Walking Timeline – PDF

Walkers throughout history:

Wandering mystics/monks, philosophers, medieval craftspeople, scholars, romantic poets, seekers of support/truth (ideas/skills/words/causes), traveling doctors, itinerant musicians, contemporary journalists

Artist/writers/thinkers have, for centuries, championed walking and travel as both physically/emotionally rewarding


  • 1702
    • Matsuo Bashō publishes Oku-no-hosomichi [Narrow Road to the Deep North] – a travelogue of poetry and prose reflecting on 5-month walking journey around Japan
  • 1780s-1850s
    • Romantic colonial long walks (Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Dorothy and William Wordsworth, Henry David Thoreau
  • Mid to late 1800’s

    • The terms of flânerie date to the 16th or 17th century, denoting strolling, idling, often with the connotation of wasting time. But it was in the 19th century that a rich set of meanings and definitions surrounding the flâneur took shape.
  • 1920s

    • Dada/Surrealists were planning excursions and walks
  • 1950s

    • Situationists develop the dérive (drift)
    • Performative action in contemporary artistic practice stems from postwar art-making (there was a dramatic shift in the 1950s).
  • 1958

    • Allan Kaprow establishes the idea of the happening (a call/invitation for artists to abandon object-based practices for limitless investigation of relationships between ideas/acts/everyday life)
  • Mid-1960s

    • Photo/Video allowed capturing of these events
  • 1960s-70s

    • experimental practices (conceptual performance, land art, process art, readymades, found materials, joining of art and life)
    • Examples: 
      • >>> Fluxus – street theatre, tours, impromptu performances (George Maciunas, George Brecht, Yoko Ono, Mieko Shiomi, Nam June Paik)
      • >>> Art Povera in Italy – use of humble materials to free oneself from conventions of art market and corporatization of art – disavow singular maker.
      • >>> Land Art – developed out of Minimalism in 1966-67
  • 1970s-today
    • > Several exhibitions have been staged with a focus on walking as artistic practice
    • > Examples:
      • >>> Wanderlust: Actions, Traces, Journeys 1967 – 2017
      • >>> Walking Sculpture 1967-2015 
      • >>> Walk On: From Richard Long to Janet Cardiff — 40 Years of Art Walking (2013)
      • >>> Artists’ Walks: The Persistence of Peripateticism (2013)
      • >>> Walking and Thinking and Walking (1996)
      • >>> Walk Ways (2002)