In 2003, we asked Andy Goldsworthy to develop a site-specific work that could be incorporated into the new de Young building. In response, Goldsworthy created Drawn Stone, 2005, a continuous crack running north from the edge of the Music Concourse roadway in front of the museum up to the main entrance door. Like Herzog & de Meuron’s design for the museum, with its intersecting diagonals, Goldsworthy’s work is inspired by the unique character of California’s tectonic topography.
Best known for his work with natural (and often ephemeral) materials, such as rock, wood, leaves, snow, and ice, Goldsworthy has made significant contributions to the histories of Earth, Environmental, Conceptual, Minimal, and Process art. Although Goldsworthy works exclusively with natural materials, he arranges and orders them into forms that lie just beyond the realm of the possible in nature, thus heightening the viewer’s awareness of the fine line between the natural and artifice. His works often emphasize the processes of nature — including creation and transformation — making the hand of the artist nearly invisible.
For Drawn Stone, Goldsworthy worked with the same Appleton Greenmoore stone, imported from Yorkshire, England, that surrounds the building. Along its path, the continuous crack bisects — and cleaves in two — a series of large, rough-hewn stone slabs that serve as seating for museum visitors.
Drawn Stone has particular resonance in the cultural landscape of California, a locus of environmental sensitivity and activism, as well as in relation to Walter Hood’s landscape design for the de Young and the natural environment of Golden Gate Park.