To those of us who have spent our lives in a moderate climate–ours is moist, mild, misty, and lush–it is stunning to encounter the desert for the first time. Pic above is a desert in Peru looking to swallow up the highway, found here.
We are here to say that people can lose their heads over this landscape, falling quickly and hard. The torrid attraction to desert heat and space happens not only to ordinary boys and girls off on a road trip (like this smitten traveller in Bolivia seen here ) but to all sorts of exotic creatures, including architects and artists.
If you want to do more than just look and swoon at the desert, if you want to live there, find yourself an architect who’s got the desert bug. Above is called the Four Eyes House by California architect Edward Ogosta, more here .
Say “Desert house” to many an architect and you’ve got them where you want them. Here you don’t have to worry about the zoning restrictions, the neighbours, or where to put the lumber, trucks, and tools while you are building. This freedom, combined with the sheer harshness of the physical factors, has produced some beautiful results. Above three desert designs are by Olson Kundig Architects, Robert Stone, and Rick Joy, all found here.
Artists too have found freedom and inspiration in the desert–the flat open space must seem liberating to any artist who feels confined by the canvas and the studio. Above is Cadillac Ranch near Amarillo Texas as it looked when produced in 1974 by an art gang named Ant Farm. See here.
The artist who in our time has set the standard for getting out of the studio, Christo, has wrapped up big things (bridges, buildings) all over the world and now intends to place a very big thing in the desert landscape of the United Arab Emirates , as reported here
And this is American artist Michael Heizer, image from here.
Mr Heizer has devoted a good slice of his life and imagination and hutzpah to creating, not a sculpture, not a monument, but a city in the desert of Nevada. Above image from Treehugger and more from the NYT
And if you like art and light and you don’t know what James Turrell has been doing in the desert, you need to go here now.
Above is an entry into James Turrell’s Roden Crater project found here
But don’t go getting the idea that it is just the 1% of the artistic club, the superstars, who get their hormones and imaginations all swept up in the desert. Lots of everyday free spirits with a gluegun and a hammer and a glint in their eye do too.
This is a portion of the life work of one Noah Purifoy, now known as the Noah Purifoy Outdoor Desert Art exhibit near Joshua Tree CA. Visit here.
Many of the freest spirits who lust for the desert end up at the Burning Man Festival every late August/September.
Held in northern Nevada in Black Rock Desert, it is about art and life and transportation and fire and lust and freedom and a lot more. Only a desert seems capable of hosting such a collection of desires. Pic by Jim Bourg/Reuters via Boston.com
Before the burning, time for tea. This image is one of many at the Big Picture site at Boston.com.
Some of the sculpture is wondrous, such as the piece shown below in this photograph by Frederick Larson of the SF Chronicle.
The desert seems to be able to accommodate and excite all varieties of humanity. It’s not just the unclothed and untamed who fall for it, but the super sophisticates who find something unexpected and rich in the plain hot flat emptiness if it. How about you?
Mr Noel Coward, 1954 photo by Loomis Dean for Life Magazine seen here