In a Smithson sculpture like Aslphalt Rundown (1969), in which  truckload of he viscous material was poured down the gullied slope of a quarry near Rome, Hargreaves saw the expression of this contemporary conception of landscape. Although far from beautiful in any familiar sense, Hargreaves found such work deeply compelling for the way it brought time, gravity, erosion, human commerce, and the physical properties of matter all into play. ‘For the first time,’ Hargreaves recalled, “I understood that designed landscapes could be extraordinarily meaningful. The Smithson works reintroduced the concept of landscape as idea- something lost in the pursuit of the functional landscape- and opened a door to a world not yet fully explored and till expanding.

John Beardsley, Entropy and the New Landscapes (1996)

Robert Smithson, Asphalt Rundown, 1969 (Roma) (2)

Robert Smithson, Asphalt Rundown (1969)




George Hargreaves, Byxbee Park (1988)




Despite their common interest in landscape, artists, writers, planners, landscape architects, and geographers can never share the same definition of the term, nor will they always reach a full agreement within their own domain. Landscape serves a different purpose for each group, and each profession or discipline is unique in terms of its focus, objectives, scales of analysis, epistemologies, and methodologies. Nevertheless, each would benefit immensely from understanding the others’ conception of landscape.

Eugene J. Palka, Coming to grips with the concept of landscape (1995)


David Hockney, Pearblossom Highway (1986)

David Hockney, A Lawn Being Sprinkled (1967)


Robert Smithson, Spiral Jetty (1970)


Percy Adlon, Bagdad Cafe (1987)



Arts in advance

At all times the arts of painting and sculpture have been in advance of that of architecture. The reason for this is simple; architecture, mother of the arts though she may be, is cumbersome. Buildings must serve a purpose, and that purpose is usually traditional; they are made of involved and complex materials; they pass through many hands during the long period from the creation of the idea to completion; and upon the completion they cannot be put under glass and are subject to the whims of the owner. If this appraisal applies to architecture, it applies still more to landscape design.

Geoffrey Alan Jellicoe, Landscape from Art (1961) 

Robert Smithson, Spiral Jetty (1970)

Arts in advance