Jan Dibbets

Dutch, born 1941

Big Comet 3°-60° Land/Sky/Land

© Jan Dibbets / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / DACS, London

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Big Comet 3°-60° Land/Sky/Land, 1973 (reprinted 2007)

Artwork Details


set of twenty Endura chromogenic color prints mounted on wood


each (framed): 27 1/2 x 39 3/8 inches (69.85 x 100.01 cm); overall: 177 1/8 x 236 1/4 inches (449.9 x 600.08 cm)

Collection Buffalo AKG Art Museum


The Panza Collection and by exchange: George B. and Jenny R. Mathews Fund, Bequest of Arthur B. Michael, Albert H. Tracy Fund and Bequest of John Mortimer Schiff, 2015

Accession ID


Each of the twenty photographs in Jan Dibbets’s Big Comet 3º–60º Land/Sky/Land features a single image of the horizon taken at a precise angle, beginning at three degrees and ending at sixty degrees. Each photograph, in fact, consists of the same image doubled, with the right-hand copy flipped so that the ground is at the top. When these image pairs are placed together and the sections of blue-gray sky are connected, they form a single curved arc, evoking the shape of a comet’s tail. Although Dibbets began his career as a painter, in 1967 he started to create work outside of the studio, turning to the camera as the best tool to document his interventions in the landscape. In the early 1970s, the horizon became one of his central themes. Resisting the desire to take a “good” photograph in which the horizon is stable and anchors the image, Dibbets systematically adjusted the angle at which his photographs were taken, turning the horizon into a series of diagonal rather than horizontal lines. In Big Comet, Dibbets adopts this process to turn a humble, even banal image of the landscape into a spectacular celestial body.

Label from Looking at Tomorrow: Light and Language from The Panza Collection, 1967–1990, October 24, 2015–February 7, 2016