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An aerial view of New York City showing the Triborough Bridge and Randall’s Island and parts of the Bronx and Manhattan, with four small collage applied orange-toned photos of vegetation inserted into various lots. This blue-toned lithograph is from a suite of 12 prints in the same format of different parts of Manhattan. This set of aerial views is part of a larger project by Alan Sonfist called Time Landscapes that began in 1965 and continues to the present day.
In 1965, Sonfist proposed to City officials that they allow him to return 50 parcels of land to the way they might have looked in pre-Colonial times. In 1978, the same year that this lithograph was made, he created one such forest, on the northeast corner of Houston Street and LaGuardia Place in Greenwich Village, called Time Landscape. To execute the project, he installed tons of earth and planted native trees and shrubs. Time Landscape remains at that site, and is considered one of the seminal projects of the ecological art movement. Since that time, Sonfist has created many other projects on similar themes around the world.
Alan Sonfist is an internationally respected artist, with works in museum collections and numerous commissioned works throughout the U.S. and Europe, especially Germany, Italy and France. He is considered a pioneer of the ecological art movement, in which site-specific outdoor works bring people to consider the natural environment. However, unlike some of the artists who are known for “earthworks,” Sonfist is interested in urban settings and in getting people to consider the history of the land and how humans have interacted with a particular place. “We are part of nature; we have to include ourselves within the natural system,” he observes.
“Alan Sonfist.” GreenMuseum.org. 2008. http://www.greenmuseum.org/content/artist_index/artist_id-129.html (31 October 2008).
Lebowitz, Cathy. “Alan Sonfist at Paul Rodgers/9W.” Art in America. November 2005. Online at BNet. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1248/is_10_93/ai_n15860932/pg_1 (31 October 2008).
“Resume.” Alan Sonfist. http://www.alansonfist.com/Resume.html (3 November 2008).
Rosenblum, Robert. “Interview with the Artist.” 1989. Online at Alan Sonfist. http://www.alansonfist.com/Rosenbrginterview.html (3 November 2008).