The bilingual (English, French) edition of a previously unpublished interview with Walter De Maria conducted by Paul Cummings in 1972 for the Archives of American Art.
The text, available online as a raw transcription, has never been been previously published in English, nor was a French translation available. In this lively and extensive interview recorded in 1972, Walter De Maria talks about his formative years in California, his beginnings as a musician, his first forays into sculpture and early years in New York. He describes the many artists, gallerists, and collectors he befriended and worked with, among them Robert Morris
, La Monte Young, Robert Whitman, Robert C. Scull, and Virginia Dwan. Throughout the conversation, De Maria provides in depth details of his first sculptures and earth works, and shares his discovery of the desert on his first trips West with Michael Heizer
Walter De Maria was an American artist born in 1935 in
California. He was passionate about music from a very
young age and became a professional drummer. He studied
in Berkeley and participated in many Happenings
in California. De Maria moved to New York in 1960,
and made his first series of sculptures the following
year. In 1963, he opened the artist-run gallery, 9 Great
Jones Street Gallery, where he exhibited his sculptures.
Though he was hesitant about pursuing a musical career,
he continued to compose, and played with Velvet
Underground, before definitively opting for sculpture.
He began working with metal in 1965, with the support
of collector Robert C. Scull.
From 1968 onwards, Walter De Maria became one of the
leading figures of Land art
, making large-scale works like Mile Long Drawing
in the Mojave Desert. He began to
exhibit his works abroad in major exhibitions, notably
at the Kunstmuseum in Basel in 1972. In 1969, he began
working on his most famous work, The Lighting Field
completed in 1977. Located in a desert region of New
Mexico, The Lighting Field
is an installation of 400 steel
poles regularly distributed over an area of approximately
one square kilometer. When thunderstorms erupt, they
hit metal poles, as some photographs show. In the 1970s,
Walter De Maria created permanent works in New York,
including The New York Earth Room
(1977) and The Broken
(1979). He died in New York in 2013.