Robert Smithson

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Biography

For over fifty years Robert Smithson's work and ideas have influenced artists and thinkers, building the ground from which contemporary art has grown.

Born in Passaic, New Jersey, Robert Smithson (1938 - 1973) is an artist who recalibrated the possibilities of art. For over fifty years his work and ideas have influenced artists and thinkers, building the ground from which contemporary art has grown. An autodidact, Smithson's interests in travel, cartography, geology, architectural ruins, prehistory, philosophy, science-fiction, popular culture, and language spiral through his work. He was fascinated by concepts of duality, entropy, and questions of how we might find our place in the world. In his short and prolific life, Smithson produced paintings, drawings, sculptures, architectural schemes, films, photographs, writings, earthworks, and all the stops in between. From his landmark earthworks, Sprial Jetty (1970) and Partially Buried Woodshed (1970), which celebrate their fiftieth anniversary this year to his 'quasi-minimalist' sculptures, nonsites, writings, projects and proposals, collages, detailed drawings, and radical rethinking of landscape, Smithson's ideas are profoundly urgent for our times. 

Smithson's 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 the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Recently his work has been in solo exhibitions at the University of Queensland, Brisbane (2018); Montclair Museum of Art, New Jersey (2014); Dallas Museum of Art, Texas (2013); Reykjavik Art Museum, Iceland (2012); and Center for Visual Arts, Emmen, Netherlands (2011). In 2004 an important retrospective opened at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, California, traveled to the Dallas Museum of Art, Texas, and ended at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York in 2005.

For over fifty years Robert Smithson's work and ideas have influenced artists and thinkers, building the ground from which contemporary art has grown.

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