Robert Smithson: Learning from New Jersey and Elsewhere

Overview

Robert Smithson (1938-1973) produced his best-known work during the 1960s and early 1970s, a period in which the boundaries of the art world and the objectives of art-making were questioned perhaps more consistently and thoroughly than any time before or since. In Robert Smithson: Learning from New Jersey and Elsewhere, Ann Reynolds elucidates the complexity of Smithson's work and thought by placing them in their historical context, a context greatly enhanced by the vast archival materials that Smithson's widow, ...
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Overview

Robert Smithson (1938-1973) produced his best-known work during the 1960s and early 1970s, a period in which the boundaries of the art world and the objectives of art-making were questioned perhaps more consistently and thoroughly than any time before or since. In Robert Smithson: Learning from New Jersey and Elsewhere, Ann Reynolds elucidates the complexity of Smithson's work and thought by placing them in their historical context, a context greatly enhanced by the vast archival materials that Smithson's widow, Nancy Holt, donated to the Archives of American Art in 1987. The archive provides Reynolds with the remnants of Smithson's working life - magazines, postcards from other artists, notebooks, and perhaps most important, his library - from which she reconstructs the physical and conceptual world that Smithson inhabited. Reynolds explores the relation of Smithson's art-making, thinking about art-making, writing, and interaction with other artists to the articulated ideology and discreet assumptions that determined the parameters of artistic practice of the time.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Basing her study of leading Sixties artist Robert Smithson (1938-73) on a collection of his personal papers and his library, which were donated in 1987 to the Smithsonian Institution's Archives of American Art, Reynolds (art & art history, Univ. of Texas, Austin) focuses on the historical and ideological thinking of the 1960s and early 1970s in an effort to delineate Smithson's complexity, both artistically and philosophically. Smithson challenged the established art world's narrow vision and limited boundaries: for him, New Jersey became the prototype of "elsewhere," a place where he could create works for specific sites while engaging the outside, natural world in the creative process. Reynolds allows the reader to follow Smithson's process of creation through his own notebooks and sketches, his interviews and articles, the images he clipped from magazines, and the photographs he took. This admirable project, however, is studded with jargon and an idiosyncratic approach that may baffle the reader. Extensive notes and epigraphs are included, and the bibliography lists Smithson's library, itself a fascinating study of the artist. For large academic art collections. If Reynolds takes a focused look at one of the major artists of the 1960s, art critic and historian Boettger turns a wide-angle lens upon the era's Earthworks movement and its exponents. His chronological survey covers the early Claes Oldenburg Hole dug in Central Park (1967), the pivotal Dwan Gallery exhibition of Earthworks a year later, and the turbulent artistic, political, and philosophical activities of the late part of the decade. In the process, she touches on Smithson as both stimulus and catalyst for the movement. During this period, there was great ambivalence about the purity of art, the need for a market to support it, and the juxtaposition of the minimalist vision with the monumental effect of the works. With clarity and insight, the author traces the careers of the artists and their relationships to their work, one another, and the world of art critics and dealers. The result is a remarkable combination of insight and intellectual enthusiasm that, rare in a scholarly work, is easily accessible and a pleasure to read. With 12 color and 99 black-and-white images; highly recommended for all art collections, academic libraries, and large public collections as well.-Paula Frosch, Metropolitan Museum of Art Lib., New York Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
From the Publisher
"A useful and thoroughly entertaining book." Carter Ratcliff Art in America
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780262182270
  • Publisher: MIT Press
  • Publication date: 6/8/2003
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 8.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Ann Reynolds is Associate Professor of Art and Art History at the University of Texas, Austin.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Preface
Introduction: Culture as a Way of Seeing 1
1 Perceiving Abstraction 13
The Alogons 15
Abstraction's Ambiguities 31
The Lessons of Optical Art 45
Perceptual Enantiomorphs 59
2 New Jersey 77
The Crystal Land 79
Perspective: The Metropolis 83
A Guide to the Monuments of Passaic 100
3 Travel as Repetition 123
A Cartographic Premise 125
The Terminal View 134
Yucatan Is Elsewhere 163
4 Dirt as Disorder 193
Buried Architecture 195
Trespassing 205
Image Crisis 215
Notes 236
Robert Smithson's Library 297
Illustration Credits 346
Index 354
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