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Walter De Maria, The Vertical Earth Kilometer

Friedrichsplatz Park
Kassel, Germany

A grassy park featuring four red-dirt paths that intersect at a square silver plate flush to the ground.

Walter De Maria, The Vertical Earth Kilometer, 1977. © The Estate of Walter De Maria. Photo: Nic Tenwiggenhorn


The Vertical Earth Kilometer (1977), located in the Friedrichsplatz Park in Kassel, Germany, is a one-kilometer-long solid brass round rod five centimeters (two inches) in diameter, its full length inserted into the ground with its top reaching flush to the surface of the earth. A red sandstone plate, two meters by two meters square, surrounds the brass rod’s flat circular top, positioning the circle directly in the square’s center. In front of the museum Fridericianum are four footpaths whose intersection marks the sculpture’s location.

As a companion piece to this permanently installed earth sculpture, De Maria created The Broken Kilometer (1979), located at 393 West Broadway in New York City. This work is composed of five hundred two-meter-long solid brass rods, each with the same diameter as the rod used for The Vertical Earth Kilometer, arranged in five parallel rows of one hundred rods each.

The Vertical Earth Kilometer was realized through the help of Documenta VI, Director Dr. Manfred Schneckenberger, and the support of Dia Art Foundation. Technical direction and supervision was carried out by the engineering firm of Dr. Hans Jurgen Pickel, Kassel. The work has been on long-term view to the public since 1977.

Art: The Vertical Earth Kilometer, 1977


Walter De Maria

Walter De Maria was born in Albany, California, in 1935. He died in Los Angeles in 2013.

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Artists on Walter De Maria

Artists on Walter De Maria is the second installment in a series culled from Dia Art Foundation’s Artists on Artists lectures, focused on the work of artist Walter De Maria. It features contributions from Richard Aldrich, Jeanne Dunning, Guillermo Faivovich and Nicolás Goldberg, and Terry Winters.

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