This Big Crack In The Ground Is Actually A Work Of Art Hidden In Plain Sight

Jamie Ferrell Jamie Ferrell

This Big Crack In The Ground Is Actually A Work Of Art Hidden In Plain Sight

Have you seen this long crack running through the de Young Museum’s courtyard?

At first glance, it might look like a simple break in the stone. The result of a California earthquake, perhaps. But in fact, this curious crack in the ground at the de Young Museum is actually a meticulously planned, symbolic art piece by legendary English artist Andy Goldsworthy.

Credit: rocor via Flickr

If you’ve spent enough time in San Francisco, you might have heard of Andy Goldsworthy, as he’s a prolific artist with a number of famous sculptures in the Presidio. But you may not be familiar with Drawn Stone. This large man-made crack cuts through 8 large stone blocks, which double as outdoor seating. They are actually a type of sandstone called Appleton Greenmore that comes from Goldsworthy’s native Yorkshire, England.

According to the placard placed near the artwork, Goldsworthy found the stone’s journey from his hometown to be quite significant. “Stone and people making the same journey is for me a powerful expression of movement and of the great upheavals and displacements that have occurred to both,” he is quoted as saying.

Credit: rocor via Flickr

This continuous crack runs “north from the edge of the Music Concourse roadway in front of the museum, up the main walkway, into the exterior courtyard, and up to the main entrance door,” according to the de Young Museum website.


The work was inspired by California’s “tectonic topography;” in other words, earthquake fault lines. Goldsworthy, who often works with natural materials, enjoys blurring the lines between what is natural and what is man-made. He often arranges natural materials such as stone and wood in a way that is just outside of the realm of possibility in nature.

Credit: Phil Dokas via Flickr

Goldsworthy is responsible for a number of other artworks made from natural materials, all of which are located in San Francisco’s Presidio:

  • Spire: A 100-foot tall wooden taper, symbolizing the rejuvenation of the Presidio’s forests.
  • Wood Line: A line of branches snaking through the eucalyptus grove near Lover’s Lane.
  • Tree Fall: A root sculpture located into the Army’s old gunpowder storage house. Temporarily closed, accessible via docent-led tours.
  • Earth Wall: A six-foot, spherical sculpture located in the Presidio Officer’s Club.

Next time you make it out to the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park, keep an eye out for Drawn Stone, a work of art hidden in plain sight!


Featured image: rocor via Flickr

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