Ribbon Around A Bomb

Femme Avant-core

Arts Bombast: Walter de Maria’s Lightning Field

It’s pretty deplorable: despite the fact that I LIVED in rural New Mexico, not even 100 miles north of Quemado, the entire time that I was there I never made it out to see Walter de Maria’s brilliant Lightning Field.

Someday, when I’m back visiting Thoreau and Gallup, though, I will. And I’ll drive through Zuni country, pay the $250 dollars to stay the night, and head back up through El Malpais the next day.

lightning field 2

I feel like I’ve been posting a lot about people who died lately, but if death is an excuse to pay tribute to some of my favorite artists, hell, I’ll take it. Walter de Maria died yesterday, and yes, I’m using this as an opportunity to share Lightening Field with RAAB readers.

walter de maria 2

walter de maria

Lightning Field is an installation of 400 stainless steel rods in a remote field in New Mexico. Viewers are encouraged to experience it over an extended period of time, and it’s felt differently for everyone. Lightning may or may not be a component of the unique experience (but I would sure like to see it if I made the trip out.)

Created in 1977, Lightning Field was one of the earliest works to challenge the confines of galleries and museums, and reimagine what pure abstraction means when an artist thinks beyond traditional mediums. I swear, New Mexico is home to everything strange, experimental and shady- it’s the best part of having all that open space.

lightning field


If his work in sculpture wasn’t cool enough, De Maria has another AWESOME claim to fame: In the mid-’60s, he played drums in a proto-proto-punk band called the Primitives with Lou Reed and John Cale. “The Ostrich” was a kind of rock and roll parody of popular dance songs of the time, and it was a minor hit:

PS- You might like: My very first blog post of all time, which was right after Mike Kelley died.

4 comments on “Arts Bombast: Walter de Maria’s Lightning Field

  1. TommyTopHat
    July 26, 2013

    The Lightning Field looks like some sort of purgatory place, or somewhere nice to find aliens.

  2. jhubner73
    July 27, 2013

    New Mexico is home to everything strange…so very true.

    I’d never heard of this or him. Truly fascinating. I’d love to see this someday.

  3. Kevin Hubbard
    July 30, 2013

    Sante Fe,New Mexico literally blew my mind.It changed my life during the brief entrancement of time that I experienced being there in the winter of 1978.Having recently spent the duration of an area thunderstorm in Alabama rife with lethally seductive lightning,I was intoxicated with the initial impact of seeing those haunting images evoked by the abstact art pieces shared.It also reminded me of the scene in the film “SLC Punk” that depicted the sister of the character named Chris.She captured a polaroid snapshot of a lightning vein,which Stevo conceeded to being representative of anarchy.Considering the magnitude of complexity that I felt challenged by in digesting the work,I was moved by both familiarity and jealousy.

    • ribbonaroundabomb
      August 16, 2013

      I just came from Salt Lake, and all I could think about was SLC Punk… such a good movie.

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This entry was posted on July 26, 2013 by in Arts Bombast and tagged , , , , , .

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