of around 500 feet by 1000 feet is as minor a creative gesture as is the use of cattle instead of mice as test objects. What is interesting, however, is the concept that energy-flows motivate this experimental arrangement:

. . . My concern was the distribution of energy. I was dealing with the notion of energy in a sculptural sense—the distribution of energy and time in Maze, when in fact the real work was that other thing. It was a kind of camouflage.

Patrick Ireland32 calls the work that is illustrated here Labyrinth. In reality, though, it is neither a labyrinth nor a maze, but his use of a mirror connects the work to fun-house mirror labyrinths.

Ugo Dossi, who lives in Munich and Milan, proceeds from a completely different notion of the labyrinth. He is interested in systems of conceptual association within the stream of consciousness. He is concerned with compartmentalization, with the network-forming structures of association, which he concretized in 1975 in a work involving 190 separate sheets,33 a “garden of paths, which branch off.”34 This concept of the labyrinth as combination-game is first found in late antiquity, and later with particular clarity in the “Metric Labyrinth” of the 17th century. This kind of labyrinth is close in concept to the improvisatory music of John Cage. It does not appear to me to be conclusively formulated.

The labyrinth works of Terry Fox are also happily unconventional, a successful conversion of old structures. In 1972–1978 he worked almost exclusively with the Chartres-type model, which he made the point of departure for a great variety of works.35 He did not restrict himself by assuming and reproducing a finished structure, but rather broke it down into components—11 circular passages, 34 turning points, 552 steps—that he incorporated as characteristics into his formally varied works. His labyrinth became a musical score, through which he did justice to the implied movement of the figure and to its choreographic function, setting up a new basis for discussion. Fox describes his procedure as follows:

While in Europe in 1972, he adopted the design of the Labyrinth of the Cathedral of Chartres as the blueprint for all objects and drawings and most performances and sound work from 1972–1978. In 1978 he finished this series of work by placing a labyrinth cut in stone in the pavement of a public square, the “Podio del Mondo, per L’arte,” in Middleberg, Holland. This stone was placed with the aid of a local dowser who found the exact spot for it over subterranean moving water, like the actual labyrinth at Chartres. All the objects made in this period concerning the labyrinth are in the collection of the University Art Museum in Berkeley.

. . . Two sound works based specifically on the configuration of the labyrinth were “The labyrinth scored for the purrs of 11 cats” and “552 steps through 11 pairs of strings,” both from 1976. For the former Fox recorded 8 continuous minutes of purring from 11 different cats. These were then mixed to follow the exact path of the labyrinth, by allowing 10 seconds of time to represent each of the 552 steps into the labyrinth, with one cat representing each of the 11 concentric rings and 10 seconds of overlapping purrs to represent the 34 turns. The tape follows in stereo the path of the labyrinth with the center represented by the simultaneous purring of all 11 cats. This 90 minute tape was produced in New York at Z.B.S. The other work, “552 steps through 11 pairs of strings” was a performance in the artist’s loft in San Francisco in which he stretched 11 pairs of piano wire of 11 different thicknesses across the wooden floor of his studio. These were anchored by turnbuckles for tuning and stretched over wooden bridges. The whole took the shape of a giant harp with the longest pair of strings being 34 feet and the shortest 3 feet. These pairs of wires represented the 11 concentric rings of the labyrinth and were played with a mallet in one hand, and a score in the other. The score was a 34 foot string tied with 552 knots, each knot representing an actual step in the labyrinth with the 34 turns indicated by either a piece of wire on a knot (meaning a move to the next longer pair of strings) or a rubber band around a knot (a move to the next shorter pair). This 41/2-hour performance was done with the audience in the dark loft below, the sound coming in waves from their ceiling which was also Fox’s floor.36

With respect to his labyrinth object, Fox states:

In order to grasp the object, you need to make a few visual adjustments. Imagine the lower stool to be half embedded in the earth and pretend an underground river flows along the floor and through the center of the stool. A well rises from the river along the string to ground level, half way up the stool. This well is covered by a dolmen made of large stones. Its vertical stone walls support a single massive stone as roof, under such tremendous pressure that it is taut and resonant. This dolmen is in turn covered by an enormous mound of earth whose apex lies under the object at the center of the string. On top of this mound is a huge stone bell, the Cathedral of Chartres, whose vault reaches to the seat of the top stool. The string connects the vault with the water table of the underground river. In the center of the string, exactly 37 meters from the top of the vault and 37 meters from the water table of the well, is the labyrinth. This labyrinth is connected by the string to the powerful currents both in the underground river and in the atmosphere surrounding the roof of the cathedral. These currents pass as vibrations along the string from both ends to the center of the labyrinth. The labyrinth is 40 feet in diameter with a path of blue and white stones leading 300 yards into the center and back. This course flows in 34 turns through eleven concentric rings for 552 steps and leads to a large white stone in the center. There is a piton connected to a metal ring embedded in the first step of the labyrinth, and a red Maltese cross is painted on the vault above. Movement through the labyrinth forms a pattern in the air tracing a beautiful triptych of interconnecting crosses.37

To conclude these observations, I have some information for all my jogging friends about the history of their important movement, a history that remains to be written. In the 19th century there was “labyrinth jogging.” There really is nothing new under the sun.

Dr. Hermann Kern, director of the Kunstraum München, has organized numerous exhibitions on international avant-garde art and cultural history. For the past five years he has been working on an exhibition of “Labyrinths,” which will open in June, 1981, in the Palazzo della Permanente in Milan.

This article was translated from the German by Malcolm G. Leybourne.



1. I am familiar with labyrinth works by 25 artists and three maze designers.

2. “Labyrinth: Symbol and Meaning in Contemporary Art,” Watson Gallery, Wheaton College, Norton, Mass., Sept 4–October 1975; subsequently shown at the Philadelphia College of Art, accompanied by a 32-page catalogue no illustrations, text by Ronald J. Onorato and Alice T. Friedman “Doolhoven en Labyrinth,” Kultureel Sentrum Tilburg. Netherlands, Sept 9–Oct 4. 1978 (short catalogue with anonymous text). The excellent exhibition, “Labyrinths,” Berlin/Baden-Baden/Nürnberg, 1966–1967, does not belong to this context since it did not address contemporary labyrinths, as is clear from the subtitle, “Fantastic Art from the 16th century up to the present” (104 page catalogue, numerous illustrations, text by Eberhard Roters and Heinz Ladendorf)

3. Ronald J. Onorato, “The Modern Maze,” Art International, Vol. XX. No 4-5, April May 1976 pp 21–25 (text from the Catalogue of Wheaton College, 1975, somewhat supplemented). Janet Kardon, “Janet Kardon interviews some Modern Maze-Makers, ibid., pp. 64–68 The essay by Walter Gaudnek. ”Polymorphism in Painting through the Use of a Labyrinth,“ in Leonardo, Vol. 3, 1970, pp. 149–158, refers only to the artistic experiences of the author and uses the term ”labyrinth" only in a metaphorical and informal manner, not in the strict and literal sense required here.

4. As seen in the works of among others, such artists as Will Insley, Tony Smith and Charles Simonds, who have not created labyrinths, but have made various complex structures—a fact that does not lustily the designation “labyrinth.”

5. At this point, I would like to leave the question open as to whether or not this frequently used epithet is not too one-sided.

6. Anyone interested in further information should refer to my comprehensive “Manual of Labyrinths” which will appear first in Italian in May 1981, in a slightly abbreviated version, as the catalogue for the “Labyrinth” exhibition organized by me for the City of Milan (“Labirinti,” approx 500 pp., 550 illustrations, Milan: Feltrinelli). The German edition, with approximately 600 illustrations will appear in 1981 or 1982 and the English edition, to be published by Thames and Hudson, London, will appear later. The Milan Labyrinth Exhibition, June 12–July 31. 1981, Palazzo delia Permanente, is in two parts the documentary cultural-historical exhibition was prepared by me; Achille Bonito Oliva and Duccio Berti, are responsible for the exhibition of contemporary art, which will have its own catalogue, also to be published by Feltrinelli. Both exhibitions will later travel

7. The following summary works on the labyrinth should be mentioned Ernst Krause, Die Trojaburgen Nordeuropas, Glogau, 1893; W.H. Matthews, Mazes and Labyrinths: Their History and Development, London, 1922 (reprint, New York Dover, 1970); Paolo Santarcangeli, Il Libro der Labirinti, Florence, 1967, and finally the picture volume by Janet Bord, Mazes and Labyrinths of the World, London, 1976. In the bibliography for my “manual” I have listed more than 2000 pertinent titles.

8. A drawing of a maze by the so-called Master of the Sketchbook of Mantua, formerly attributed to Marten Van Heemskerk, from the plan for the Palazzo del Té, Mantua, designed by Giulio Romano and built for the Gonzago family, 1525–34 Berliner Kupferstichkabinett, 79D 2A, fol. 23v.

9. There is a chapter by Paolo Santarcangeli still unpublished, that serves as an addendum to his book on the literary-metaphorical labyrinth tradition. Of particular interest is the unpublished Master’s thesis (Paris, 1974–75) by Jean-Didier Wagneur, entitled “Variations sur le labyrinthe: Franz Kafka; Jorge Luis Borges; Alain Robbe-Grillet.”

10. Arnold van Gennep, The Rites of Passage, 3rd ed., London, 1977.

11. Mircea Eliade, Das Mysterium der Wiedergeburt: Initiationsriten, ihre kulturelle und religiöse Bedeutung, Zurich/Stuttgart, 1961, p. 10.

12. Vergil, Aeneid, V, 545–605

13. Vergil, Aeneid, VI, 27.

14. Walter Leo Hildburgh, “Indeterminability and Confusion as Apotropaic Elements in Italy and Spain,” Folk-Lore, Vol. 55, 1944, pp. 133–149 145). “The Place of Confusion and Indeterminability in Mazes and Maze-dances,” ibid., Vol. 56, 1945, pp. 188–192 (p. 191).

15. Plutarch, _Life of Theseus, 16, as citation after Philochoros.

16. Six processions around the city of Jericho on six successive days, seven processions on the seventh day, as black magic, destructive ritual, all leading up to the collapse of the walls; cf. Book of Joshua, Chapter 6.

17. The number 11 signifies, on the one hand, trespass and intemperance, since it goes beyond the ten numbers of the Commandments; on the other, imperfection, since it does not reach the number 12 of the apostles, see, among others, Hincmar of Reims, “de praedestinatione dissertatir posterior,” 34, Migne, Patrologia Latina, Vol. 125, Sp. 351 ff; Joseph Sauer, Symbolik des Kirchengebäudes und seiner Ausstattung in der Auftassung des Mittelalters, 2nd ed. Freiburg/Br., 1924 (reprint Münster, 1964), pp. 81 ff.

18. Symptomatic of this is the journalistic book by Paul de Saint-Hilaire Le mystère des labyrinthes, Brussels/Paris, 1977.

19. I took a position in a lecture (July 1980) at the Academy of Fine Arts, Munich, “Contemporary Art as Source and Assignment of Art Theory,” concerning the chances and dangers of such an attitude for contemporary art, and also on the possibility of a re-evaluation of art history through new artistic production. This was published in Neue Kunst in München, No. 3, September/October, 1980.

20. St. Agnes, Scilly Islands. The complex is not old, it was built as a hobby by T.A. Clarke, the son of a lighthouse keeper, in 1729; see R Morton Nance, “Troy Town,” Journal of the Royal Institution of Cornwall, No. 71, 1924, pp. 261–279 (p. 265).

21. In the catalogue Richard Long, Eindhoven: Stedelijk Museum, 1979, can be found not only the labyrinth but also a further labyrinthine stone arrangement by Long, Stone Dance, this work also corresponds, stone for stone, to an older type; namely, the “Scandinavian Stone Labyrinth,” which Matthews published as Fig. 127 after Olof Rudbeck (1695).

On the borrowings of Long from the “Peruvian Ground Drawings” I have commented. not only in the aforementioned lecture but, earlier, in the catalogue I prepared for the Kunstraum München, Peruvian Ground Drawings, 1974, p 125.

22. For example, the work corresponds exactly in its path to the Roman mosaic from Piadena. The catalogue, Joe Tilson, Rome: Marlborough Gallery, 1975, illustrates numerous labyrinth works, whose originals can be found in Matthews.

23. Information with letter of January 1981.

24. Robert Morris/Projects, catalogue from the Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, March 23–April 27, 1974 The work belongs to Dr Panza di Biumo of Milan, as do two labyrinth drawings from 1976: cf. Germano Celant, Das Bild einer Geschichte 1956–1976: Die Sammlung Panza di Biumo, catalogue, Düsseldorf, 1980 (Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Kunstmuseum und Kunsthalle Düsseldorf), p 95, No. RM 28 C and RM 28; p. 97, No. RM 29.

25. The attribution is not certain. Florentine World Chronicle, London, British Museum, Ms. 197 d 3, fol. 29 verso and 30 recto; cf. Matthews, Fig 5.

26. Jane Livingston and Marcia Tucker, Bruce Nauman Work from 1965 to 1972, Los Angeles (catalogue for the exhibition in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; nos. 67, 69).

27. Alice Aycock: Projects and Proposals 1971–1978, catalogue, Muhlenberg College, Allentown, Pa., Kardon, “Janet Kardon interviews some Modern Maze-Makers,” pp. 65 ff. The work of Alice Aycock seems particularly eclectic: two of her works are simplified reconstructions of astronomical measuring instruments (but in wood) which the Mahārāja Jai Singh II erected around 1730 in Jaipur and Delhi. With “The Angels Continue Turning the Wheels of the Universe, Part II.” Amsterdam, 1977, reference is made, in the title, to a medieval cosmological idea, the two large “Jai Prakās Yantras,” in Jaipur (1734), are also formal inspirations. Studies for a Town, New York, 1977, is a simplified version of the “Miśra Yantra,” ca. 1724; cf. Hermann Kern: Kalenderbauten: Frühe Astronomische Grossgeräte aus Indien, Mexico und Peru, 2nd ed., Munich, 1976 (Die Neue Sammlung), pp 41–43; 59–61 In the exhibition of the same name, these sculptures were thoroughly documented.

28. Kardon, pp. 66 ff.; the Sod Maze, 1974, illustrated in Onorato, “The Modern Maze,” p 21, is neither a labyrinth nor a maze. Four concentric circles, with a radius projecting far outwards, are represented, it is rather an imitation of the so-called “cup and ring marks,” the widely dispensed Bronze Age, or perhaps Neolithic, rock incisions, whose meanings are still unclear, and which may perhaps be regarded as embryonic precursors of the labyrinth.

29. For the numerous labyrinth works of Wilienbecher see the catalogue John Willenbecher, Allentown, Pa.: The Allentown Art Museum, Jan 14–Feb 25, 1979, text by Jean-Louis Bourgeois entitled “Auspicious Mystery: The Art of John Willenbecher”; also see Kardon, pp. 67 ff.

30. E.g., Frédéric Chapuis: Der Labyrinth-Test, Bern/Stuttgart, 1959.

31. Kardon, pp. 66 ff.

32. Kardon, p. 68.

33. See Manfred Ach and Ugo Dossi, “Der Knoten aus Wort, Ego und Welt,” in the catalogue Ugo Dossi: Objekte zur kontinuierfichen Revolution, oder die doppelte Umkehrung im Möbiusband, Munich, Sept 14–Oct 20, 1974 (Städtische Galerie Im Lenbachhaus), pp. 34 ff., illustrations pp. 35–39; Udo Dossi, Relative Freedom or The Motive of Motivation, Munich, 1977.

34. The title of a narrative in Jorge Luis Borges, Labyrinthe, Munich, 1959.

35. Seven labyrinth works were shown in 1977 in an installation at the Site Gallery, San Francisco; for this see Tom Marioni, “We’ll string along somehow,” in San Francisco Magazine, January, 1977, p. 81; Robert Keil, “Terry Fox: Variations on a Labyrinth,” Artweek, April 2, 1977, p. 5; Knute Stiles, “Terry Fox: Meanders,” Artforum, Summer 1977, pp. 48 ff.

36. Excerpts from an autobiographical third-person statement, from a letter, Feb 6, 1981.

37. Marioni, p. 81.