Issue Number: 92
Ossian Ward admires a new book that updates the Grand Tour for a twenty-first century audience
While some might flinch at its populist, catch-all title, Destination Art does perfectly summarise the philosophy and content of this book, focusing as it does on works of art or, occasionally, architecture that cannot be found without some searching or, at the very least, a plane journey. Art tourism is nothing new, yet no one has attempted to update the eighteenth-century Grand Tour to suit our post-millennial, peripatetic lifestyles. Destination Art goes someway to providing a global guide to sculpture parks, artistic follies and seminal works of Outsider, Earth, Land and Environmental art, although in its glossy, large format I warrant that this book will inspire more travels than it accompanies.
Destination Art by Amy Dempsey Destination Art by Amy Dempsey Destination Art by Amy Dempsey
For the most part, the hard-to-find monuments that were the culminations of the artist’s life’s work make for the most rewarding reading, especially those secreted among forests, lakes and rolling hills such as Le Palais Idéal in Hauterives, France, which is a conglomeration of grottoes and temples built of stones, fossils and shells by a local postman between 1879 and 1912.
However, the author’s emphasis on historical depth and her nose for a good story reinvigorates familiar sites, such as Robert Smithson’s mythic Spiral Jetty in Utah and Brancusi’s Ensemble in Romania. These also benefit from updates on their current state, as well as locations and opening times.
While all tastes and curiosities are catered for – from Donald Judd’s minimalism to the maximalism of Mount Rushmore and from the bucolic garden of Little Sparta by Ian Hamilton Finlay to the urban playground of Simon Rodia’s Watts Towers – more contemporary interpretations of art destinations are absent, such as Rirkrit Tiravanija’s progressive and utopian artist-made village, The Land, near Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Destination Art by Amy Dempsey (Thames & Hudson, £24.95)
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