The pleasure and power of Richard Long’s work lies not only in the elegance of its execution but in the economy with which it condenses the cultural demands we make of landscape: the esthetic and the documentary (the evidence of “nature”), the romantic (solitude, wildness, transience), and the rational (order, harmony, permanence). In his photographs this is achieved without using the conventions of the picturesque; the scene is animated by the organization of materials. In his work, the inaccessible is brought, by analogy, into close visual alignment; horizontality is fore-grounded, placing us “in touch” with the substance and texture of what lies beneath the artist’s feet. The configurations within the images draw us upward and outward to a complementary natural feature in the distance, as in A Line in Scotland, 1981. However, the work is not simply topographical; its materials are the
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