This fully illustrated 248-page book accompanies the first comprehensive American retrospective of Robert Smithson's (1938–1973) complex and highly influential career. Straddling the movements of minimalism and land art, Smithson, who died in a plane crash at the age of 35, had a profound impact on the cultural landscape that resonates to this day. Robert Smithson presents essays by top Smithson scholars alongside both archival imagery and specially commissioned photography of the artist's works; it considers the interrelationship of Smithson's complete artistic output, from the earliest figurative work up to his famed earthworks. Smithson's revolutionary ideas positioned art as existing beyond the walls of the museum in media such as writing and film, and even in the landscape itself. This volume and the exhibition it accompanies explore Smithson's work within the context of the artistic climate of the late 1960s as well as ensuing decades.
Perhaps most renowned as the creator of Spiral Jetty (1970), a fifteen-hundred-foot rock coil dramatically situated in the Great Salt Lake, Smithson also broke new ground with his films, photographs, writing, drawings, and collages. Eugenie Tsai provides a curatorial overview of the exhibition, which includes early writings, drawings, and other work with religious, erotic, and pop culture motifs that deepen our understanding of Smithson's diverse practice. Other contributions to the volume are a previously unpublished interview with Smithson by Moira Roth; a substantive historical and critical essay by Thomas Crow; an essay by MOCA curator Cornelia Butler discussing Smithson's lineage and his influence on contemporary artists; and a series of texts focusing on key works from Smithson's oeuvre, including Incidents of Mirror Travel in the Yucatan by Suzaan Boettger, Enantiomorphic Chambers by Ann Reynolds, Airport Terminal Project by Mark Linder, Spiral Jetty by Jennifer Roberts, Heap of Language by Richard Sieburth, Proposal for Monument at Antartica [sic] by Robert Sobieszek. The book also features the complete Library List—a posthumously compiled list of publications in Smithson's personal library—with an introduction by Alexander Alberro, as well as an exhibition checklist and annotated exhibition chronology.
With contributions by Alexander Alberro, Suzaan Boettger, Cornelia Butler, Thomas Crow, Mark Linder, Ann Reynolds, Jennifer L. Roberts, Moira Roth, Richard Sieburth, Robert A. Sobieszek, and Eugenie Tsai
Cosmic Exile: Turns in the Life and Art of Robert Smithson
The Taste of Time: Salt and the Spiral Jetty
Towards “a new type of building”: Robert Smithson’s Architectural Criticism
In the Yucatan: Mirroring Presence and Absence
Robert Smithson’s Proposal for Monument at Antarctica
“A Heap of Language”: Robert Smithson and American Hieroglyphics
The Catalogue of Robert Smithson’s Library
The Library List
Beyond Duchamp: An Interview with Robert Smithson
A Lurid Presence: Smithson’s Legacy and Post-Studio Art
Checklist of the Exhibition
Eugenie Tsai is a critic and independent curator. Formerly Senior Curator and Associate Director for Curatorial Affairs at the Whitney Museum of American Art, she organized exhibitions and artists' projects for the museum and its branches and oversaw the permanent collection. She is the author of Robert Smithson Unearthed (1991).