In the late 1960s and early 1970s, artists like Michael Heizer and Robert Smithson were doing strange things in the desert. Digging ditches, building spirals of rocks, riding motorcycles in wide circles—they were among a group of contemporary artists using the vastness of the American West to explore a relatively new genre that would come to be known as land art.
An Italian photographer named Gianfranco Gorgoni was there, too. His photographs of these large-scale and hard-to-reach artworks would end up standing in for the pieces themselves, spreading around the world and bringing attention to the dusty artists turning the land into their canvas.
A new exhibition now open at the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno brings Gorgoni’s work and his role in growing the land art movement out of the shadows. Gianfranco Gorgoni: Land Art Photographs, features more than 50 photos of major land