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Contemporary art

Western art

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Southern gravity



Sir Richard Long


02 Jun 1945 -


'From thunder and summer rains on the high South African veld to a day’s work in Sydney. A terracotta clay and water work made with a fast hand. I make one part of the image, and the forces of nature make the rest. The macro-scale and the micro-scale, deliberation and chance. I walk away with bats flying high over the Domain.'
Richard Long 2011

Richard Long has made the act of walking in remote and extraordinary landscapes into an art form. It is during these walks that he arranges natural objects such as rocks into geometric forms which he then photographs.

‘Southern gravity’ was commissioned by John Kaldor specially for the John Kaldor Family Gallery. Long’s mud drawings relate to the water lines poured over rock shelves that he often makes on his walks. Like the artist’s stone works, ‘Southern gravity’ is based on a geometric shape but the application of the mud is done with such an intensely energetic movement – akin to a ritual dance – that striking traces of the artist’s hand gestures are left behind. The wet mud splashes, drips and sprays over the underlying geometry, expressing not only the speed of execution but also the effects of gravity. The finer drips create the impression of a shower that is almost like the rain in a Hokusai print.

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The Idea of Art

15.3cm wide x 23.4cm high





Media category

Mixed media painting

Materials used



460.0 x 1080.0 cm

Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.


Gift of the John Kaldor Family Collection 2013. Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Sir Richard Long

Works in the collection


Shown in 1 exhibition

Exhibition history

  • Unpainting, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 16 Sep 2017–12 Aug 2018

Referenced in 3 publications


Anthony Bond, Look, 'Rehang of Level 2 June 2012', pg.28-30, Sydney, May 2012, 28.

Anthony Bond, John Kaldor family collection: Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'Richard Long', pg.132-149, Sydney, 2011, 134, 148-49 (colour illus.).

Jackie Dunn, Look, 'Behind these walls', pg.56, Sydney, Feb 2016, 56.