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Profile: Robert Smithson
Affiliated Movements: Conceptual Art,Minimalism, Contemporary Art. , Earth Art

Affiliated Artists:
Walter De Maria
Michael Heizer
Jan Dibbets
Gordon Matta-Clark
James Turrell

photo credit: jack robinson

* The placement of other artists in the same category is purely for didactic purposes - any number alternate criteria could result in a different choice. This list is chosen by suggesting other artists, mostly working at the same point in time and whose work might evoke similar questions in the viewer.

André Breton- condensation cube


mark tansey- smithson's spiral jetty & indian group in foreground
Mark Tansey, Purity Test, 1991. (Smithson's most 'popular' work Spiral Jetty shown in background)

If it can be said that Marcel Duchamp is the grandfather or great grandfather of Conceputal Art, and Yves Klein it's father, then Robert Smithson must, at the very least be it's first practitioner. It is Smithson's work that the label of Conceptual Art was coined for - perhaps more than any other. Smithso was directly involved in the 'Land Art' movement of the late 60s to mid-70s, whose other players included Walter De Maria, Michael Heizer, Mary Miss, etc... though Smithson's interest always seemed to oblique to the concerns of the others in this group - often making internal references where the others were 'external'. A prime example of this is his Mirror Displacement series. While the mirrors themselves reflect an image of their environment and of the sun, what is clear and distinct from the others' work is their objecthood and their formal arrangement independent of the space of their surroundings. Smithson confirmed this by moving some of these relationships into the art gallery .
robert smithson - ithaca mirror trail, 1969Robert Smithson - Ithaca Mirror Trail, 1969.

Anish Kapoor - collateralSpiral Jetty - Aerial Photograph Anish Kapoor - state of the unionAntarktis Circular Map, 1967



Wikipedia Entry for Robert Smithson
Biography on artist's website
Essays by Robert Smithson

Other Media

written and edited by JWD


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