Drawn Stone

Drawn Stone, 2005
Andy Goldsworthy (b. 1956)

Andy Goldsworthy’s site-specific commission for the new de Young was inspired by the unique character of California’s tectonic topography. He created a continuous, seemingly random crack that runs north from the edge of the music concourse roadway into the open-air entrance court and up to the main museum entrance.

Along its path, this faux fault line bisects—and cleaves in two—eight large, rough-hewn boulders that also serve as seats for museum visitors. These boulders appear to have traveled along the fault line, an appropriate visual effect for stones brought to California from the artist’s native Yorkshire, England.[1] Commenting on this migration, Goldsworthy observed, “Stone and people making the same journey is for me a powerful expression of movement and of the great upheavals and displacements that have occurred to both.”[2]

Andy Goldsworthy has made important contributions to environmental, conceptual, minimal, and process art. Working exclusively with natural—and often ephemeral—materials, he structures them in arrangements that lie just beyond the realm of the possible in nature, heightening the viewer’s awareness of the fine line between nature and culture. 

While Goldsworthy’s works often appear to affirm geological, biological, and artistic creation, he is equally fascinated by the forces of entropy, decay, and destruction, which raise issues of human presence, intervention, and absence. Drawn Stone thus has a subtly subversive quality. It challenges the viewer’s conceptions of what constitutes a work of art by blurring the distinction between the natural and the man-made, while also drawing attention to the power of nature to undermine or destroy even the most monumental works created by humans. Noting that the new de Young was constructed on giant seismic shock absorbers designed to withstand a major earthquake, Goldsworthy observed that the museum “has been made in defiance of earthquakes. This [installation] is a small reminder of that threat, if you like. It’s with us all the time.”[2]

[1] Andy Goldsworthy, letter to Harry S. Parker III, March 22, 2004, in Andy Goldsworthy, Drawn Stone object file, American Art Department, de Young

[2] Jesse Hamlin, “Follow the Fissure to the New de Young—Andy Goldsworthy Will Lead the Way,” San Francisco Chronicle, April 28, 2005. p. E1

Andy Goldsworthy (b. 1956)
Drawn Stone, 2005
Appleton Greenmore sandstone
Museum purchase, gift of Lonna and Marshall Wais

Listen to Julian Cox, Founding Curator of Photography and Chief Curator, provide his perspective on Andy Goldsworthy’s Drawn Stone.