Schelling Naturphilosophie & Land Art Interconnection
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 7 min read


  1. Who was Schelling?
  2. Schelling Naturphilosophie explained
  3. Land Art: Definition and History
  4. How Schelling Naturphilosophie influences Land Art
  5. The interconnection between Schelling Naturphilosophie and Land Art
  6. Examples of Land Art inspired by Schelling Naturphilosophie

Imagine if art and nature could have a conversation, and that conversation became a tangible creation. That's exactly what we'll explore in this blog. We're diving into the deep relationship between Schelling's Naturphilosophie and Land Art. So sit back, relax, and let's journey into this fascinating interconnection.

Who was Schelling?

First, let's get to know the philosopher behind Naturphilosophie: Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph von Schelling. Known as Schelling for short, he was a German philosopher who lived from 1775 to 1854. His ideas still influence many areas of study, including art, to this day.

Early Life and Education

Schelling was born in Leonberg, Germany. His family had a strong academic background, with his father being a professor of Oriental languages. Schelling himself was a bit of a prodigy. He entered a seminary school at just 13, where he began studying philosophy. By the time he was 19, he was already a tutor at the University of Tübingen.

Philosophical Journey

Throughout his life, Schelling had a pretty unique philosophical journey. He started out as a follower of Johann Gottlieb Fichte, another German philosopher. But as he studied more, he began developing his own ideas. That's when he came up with Naturphilosophie.

The Birth of Naturphilosophie

So what is Naturphilosophie? Well, it's a philosophy that sees nature as a living organism, not just a bunch of lifeless objects. Schelling believed that everything in nature, from the tiniest atom to the largest galaxy, is interconnected. And, according to him, understanding these connections can give us a deeper understanding of the universe and our place in it. This philosophy became a cornerstone of Schelling's work and thought.

Impact on Different Fields

Schelling's work wasn't just limited to philosophy. His ideas had a huge influence on other fields, too. He impacted the world of art, inspiring artists to see nature in a new light. His Naturphilosophie also influenced the sciences, especially biology and physics. He believed that by understanding the natural world, we can gain a better understanding of ourselves. And that's exactly what we'll be exploring in this blog, particularly the interconnection between Schelling's Naturphilosophie and Land Art.

Schelling Naturphilosophie explained

Now that we know a bit about Schelling, let's explore his Naturphilosophie in more depth. This philosophy, which means "philosophy of nature" in German, is a fundamental part of Schelling's work. But what does it really mean?

A New Perspective on Nature

At its core, Schelling's Naturphilosophie is a new way of looking at nature. Schelling saw nature as a living, evolving entity rather than a static collection of objects. He believed that everything in the universe is interconnected, from the smallest atom to the largest galaxy.

The Unity of Opposites

One of the key ideas in Schelling's Naturphilosophie is the concept of the "unity of opposites." Schelling saw opposites not as conflicting forces, but as complementary parts of a harmonious whole. For example, he saw light and darkness, heat and cold, and life and death as interconnected pairs. Each pair is necessary for the existence of the other, creating a balance in nature.

The Dynamic Process of Nature

Schelling also viewed nature as a dynamic process rather than a static state. He believed that everything in nature is in a constant state of change and evolution. This concept is quite different from the traditional view of nature as a collection of fixed, separate objects.

Understanding the Universe

For Schelling, understanding nature was the key to understanding the universe and our place in it. He believed that by studying the natural world, we could gain insights into the fundamental principles of the universe. This idea has had a profound influence on many fields, including the world of art. In the next section, we'll explore how Schelling's Naturphilosophie has influenced a specific form of art — Land Art.

Land Art: Definition and History

Now that we've dug into Schelling's Naturphilosophie, let's turn our attention to Land Art. What exactly is it, and how did it come to be? Well, prepare yourself to venture into a world where art and nature intertwine.

What is Land Art?

Land Art, also known as Earth Art or Environmental Art, is a form of contemporary art that emerged in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It's all about the direct engagement with nature and landscape. Artists create Land Art by altering the natural environment in an artistic way. This could involve moving rocks, digging holes, planting trees, or even creating structures with natural materials like wood or stone.

A Brief History of Land Art

Land Art originated in the United States, with artists like Robert Smithson, Richard Long, and Nancy Holt leading the way. These artists were looking for an alternative to the commercial art world of galleries and museums. They wanted to create art that was accessible to everyone and that interacted with the environment in a meaningful way. Thus, Land Art was born.

Land Art: A Response to the Times

The emergence of Land Art wasn't just an artistic movement—it was also a response to the social and political climate of the time. In the 1960s and 70s, people were becoming more aware of environmental issues. Land Art was a way for artists to draw attention to these issues and promote a deeper connection with the natural world.

The Legacy of Land Art

Fast forward to today, and Land Art continues to inspire artists and audiences alike. It's a reminder that art doesn't have to be confined to a canvas or a gallery—it can be as vast and as varied as the natural world itself. And as we'll see in the next section, Schelling's Naturphilosophie has played a significant role in shaping this unique art form.

How Schelling Naturphilosophie Influences Land Art

Having seen the roots of Land Art, let's now explore how Schelling's Naturphilosophie plays a role in influencing this art form.

Understanding Nature's Essence

One of the key aspects of Schelling's Naturphilosophie is the idea of understanding nature's essence, which is not just about observing nature, but truly grasping its inner workings. This understanding is mirrored in Land Art. When Land Artists create their works, they don't merely use nature as a backdrop—they actively engage with it, seeking to understand and reveal its essence through their art.

Nature as a Creative Force

In Schelling's Naturphilosophie, nature is seen as a creative force, constantly shaping and reshaping itself. This concept deeply resonates with Land Art. Artists often use natural processes like erosion, growth, and decay as part of their creative process, allowing nature to shape the final outcome of their works.

The Unity of Art and Nature

Schelling's Naturphilosophie emphasizes the unity of art and nature. In Land Art, this unity is made tangible. The art is not just in nature—it is part of nature, inseparable from the landscape in which it exists. This echoes Schelling's idea that art and nature are not separate entities, but different expressions of the same underlying reality.

Impact on Land Art Aesthetics

Schelling's Naturphilosophie has also influenced the aesthetics of Land Art. Schelling's idea that beauty arises from the interaction of opposing forces can be seen in the way Land Artists combine elements like order and chaos, permanence and transience, or natural and artificial in their works, creating a unique aesthetic that challenges conventional notions of beauty.

The Interconnection between Schelling Naturphilosophie and Land Art

Let's dive a little deeper into how Schelling's Naturphilosophie and Land Art are intertwined. It's not a one-way street; these two concepts feed off each other in a fascinating interplay.

Naturphilosophie as a Foundation for Land Art

Firstly, Schelling's Naturphilosophie serves as a philosophical foundation for Land Art. The principles of respecting and understanding nature, viewing it as a creative force, and the unity of art and nature are all integral to the philosophy of Land Art. Land Artists don't just make art in the landscape; they engage with it, revealing its essence and allowing it to be part of the creative process. Schelling's Naturphilosophie provides the philosophical grounding for this approach.

Land Art as an Expression of Naturphilosophie

Conversely, Land Art can also be seen as a practical expression of Schelling's Naturphilosophie. By creating art that is part of the landscape, that interacts with natural processes and attempts to reveal the essence of nature, Land Artists are putting Schelling's ideas into practice. In this sense, every piece of Land Art can be seen as a philosophical statement, a tangible manifestation of Naturphilosophie.

A Cycle of Influence

In the end, the relationship between Schelling's Naturphilosophie and Land Art is a cycle of influence. Schelling's ideas provide the philosophical basis for Land Art, and the resulting artworks in turn reinforce and illustrate these ideas. It's a beautiful dance of theory and practice, thought and action, philosophy and art.

Examples of Land Art inspired by Schelling Naturphilosophie

Let's take a look at some specific examples of Land Art that echo Schelling's Naturphilosophie. These artworks not only illustrate the principles of Schelling's philosophy, they also demonstrate the powerful impact of Land Art.

"Spiral Jetty" by Robert Smithson

One of the most iconic pieces of Land Art is "Spiral Jetty" by Robert Smithson. This massive coil of rock and earth extends into the Great Salt Lake in Utah, merging with the natural landscape in a way that perfectly exemplifies Schelling's idea of the unity of art and nature. The spiral shape, a common motif in nature, further reinforces this connection.

"Double Negative" by Michael Heizer

Another striking example is "Double Negative" by Michael Heizer. This massive earthwork consists of two deep trenches cut into the Nevada desert, using the natural landscape as both canvas and medium. In line with Schelling's Naturphilosophie, it's not about imposing a human vision on nature, but rather about revealing the inherent beauty and power of the natural landscape.

"Time Landscape" by Alan Sonfist

Lastly, let's consider "Time Landscape" by Alan Sonfist. This project involved the creation of a native forest in the heart of New York City, bringing nature back into an urban environment. This piece reminds us of Schelling's view of nature as a creative, dynamic force, and the importance of maintaining a connection with our natural environment.

In these examples, we can see Schelling's Naturphilosophie come to life in the world of Land Art. They demonstrate how art and nature can merge to create something truly unique and thought-provoking, reflecting the philosophical underpinnings of Schelling's work.

If you enjoyed exploring the interconnections between Schelling's Naturphilosophie and Land Art and want to learn more about incorporating nature into your creative practice, check out the workshop 'Using Nature and Photography as a Form of Meditation' by Louis Bever. This workshop will guide you on how to use nature and photography as a form of meditation, helping you find inspiration and tranquility in the natural world.