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Environment/Object/Ecosystem: Land Art after 1960

James Nisbet, California State University, Long Beach, Fellow 2010/11

During my time at Dumbarton Oaks this spring, the mainstay of my time has been directed towards expanding my research on the ecological underpinnings of advanced artistic practices of the late 1960s. Looking primarily at the condition of photography and sculpture during this period, my reading has drawn upon the collection of twentieth-century ecological theory, artists' writings, historical catalogs, and artist journals in the Dumbarton Oaks Library. I have also benefited from the holdings at the Archives of American Art and various works of art on view throughout the city of Washington. From this research, I have begun a book manuscript that will consist of five chapters. During the term of my fellowship, I have composed preliminary drafts for three of these in addition to refashioning the final chapter in my study, which addresses the American artist Walter De Maria's site-specific work of art in New Mexico entitled The Lightning Field, as an independent essay. Throughout my stay, I have benefitted from extensive and inspiring conversation on environmental practices across the arts with my colleagues Anatole Tchikine, Sonja Dümpelmann, Nurit Lissovsky, James Schissel, Michael Lee, and especially John Beardsley. It has also been a true pleasure to mull over the finer points of an argument while strolling through the Dumbarton Oaks garden. A final thanks to all who work tirelessly to make this the special place that it is.

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