Walter De Maria, TRUTH / BEAUTY, 1993–2016, solid stainless steel and granite, fourteen sculptures in seven sets, each sculpture: 7 1/2 × 42 1/8 × 42 1/8 inches (19 × 107 × 107 cm) © 2016 Estate of Walter De Maria. Photo by Joseph Asghar
Walter De Maria’s six–decade career made a lasting and profound contribution to contemporary art. A vanguard force within four major art historical movements during the twentieth century—Minimalism, conceptual art, land art, and installation art—De Maria mined both mathematical absolutes and elements of the sublime in his large–scale sculptures and installations.
De Maria’s sculpture developed in New York during the 1960s. Expanding upon the Minimalist notion of implicating the art space, his artwork pushed the boundaries of the traditional white cube. “Mile Long Drawing,” (1968) in California’s Mojave Desert, “The New York Earth Room,” (1977, first executed in Munich in 1968), and “The Lightning Field,” (1977) in New Mexico, explored the relationship between art and the natural environment. The geometric themes and principles of measuring and numbering which first appeared in his early work came to define De Maria’s sculpture. Over the decades, De Maria created many site–specific installations using repeated geometric shapes in a variety of mediums and sizes. His mathematical and methodical sculpture, simple in form and presentation, fosters a heightened awareness of the surrounding world.
Walter De Maria was born in 1935 in Albany, California, and died in 2013 in Los Angeles, California. He studied at the University of California, Berkeley, from 1953 to 1959, where he received his B.A. in History, and his M.A. in Art. De Maria’s work has been shown extensively around the world in numerous solo and group exhibitions. Recent solo shows include Kunsthaus Zürich, Switzerland (1992); Fondazione Prada, Milan (1999); Nationalgalerie im Hamburger Bahnhof, Hamburg (2000, traveled to Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Germany); De Pont Foundation for Contemporary Art, The Netherlands (2005); Nelson–Atkins Art Museum of Art, Kansas City (2007); Dia Art Foundation, New York (2010); Museum Brandhorst, Munich (2010); The Menil Collection, Houston (2011); and Los Angeles County Museum of Art, California (2012–13).
Permanent, long–term and commissioned sculpture installations include “The Lightning Field,” New Mexico (1977); “The New York Earth Room,” New York (1977); “The Vertical Earth Kilometer,” Germany (1977); “The Broken Kilometer,” New York (1979); “5 Continent Sculpture,” Germany (1989); “French Bicentennial Sculpture (1789–1989),” Paris (1990); “5–7–9 Series,” Gemäldegalerie Berlin, Germany (1998); “Seen/Unseen, Known/Unknown,” Naoshima Contemporary Art Museum, Japan (2000); “One Sun/34 Moons,” The Nelson–Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City (2002); “Time/Timeless/No Time,” Chichu Art Museum, Japan (2004); and “Large Red Sphere,” Türkentor, Kunstareal Munich, Germany (2010). His sculpture Apollo's Ecstasy (1990) was included in the 55th Biennale di Venezia in 2013.