LOL was sad to learn of the passing of Walter De Maria last week. While he created significant installations like the New York Earth Room and The Lightning Field (that was immortalised on the cover of Robert Hughes’ key tome American Visions), he’s lesser known for his forays into music. Heavily entrenched in all manner of 1960s ‘happenings’ in New York, De Maria played with Lou Reed and John Cale in a band called the Primitives, who later went on to become the Velvet Underground.
In a 1972 interview with the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art De Maria described the tug between art and music: “I could have stayed with that band…it was a beautiful, really great band…And it was very tiring to bring all the drums around, and then after playing all night, you couldn’t do anything during the day. I thought, are you going to play or are you going to do the sculpture? You know, are you going to be an artist or a musician?”
Obviously he chose the former, but for a taste of De Maria’s musical side, have a listen to this 1966 recording of ‘Ostrich’, by the Primitives (above).