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The Vertical Earth Kilometer

by Walter De Maria
documenta 6, 1977

Artwork audio
documenta 6
The Vertical Earth Kilometer


With funding provided by the American Dia Art Foundation, Walter De Maria had a one-kilometer-long brass rod inserted vertically into the ground in the direction of the center of the Earth between the Fridericianum and the monument to Landgrave Karl. All that is visible at ground level is the upper end—the circular top surface of the rod—which is embedded in a square sandstone plate. Thus scarcely visible, the work is relegated to the realm of imagination. The radically reduced visual presence of the hidden rod is meant to prompt us to reflect on the Earth and its place in the universe. It may also be interpreted as a symbolic act of restoring a valuable metal to the exploited Earth. The virtually invisible object is located at the point in which Minimal, Conceptual, and Land Art intersect and thus represents three significant artistic strategies of the period. Its diverse aesthetic, historical, and cosmic references make The Vertical Earth Kilometer one of the most significant works of art produced in the second half of the 20th century.

Property of: Stadt Kassel


Walter De Maria (* 1935 in Albany, California, USA; † 2013 in Los Angeles), was an important exponent of Minimal Art, Land Art, and Conceptual Art who took part in documenta 4, 5, and 6.