Ephemeral, organic, thoughtful. Andy Goldsworthy’s iconic art is famous around the world for interpreting the subtle shifts of place and time. While many of his creations are in far-away places, Goldsworthy has created three stunning and distinct pieces in the Presidio, where people and the environment are constantly influencing each other.
Spire and Wood Line are inspired by the park’s historic forest, planted by the Army beginning in the 1880s and being rejuvenated today. The cypress, pine, and eucalyptus groves have become part of the park’s natural mosaic, where hawks perch and humans find shade. Spire and Wood Line help visitors see the trees with fresh eyes. A third installation, Tree Fall, explores the interplay between the Presidio's natural and built environments. It opens inside the historic Powder Magazine on the Main Post (Building 95 - next to the Main Parade Ground) on October 19, 2013.
The pieces were funded through private donations and are sponsored by the FOR-SITE Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to the creation, understanding, and exhibition of art about place, in partnership with the Presidio Trust.
In 2006, Andy Goldsworthy visited the Presidio and saw an opportunity to celebrate the lifecycle of the historic forest, planted over a very short time in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The groves are now reaching the end of their lifespan and require renewal.
Aging Monterey cypress trees taken down to allow for young plantings were given new purpose in Goldsworthy’s Spire. The sculpture was constructed in 2008 in a beloved grove near the Arguello Gate. It is comprised of 38 large cypress trunks, fastened meticulously together. At its zenith, Spire reaches more than 90 feet to the sky. Even this great height will not keep Spire from experiencing the changes of time. Young trees growing at its base will slowly obscure the sculpture.
Spire recalls one of Goldsworthy’s earliest works, Memories, also spires of mature trees, created in 1984 in the Grizedale Forest in the Lake District of North West England. Goldsworthy said, “I have not found another great location for this type of work until now.”
In 2010, Goldsworthy looked to a new part of the park for inspiration - an historic eucalyptus grove near the Presidio’s oldest footpath, Lovers’ Lane. Eucalyptus were planted here by the U.S. Army more than a century ago, with lines of cypress trees occasionally weaved in among the regimented rows. Outcompeted, the cypress declined, leaving a large gap in the grove.
Goldsworthy fills this empty space with a quiet and graceful sculpture. Where Spire reaches for the stars, Wood Line flows elegantly into the valley of the Tennessee Hollow Watershed. To create the piece, Goldsworthy laid eucalyptus branches on the ground to form a sinuous line that, in his words, “draws the place.” The wood was sourced from various Presidio projects that required tree removal, including Doyle Drive reconstruction, environmental remediation, and habitat restoration.
Wood Line is located within the cypress grove near the intersection of Presidio Boulevard and West Pacific Avenue, just off Lovers’ Lane.
Tree Fall is the first Presidio Goldsworthy installation to be created indoors. Its backdrop is the historic Powder Magazine, constructed on the Main Post during the Civil War. The petite structure protected gun powder and munitions and is made up of four-foot-thick stone walls. The building was used to store the blank rounds for the daily 5 pm evening gun salute until 1994 when the Army departed the post.
While Spire articulates the space into which trees grow and Wood Line investigates the relationship of a tree to the earth, Tree Fall explores what occurs beneath the ground. The sculpture is comprised of a tree trunk removed as part of the Presidio Parkway project, suspended inside the building so that the sculpture does not touch or alter the historic walls. The trunk and the domed ceiling were covered with clay, also from the Presidio, that dried and cracked into a beautiful organic pattern. The sculpture illustrates the relationship between the natural and built environments.
Tree Fall Hours
Drop-in docent tours every Saturday and Sunday from 10 am to 4 pm
New: First Friday Tours (October 2, November 6, December 4, 11 am to 2 pm) - offered by staff from the FOR-SITE Foundation
Weekdays by appointment---call (415) 561-2767
View more on Tree Fall, including a video featuring Goldsworthy describing the making of the installation >>(video produced by the FOR-SITE Foundation)
Earth Wall pays homage to the rich archaeological setting of the Presidio Officers’ Club. It was built with materials taken from the site—earth from the Officers’ Club rehabilitation and eucalyptus branches from the Presidio forest. It is located behind the Hardie Courtyard.
Earth Wall Hours
Earth Wall is open to the public during the Presidio Officers' Club hours of operation:
Tuesdays through Sundays, 10 am to 6 pm
Tours of Earth Wall
Saturdays at noon, meet at the Presidio Officers’ Club front desk for a 30-minute tour describing the making of Andy Goldsworthy’s most recent addition to the Presidio.
About Andy Goldsworthy
Andy Goldsworthy was born in 1956 and spent his childhood in Yorkshire, England. Goldsworthy’s work has been made in the open air in places as diverse as the Yorkshire Dales, the North Pole, and the Australian Outback. His works in the Bay Area include Stone River at Stanford University, made from the rubble left after the Loma Prieta earthquake, and Drawn Stone at the De Young Museum in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, which also recalls San Francisco’s earthquakes and their effects.
Goldsworthy draws his inspiration from places and creates art from the materials found close at hand, such as twigs, leaves, stones, snow, and ice, striving “to make connections between what we call nature and what we call man-made.”