Land Art, an American art movement of the 1960s and 1970s, is thought to have been a reaction to the increasing commoditization and commercialization of the American art market in the 1960s. Prior to Land Art, the 1950s art movement Pop Art celebrated the iconic, mass-produced material goods of American domestic life. Pop artist Andy Warhol achieved celebrity status and great financial wealth. Land Art, in response, attempted to create art works that rejected capitalist systems that placed a monetary value on a work of art. The artist associated with the movement, such as artist couple Robert Smithson and Nancy Holt, created works that could not be sold or possessed. Land Art works are generally large-scale modifications or structures built into the land using natural materials that, at times, necessitated construction equipment for their creation. These works, by nature of becoming part of the landscape, cannot be transported. Like many national parks, works of Land Art are often in isolated locations across the landscape of western America that require long distances of intentional travel to access. Because of this, both national parks and lands art works are often experienced through photos.
Additionally, Land Art works are continually subjected to the natural processes that surround them. The works cannot be protected from environmental factors, but instead they constantly respond to them. Like the natural world, works of Land Art are continually in flux.
Land Art, like the national parks, encourages visitors to critically reflect on their relationship to the natural world. Both Land Art and the national parks modify the landscape in some way to generate an evocative response. The experiential viewing of these sites inspires a closer reflection on the histories of these spaces and the ways in which they will continue to respond to the environmental pressures of the future.