Seemingly impossible art forms: Strijdom van der Merwe's land art in the context of the South African art market

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 2
  • SDG 1
  • Abstract:

    This article explored the work of Strijdom van der Merwe, the concept of land art and the notion of the artist’s book in the context of the historical and contemporary art market. The premise of the article is the view that if something can be called art, it can also be sold, even if it is an art form that seems ‘impossible’ to sell, such as land art. This article considers the position of Van der Merwe, the pre-eminent South African land artist, in the somewhat unlikely context, of the South African art market. Van der Merwe is a successful full-time land artist, which is a rare phenomenon in the South African art scene. Indeed in the 1960s, land art was deemed impossible to sell anywhere, and this article explored the extent to which this is still the case today. The research method of the article comprised semi-structured interviews and a literature review. It was argued, in view of Van der Merwe’s work, that whilst it may be true that if something can be called art, it can be sold, then the proviso ‘somehow’ must be added when referring to seemingly ‘impossible art’.