British, born 1945
Slate Line, 1979 Welsh slate, Overall length: 336 in. (853.4 cm.)
Raymond and Patsy Nasher Collection, Dallas, Texas
Slate Line is one of a large number of works conceived by Long in the late seventies and early eighties specifically for indoor gallery installation, unlike earlier stone sculptures that were placed in natural settings. Simple in configuration, these works are consistently composed of a sing material indigenous to a particular area traversed by the artist on one of his many documented "walks" through the countryside of Great Britain and various remote locations. Brought indoors and arranged in simple geometric formations-most often lines, circles, spirals-they suggest the unity of the natural world and man's rational ability to bring about a systematic ordering of form.
Composed of five sheets of Welsh slate quarried in Blaenau Ffestiniog in northern Wales, Slate Line allows the inherent sheetlike character of the slate to determine a corresponding flat, linear placement of the five stones. Guidelines for the installation of Long's works accompany each piece, such as the certificate for Slate Line:
"The stones are placed flat on the ground one by one, with the longitudinal axii of the stones in alignment. Each stone is placed with its lighter, weather-side uppermost. They are laid end to end, just touching but not overlapping. The stones are chosen in a random order."
While each installation may be slightly different, Long's guidelines specify weathered versus inherent color, axial alignment, and the continuity of touching rather than overlapping forms. Although strict alignments of modular elements are found in the work of Carl Andre, Long's stress on the natural differs from Andre's concern for the mathematical and industrial. The shapes of Long's configurations often suggest the straight line of a man walking, or the circular enclosure of a prehistoric ritual site, or the continuous structure of a geological formation. He made his first major stone line in Ireland in 1974. (For larger variations on the slate line, see R.H. Fuchs, Richard Long, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, 1986, pp. 147, 156.)