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Science  19 Dec 2008:
Vol. 322, Issue 5909, pp. 1791
DOI: 10.1126/science.322.5909.1791b

The Lightning Field Kenneth Baker Yale University Press, New Haven, CT, 2008. 166 pp. $35, £16. ISBN 9780300138948.

This monograph comprises two essays on Walter De Maria's 1977 masterpiece by the San Francisco Chronicle's art critic. The first—written for the Dia Art Foundation (which financed and owns The Lightning Field) in 1978 but abandoned after the esoteric and highly reclusive artist found it too descriptive—is presented as a “period artifact.” Beginning in 1994, Baker returned to the site four times, in different seasons, to deepen his experience of the work. He finished a second manuscript in the summer of 2001, but 9/11 and its aftermath led to substantial revisions. The result is a sobering collection of reflections thematically linked to Baker's personal reactions to “one of the profoundest of American artworks.”

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