Annual Rings

Artist: Dennis Oppenheim (American, Electric City, Washington 1938–2011 New York)

Date: 1968

Medium: Gelatin silver print(s), ink on paper, photomechanical prints, wax crayon

Dimensions: 101.6 x 76.2cm (40 x 30in.)
Frame: 106.7 × 81.3 cm (42 × 32 in.)

Classifications: Collages, Photographs, Prints

Credit Line: Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift, through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 1999

Accession Number: 1999.212

Rights and Reproduction: © Dennis Oppenheim Estate


During the 1960s, a number of artists-including Oppenheim, Robert Smithson, and Walter De Maria-sought to liberate sculpture from the pedestals of the museum and made work that was inextricably bound to its site. In this piece, Oppenheim enlarged the patterns of the tree's growth and, by shoveling pathways in the snow, transposed the annual rings to the frozen waterway that divides the United States and Canada and also divides their time zones. By juxtaposing man-made national and temporal boundaries, Oppenheim opened to question the relative values of the ordering systems by which we live.