cover image Art & Place: Site-Specific Art of the Americas

Art & Place: Site-Specific Art of the Americas

The Editors of Phaidon Press. Phaidon, $79.95 hardcover with textured case (368p) ISBN 978-0-7148-65515

The most ambitious summary of site-specific art in the western hemisphere to date, this coffee-table book encompasses works that span two continents and thousands of years: from ancient geoglyphs in Chile’s Atacama Desert, to pop artist Claes Oldenburg’s whimsical clothespin sculpture in Philadelphia, and nearly everything in between. The editors, led by Amanda Renshaw, have organized the sites geographically, which encourages thrilling visual and conceptual relationships between sites across cultures and periods. It’s a pleasure, for example, to view Michael Heizer’s land artwork “Double Negative” alongside the pictographs in Utah’s Horseshoe Canyon. Similarly, it is revelatory to see that James Turrell’s cavernous Roden Crater shares the sublimity of baroque church interiors in Ecuador and Brazil. Large-scale photographs allow for an immersive experience of these faraway, sometimes inaccessible sites, while the pithy commentary is highly informative. There are other reasons to admire this book, not least of which is the ephemeral nature of some site-specific art. Frank Stella’s maximalist murals and relief sculptures in Toronto’s Princess of Wales Theatre, for instance, among the largest site-specific commissions of the 20th century, are to be dismantled in the future. While it’s a shame that site-specific works of street art are excluded, this book remains a striking achievement. 800 color illus. (Nov.)