(1938 – 1973), USA

Robert Smithson Biography

Born in Passaic, New Jersey, Robert Smithson (2 January 1938–20 July 1973), spent his formative years in New Jersey. In 1963 he married the artist Nancy Holt (1938–2014), who managed the Estate of Robert Smithson from 1973–2014, and who literally willed Holt/Smithson Foundation into being.

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Smithson is best known for his earthworks Spiral Jetty (1970), Broken Circle/Spiral Hill (1971), and Amarillo Ramp (1973). Prior these earthworks Smithson created performative entropic land works, such as the ephemeral sculptures Asphalt Rundown (1969, Rome), Glue Pour (1969, Vancouver), Concrete Pour (1969, Chicago), and Partially Buried Woodshed (1970, Kent State) speak poignantly to issues of time and the human condition.

Smithson’s first solo exhibition, with emphasis on what he described as ‘expressionistic work’, took place in 1957 at Allan Brilliant’s gallery in New York. The artist’s peripatetic life took him to Rome in 1961, when George Lester offered him his first solo international exhibition at Galleria George Lester, where he explored quasi-religious subject matter. His early paintings, drawings and sculptures made between 1961 and 1963 were imbued with references to concrete poetry, popular culture, and science fiction. Influenced by minimalism, in 1964 Smithson declared his quasi-minimal sculptures made from industrial materials of metal and mirrored Plexiglas as his ‘mature’ works, distancing himself from his early expressionistic paintings and drawings.

Smithson’s writings on art, western culture, graphic texts, and interviews, are published in The Writings of Robert Smithson, edited by Nancy Holt (1979, New York University Press, with an expanded version edited by Jack Flam published in 1998). His works are in numerous museum collections, including the Art Institute of Chicago, Dia Art Foundation, Museum of Modern Art New York, National Museum of Modern Art Tokyo, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and Whitney Museum of American Art.

Text courtesy Marian Goodman Gallery.

Robert Smithson Featured Artworks

Untitled by Robert Smithson contemporary artwork sculpture
Robert Smithson Untitled, 1966 Painted metal
38.1 x 38.1 x 38.1 cm
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Untitled by Robert Smithson contemporary artwork works on paper
Robert Smithson Untitled, 1967 Photocopy on paper in frame
20.3 x 20.3 cm
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Island with Forking Peninsulas in Shallow Water by Robert Smithson contemporary artwork works on paper, drawing
Robert Smithson Island with Forking Peninsulas in Shallow Water, 1971 Ink on paper
30.5 x 22.9 cm
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Wandering Canal with Mounds by Robert Smithson contemporary artwork works on paper, drawing
Robert Smithson Wandering Canal with Mounds, 1971 Pencil on paper
48.3 x 61 cm
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Untitled by Robert Smithson contemporary artwork works on paper, sculpture
Robert Smithson Untitled, 1967 Paint, tape, paper
14.6 x 26 x 20.3 cm
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Concrete Juggernaut [Boston Project] by Robert Smithson contemporary artwork works on paper, drawing
Robert Smithson Concrete Juggernaut [Boston Project], c. 1970 Pencil on paper
48.3 x 61 cm
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Entropic Steps by Robert Smithson contemporary artwork works on paper, drawing
Robert Smithson Entropic Steps, 1970 Pencil on paper
48.3 x 61 cm
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Torn Photograph from the Second Stop (Rubble): Second Mountain of Six Stops on a Section by Robert Smithson contemporary artwork print
Robert Smithson Torn Photograph from the Second Stop (Rubble): Second Mountain of Six Stops on a Section, 1970 4-colour offset lithograph on paper, torn in 4 pieces
54.6 x 54.6 cm
Marian Goodman Gallery Contact Gallery

Robert Smithson Recent Exhibitions

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Robert Smithson Represented By

Marian Goodman Gallery contemporary art gallery in New York, USA Marian Goodman Gallery London, New York, Paris

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