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14 artists with a green message

By: Laura Moss on Aug. 15, 2011, 1:05 p.m.
Agnes Denes' "Wheatfield — A Confrontation"

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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Agnes Denes

One of the pioneers of environmental art and conceptual art, Agnes Denes is best known for her land art project, “Wheatfield – A Confrontation.” In May 1982, Denes planted a two-acre wheat field in Manhattan on Battery Park Landfill, just two blocks from Wall Street. The land was cleared of rocks and garbage by hand, and 200 truckloads of dirt were brought in. Denes maintained the field for four months until the crop was harvested, yielding more than 1,000 pounds of wheat. The harvested grain then traveled to 28 cities across the globe in an exhibition called “The International Art Show for the End of World Hunger,” and the seeds were planted worldwide.

Planting wheat across from the Statue of Liberty on urban land worth $4.5 billion created a powerful paradox that Denes hoped would call attention to our misplaced priorities. She says her works are “intended to help the environment and benefit future generations with a meaningful legacy.”