HomePage Artists

(1935 – 2013), USA

Walter De Maria Biography

Walter De Maria was involved in a range of movements within the art scene of 1960s New York. A pioneer of not only Minimalism and Conceptual art, but also Land art and Installation art, he is perhaps best known as a Land artist, alongside contemporaries such as Michael Heizer and Robert Smithson.

Read More

Originally from California, De Maria moved to New York in 1960. At that time, he began incorporating the philosophies of Land art into his practice, writing proposals such as Art Yard (1960), in which he outlined an event where machines would dig a large hole and spectators would watch. However, this artwork lives only in text.

Alongside these initial experiments, De Maria was informed by the Minimalist awareness of the white cube gallery space. With this knowledge he decided to reject traditional art settings, turning to landscapes such as that of the Mojave Desert and New Mexico for exhibition spaces.

The Dia Art Foundation financed the artist's most famous site-specific installations and is the reason they are still viewable today. The best known of these works is The Lightning Field (1977): a grid delineated by 400 stainless steel poles 20 feet and 7.5 inches tall (on average), spaced 220 feet apart within a one-kilometre-by-one-mile area. Lightning rarely strikes, but even without lightning the installation maintains moments of breathtaking beauty, especially when the light of the rising or setting sun reflects off the poles. Though the poles are of varying height depending to the height of the ground they are standing on, their solid pointed tips delineate a consistently level horizontal plane. Within the urban setting of New York, Dia facilitated the artist's The New York Earth Room (1977)—an installation in which De Maria filled the floor of a loft with 22 inches of dirt. The presence of such a large quantity of earth makes the air of the space dense and moist. This gesture was carried out twice prior to New York, the first iteration taking place in Munich in 1968.

Another of De Maria's Dia artworks is The Vertical Earth Kilometer (1977)—A solid brass rod two inches in diameter and one kilometre long, inserted one kilometre into the ground of Kassel, Germany, so only the very top of the rod (its cross section) is visible, flush to the surface of the ground. A two-metre-square red sandstone plate, with the circular end of the rod visible at its centre, also rests on the ground. A pair with The Vertical Earth Kilometer, The Broken Kilometer (1979) in New York is an installation of 500 two-metre brass rods, solid and again two inches in diameter, arranged in five rows. The Broken Kilometer divides up the kilometre that The Vertical Earth Kilometer hides in the earth.

De Maria received both his BA and his MA from the University of California, Berkeley. His permanent, long-term, and commissioned sculptural installations can be found in the USA, Germany, France, and Japan.

Casey Carsel | Ocula | 2019

Walter De Maria Featured Artworks

14-Sided Open Polygon by Walter De Maria contemporary artwork
Walter De Maria14-Sided Open Polygon, 1984Solid stainless steel with solid stainless steel ball
10.2 x 226.1 x 226.1 cm
Gagosian Contact Gallery
Ball Drop by Walter De Maria contemporary artwork
Walter De MariaBall Drop, 1961–1964Grey stain, graphite and paint on plywood, with solid wood ball, in two parts
Gagosian Contact Gallery

Walter De Maria Recent Exhibitions

Contemporary art exhibition, Walter De Maria, Idea to Action to Object at Gagosian, London
24 January–9 March 2019 Walter De Maria Idea to Action to Object GagosianGrosvenor Hill, London

Walter De Maria Represented By

Gagosian contemporary art gallery in 980 Madison Avenue, New York, USA Gagosian New York, Beverly Hills, San Francisco, London, Paris, Le Bourget, Geneva, Basel, Rome, Athens, Hong Kong

Walter De Maria In Related Press

View All (5)
Walter De Maria: Truck Trilogy Related Press Walter De Maria: Truck Trilogy 1 November 2019, Gagosian Quarterly

An endless country traversed by telegraph poles, straight roads, and now and then a solitary car–or, actually more likely, a light pickup truck, slowly burrowing its way through the landscape toward the vanishing point. And if it were up to me, that truck would be an early-1950s Chevrolet Advance Design 3100. The 1950s were when the pickup truck...

Fade out copy.
Read More
How Walter De Maria turned the Earth into an art work Related Press How Walter De Maria turned the Earth into an art work 22 April 2019, Dazed

As one of the founding fathers of the 1960s land art movement, Walter De Maria is renowned for his monumental installations dealing with matters of time and space on a grand scale. Despite his reputation as one of the greats, Walter De Maria was a notoriously private man. A reserved individual, he steadfastly avoided interviews and gallery...

Fade out copy.
Read More
Yelp and TripAdvisor Critics Take on Walter De Maria Related Press Yelp and TripAdvisor Critics Take on Walter De Maria 4 October 2017, Hyperallergic

When artist, sculptor, and musician Walter De Maria died in 2013, he left one of his works unfinished. Titled Truck Trilogy, it features three Chevrolet pickup trucks with three erect steel rods standing in their flatbeds. Each of the highly polished rods is slightly different — either circular, square, or triangular. The installation...

Fade out copy.
Read More
A Documentary Mines the Stories of Three Pioneers of Land Art Related Press A Documentary Mines the Stories of Three Pioneers of Land Art 28 September 2015, Hyperallergic

They displaced thousands of pounds of earth, broke down mountains, rejected art galleries and dealers, and carefully constructed mythologies around their art and lives. The land artists of the late 1960s and early '70s have long been romanticized as cowboys who used their bare hands and raw physical force to create monumental art in extreme...

Fade out copy.
Read More

Sign up to be notified when new artworks and exhibitions by Walter De Maria are added to Ocula.


Scan the QR Code via WeChat to follow Ocula's official account.

Scan to follow Ocula on WeChat.