Sir Richard Julian Long, CBE, RA (born 2 June 1945) is an English sculptor and one of the best-known British land artists.
Long is the only artist to have been short-listed four times for the Turner Prize. He was nominated in 1984, 1987 and 1988, and then won the award in 1989 for White Water Line. He lives and works in Bristol, the city in which he was born.
Long studied at Saint Martin’s School of Art before going on to create work using various media including sculpture, photography and text. His work is on permanent display in Britain at the Tate and Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery as well as galleries in America, Switzerland and Australia.
Long’s work has broadened the idea of sculpture to be a part of performance art and conceptual art. His work typically is made of earth, rock, mud, stone and other nature based materials. In exhibitions his work is typically displayed with the materials or through documentary photographs of his performances and experiences.
Early life and education
Long was born in Bristol, in south-west England. Between 1962 and 1965 he studied at the West of England College of Art, and then, from 1966 to 1968, at Saint Martin’s School of Art in London, where he studied under Anthony Caro and Phillip King and became closely associated with fellow student Hamish Fulton.
Several of his works were based around walks that he has made, and as well as land based natural sculpture, he uses the mediums of photography, text and maps of the landscape he has walked over. Long has been taking these walks since the mid 1960s where he has walked in places such as the Sahara Desert, Australia, Iceland and near his home in Bristol, United Kingdom. His work has proven to be revolutionary as it has changed how society views sculpture. His work has influenced the boundaries of sculpture to not be limited to only “traditional” materials and to be able to use alternative materials in his work. Not only is he using alternative materials such as rock and earth, but he also changed what art is, as the actual art piece can be the process of creating the art itself.
In his work, often cited as a response to the environments he walked in, the landscape would be deliberately changed in some way, as in A Line Made by Walking (1967), and sometimes sculptures were made in the landscape from rocks or similar found materials and then photographed. Other pieces consist of photographs or maps of unaltered landscapes accompanied by texts detailing the location and time of the walk it indicates.
His piece Delabole Slate Circle, acquired from the Tate Modern in 1997, is a central piece in Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery. The piece is nearly 2 metres in diameter and is composed of 168 pieces of slate that came from the Delabole quarry in Cornwall, United Kingdom. The piece can be configured differently, however Long has specified a few rules on how it should be put together. All pieces of stone must touch so that they can be locked together and stable, as well as the pieces must form a circle. The connection of the slates and the geometric shape illustrates a common theme that Long portrays in his work about the relationship between man and nature. Long explains, “you could say that my work is … a balance between the patterns of nature and formalism of human, abstract ideas of lines and circles. It is where my human characteristics meet the natural forces and patterns of the world, and that is really the kind of subject of my work.”
South Bank Circle by Richard Long, Tate Liverpool, England. (1991)
Small White Pebble Circles, Tate Modern, London (1987)
White Water Falls, Garvan Institute, Sydney (2012)
Brittany red stone circle, Museum of Grenoble (1978)
At Houghton Hall in Norfolk, the Marquess of Cholmondeley commissioned a sculpture to the east of the house. Long’s land art there consists of a circle of Cornish slate at the end of a path mown through the grass.
Permanent installations include Riverlines (2006) at the Hearst Tower in New York, US (at about 35 x 50 feet (11 x 15 metres) this was at the time the biggest wall work he had ever made); Planet Circle (1991) at the Museum de Pont, Tilburg, Netherlands; and White Water Falls (2012) in the Garvan Institute in Sydney, Australia.
In 2009, a retrospective of Long’s work entitled “Heaven and Earth,” appeared at the Tate Britain. In 2015, a major solo exhibition Richard Long: Time and Space, at the Arnolfini, celebrated his work in his hometown of Bristol.
Long has created several pieces which hearken back to the original 1967 piece A Line Made by Walking. Some are circles or organic paths. Some exist in snow, dust, and even charred grass.
Walked path sculptures by Richard Long
Title Location Date Description Source
Walking a Line in Peru Peru 1972 narrow path walked across a wide plain, leading to the foothills of distant mountains 
A Line and Tracks in Bolivia Bolivia 1981 approximately 150 feet long with
Sea Level Waterline Death Valley, California, US 1982 path walked at the zero foot contour, representing sea level in low-lying Death Valley 
A Line in Nepal Nepal 1983 forest path approximately 50 feet long 
Grass Circle- Ring of verde di Prato stone Italy 1985 The artist worked inside and outside to create two complementary installations 
Walking a Circle in Mist Scotland 1986 circular path approximately 75 feet in diameter; outside of path fades outward creating a corona-like effect 
Dusty Boots Line The Sahara 1988 approximately 200 feet long; light dust is revealed underneath the dark surface rocks of the Sahara 
Whirlwind The Sahara 1988 spiral path approximately 75 feet in diameter emanating from a single central point 
Mahalakshmi Hill Line Maharashtra, India 2003 organically curving path approximately 100 feet long; chaff is moved to reveal dark, underlying earth 
A Walking and Running Circle Maharashtra, India 2003 circular path approximately 15 feet across; created after controlled grass burn; Long walked the path; local children later ran on the same path 
Midday Muezzin Line Siwa, Egypt 2006 approximately 200 feet long, one side of the path is stark while the other feathers out to the side 
Tigerline Switzerland 2010 approximately 300 feet long, follows an existing footpath, a narrow central line is walked to reveal dark stone under snow 
Nile (Papers of River Muds). Los Angeles: Lapis Press, 1990.
South America. Brest: Zédélé éditions, 2012. (Düsseldorf: Konrad Fischer, 1972 [1st ed.]).
Clarrie Wallis’ 2009 book, Richard Long: Heaven and Earth was published as a companion to an exhibit of his photographs at the Tate Gallery, London.
Selected honours and awards
1976 Represented Britain in the British Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy
1989 Turner Prize, Tate Gallery, London, UK
1990 Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, French Ministry of Culture, Paris, France
2001 Elected to the Royal Academy of Arts
2009 Awarded the Praemium Imperiale for sculpture from Japan
2015 Named Whitechapel Gallery Art Icon
Long was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2013 New Year Honours and a Knight Bachelor in the 2018 New Year Honours for services to art.
Long’s Whitechapel Slate Circle (1981) brought a record price for the artist in 1989 when it sold for $209,000 at Sotheby’s in New York. At another auction in 1992, the piece was estimated far more modestly at $120,000 to $160,000, but bidding never exceeded $110,000; instead, the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. purchased it in 1994 through dealer Anthony d’Offay.
“New Year’s Honours 2018” (PDF). Gov.uk. Government Digital Service. 29 December 2017. p. 3. Retrieved 29 December 2017.
Turner Prize History – Richard Long
“Richard Long: Time and Space”. Arnolfini. Retrieved 19 August 2018.
Richard Long Official Website http://www.richardlong.org/
O’Hagan, Sean (10 May 2009). “One Step Beyond”. The Guardian. Retrieved 19 August 2018.
“Richard Long – Artists – James Cohan”. www.jamescohan.com. Retrieved 25 November 2019.
Tate. “‘South Bank Circle’, Richard Long, 1991”. Tate. Retrieved 25 November 2019.
Donald, Caroline. “The new garden at Houghton Hall, King’s Lynn, Norfolk,” The Times (London), 11 May 2008.
Richard Long newsletter No. 50 – 7 September 2006.
Planet Circle (1991)  Museum De Pont, Netherlands
Keniger, Michael. “The Kinghorn Cancer Centre”. Magazine Article. Architecture AU. Retrieved 1 May 2014.
Cashdan, Marina. “Richard Long.” Modern Painters, November 2009.
“Richard Long: TIME AND SPACE”. Arnolfini. Retrieved 4 August 2020.
“Sculptures”. Richard Long. Retrieved 6 December 2019.
https://www.whitechapelgallery.org/support/art-icon-swarovski/art-icon-swarovski-richard-long/ | title=Art Icon 2015: Richard Long – Whitechapel Gallery
“No. 60367”. The London Gazette (Supplement). 29 December 2012. p. 8.
“No. 62150”. The London Gazette (Supplement). 30 December 2017. p. N2.
Carol Vogel (18 November 1992), A Night to Buy Low at Sotheby’s New York Times.
Roelstraete, Dieter. Richard Long: A Line Made by Walking. London: Afterall Books, 2010.
Gayford, Martin. “In the studio: Richard Long,”[dead link] Daily Telegraph (London). 4 April 2006.
Gooding, Mel and William Furlong. (2002). Artists, Land, Nature. New York: Abrams. ISBN 978-0-810-94189-2
Long Richard, Mirage, edition Phaidon, 1998, ISBN 0-7148-3779-2
Tafalla, Marta. “From Allen Carlson to Richard Long: The Art-Based Appreciation of Nature”, in: Alessandro Bertinetto, Fabian Dorsch, Cain Todd (eds.). Proceedings of the European Society for Aesthetics, vol. 2, pp 491–515, 2010.
Miller, Juliet. On the Track of Richard Long. Norwich: “Smokehouse Press”, 2014. ISBN 978-095-763-3513
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