Robert Smithson / Edition 1

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Overview


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 Other contributions to the volume are a previously unpublished interview with Smithson by Moira Roth; a substantive historical and critical essay by Thomas Crow; an essay by MOCA curator Cornelia Butler discussing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

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Editorial Reviews

Christopher Benfey
An autodidact who never went to college, Smithson -- expertly discussed in Robert Smithson -- drew on his prodigious reading, from his pediatrician (the doctor-poet William Carlos Williams) to visionary artists such as William Blake and William Butler Yeats. His early paintings were incendiary celebrations of Dante's inferno and Roman Catholicism. Moving, as Eugenie Tsai, a critic and an editor of this exhibition catalog, says, ''from theology to geology,'' Smithson became a modern-day mound builder in both earthworks and words. Richard Sieburth aptly describes Smithson's handwritten work ''A Heap of Language'' as a ''verbal tumulus'' of synonyms for language, ''built not from the bottom up but from the top down.''
The New York Times
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520244092
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 9/27/2004
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 280
  • Product dimensions: 9.25 (w) x 11.00 (h) x 0.88 (d)

Meet the Author


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).
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Table of Contents


Foreword
Acknowledgments
Introduction
--Eugenie Tsai

Cosmic Exile: Turns in the Life and Art of Robert Smithson
--Thomas Crow

The Taste of Time: Salt and the Spiral Jetty
--Jennifer Roberts

Towards “a new type of building”: Robert Smithson’s Architectural Criticism
--Mark Linder

Enantiomorphic Models
--Ann Reynolds

In the Yucatan: Mirroring Presence and Absence
--Suzaan Boettger

Robert Smithson’s Proposal for Monument at Antarctica
--Robert Sobieszek

“A Heap of Language”: Robert Smithson and American Hieroglyphics
--Richard Sieburth

The Catalogue of Robert Smithson’s Library
--Alexander Alberro

The Library List

Beyond Duchamp: An Interview with Robert Smithson
--Moira Roth

A Lurid Presence: Smithson’s Legacy and Post-Studio Art
--Cornelia Butler

Checklist of the Exhibition
Exhibition Chronology

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