The Foundation

Nancy Holt (1938-2014) and Robert Smithson (1938-1973) transformed the world of art and ideas. Holt/Smithson Foundation develops their distinctive creative legacies. Collaborating with artists, writers, thinkers, and institutions, Holt/Smithson Foundation realizes exhibitions, publishes books, initiates artist commissions, programs educational events, encourages research, and develops collections globally from its headquarters in New Mexico.

Biographies

Nancy Holt

1938—2014

Nancy Holt (April 5, 1938 – February 8, 2014) was a member of the earth, land, and conceptual art movements. A pioneer of site-specific installation and the moving image, Holt recalibrated the limits of art. She expanded the places where art could be found and embraced the new media of her time. Across five decades she asked questions about how we might understand our place in the world, investigating perception, systems, and place.

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Nancy Holt

Robert Smithson

1938—1973

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 New Jersey in 1938, Smithson' early interests in cartography, geology, prehistory, philosophy, science-fiction, and language spiral through his work. From his landmark earthworks to his “quasi-minimalist” sculptures, Nonsites, writings, proposals, collages, drawings, and radical rethinking of landscape, Smithson's ideas are profoundly urgent for our times. 

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Robert Smithson
a young man seated on a rock with the Colosseum in Rome in the background
Year: 1961

Smithson at the Colosseum in Rome, in 1961. This photograph was taken during Smithson's first visit to Rome when George Lester offered him his first solo international exhibition at Galleria George Lester, where he explored quasi-religious subject matter. 

Poster with text in upper left and pen and ink drawing of angels, monsters, and horses interacting
Year: 1962

An exhibition poster for Robert Smithson's 1962 solo exhibition at Richard Castellane Gallery,  New York, NY. This was the first of Smithson's two solo exhibitions with Castellane Gallery in 1962.

 24 x 18 in. (61 x46 cm.)

black and white photograph of a man and woman sitting on floral pattern sofa. Man has his arm around the woman and she is looking at the camera.
Year: 1963

Nancy Holt and Robert Smithson marry in New York on June 8, 1963.  This photograph of them was taken on Christmas, 1963.

Nancy Holt standing by shore of lake with sunglasses on and short brown hair.
Year: 1968

Nancy Holt visits the American West for the first time with Smithson and Michael Heizer. Shoots film Mono Lake with Smithson and Heizer at California’s Mono Lake.

Photo: Michael Heizer

Two men in swimsuits leaned over pushing a tree stump on a sandy beach.
Year: 1969

Robert Rauschenberg helps Smithson drag a tree out of the water and onto the beach on Captiva Island, Florida, in order to create Smithson's Upside Down Tree II.

Nancy Holt's face reflected in a circular mirror
Year: 1973

Nancy Holt first presents her installation work Holes of Light in a solo exhibition at the LoGiudice Gallery.

Three figures standing at the site of Amarillo Ramp in Texas
Year: 1973

While photographing Amarillo Ramp, Smithson dies in a small airplane accident, along with pilot Gale Ray Rogers and photographer Richard I. Curtin. Richard Serra, Nancy Holt, and Tony Shafrazi complete Amarillo Ramp one month after his passing.

Nancy Holt standing inside one of the Sun Tunnels, a large concrete cylinder in the desert
Year: 1976

Holt completes construction of her most discussed work, Sun Tunnels in Utah’s Great Basin Desert.  

Nancy Holt standing in a circular hole at her work Stone Enclosure: Rock Rings
Year: 1978

Working with Professor Lawrence Hanson and stonemason Al Poynter among others, Holt constructs Stone Enclosure: Rock Rings at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington.

A series of interconnected steel conduit and lightbulbs in a room.
Year: 1982

Holt constructs and exhibits her first Electrical System works: Electrical System (For Thomas Edison) and Electrical System II: Bellman Circuit [pictured].

Nancy Holt sitting in an old juniper tree in New Mexico
Year: 1995

Nancy Holt moves to Galisteo, New Mexico.

Photo: Lucy Lippard, 1998

large earthwork sculpture made using earth, concrete, water, and grass with people moving around on top of it.
Year: 1998

Holt completes a major earthwork in Nokia, Finland titled Up and Under. 

Nancy Holt, Up and Under (1987-98)

Location: Pinsiö, Finland

Materials: sand, concrete, topsoil, grass, water

Overall surface area: 14 acres (5.7 hectares)

Mound: height ranges from 11 to 26 ft. (3.5 to 8 m), with a length of 630 ft. (192 m)

Tunnels: length 241 ft. (74 m), with a diameter of 10 ft. (3 m)

Orientation: using the North Star as true North, the tunnels are on north-south and east-west axes

© Holt/Smithson Foundation/licensed by VAGA at ARS, New York

A large white walled room with benches and projected images on two hanging screens and images on the wall.
Year: 2010

From 2010 through 2012 the retrospective exhibition Nancy Holt: Sightlines (curated by Alena J. Williams) travels from the Wallach Art Gallery, Columbia University to Badischer Kunstverein in Karlsruhe, Tufts University Art Gallery in Boston, the Graham Foundation in Chicago, Santa Fe Arts Institute, and the Utah Museum of Fine Arts in Salt Lake City.

Photograph: Stephan Baumann

Announcements

Mundus Subeterraneus

Jan 13 – Feb 24, 2024
Solo Exhibition

Opening Saturday January 13, 18:00 - 20:00 with lecture-performance with Professor Adrian Rifkin at 18:00

Marian Goodman Gallery and Holt/Smithson Foundation are pleased to announce the exhibition Robert Smithson: Mundus Subterraneus, open from January 13 through February 24, 2024. Developed with Professor Adrian Rifkin, this exhibition focuses on Smithson’s works on paper made in the early 1960s, presenting drawings and collages that set the ground for his studies of entropy and the fall of modernism. Many of these drawings have never previously been seen.

Chapter Six of Tuesday Texts

We are happy to announce that throughout January we will be publishing a sixth chapter of our Tuesday Text Series as part of our ongoing Scholarly Text Program, which invites thinkers to focus on a single artwork by Holt and/or Smithson. This chapter of Tuesday Texts will focus on artworks by Robert Smithson.

Every Tuesday we will publish a text to our website that includes images selected by the author, a short bibliography, citation reference, and endnotes pointing to the author’s references.

Nancy Holt: Circles of Light

Mar 21 – Jul 25, 2024
Solo Exhibition

Experiments with Sound, Image, Objects 1966 – 1986

On the vernal equinox, this solo exhibition pays particular attention to Holt’s incorporation of the earth's rotation, astronomy, and time and place into her sculptures. Presenting audioworks, film, video, room-sized installations, sculpture, photographic series, and works on paper, the exhibition focuses on Holt’s repeated challenge to look beyond what we think we know.

Teresita Fernández / Robert Smithson

Jul 5 – Oct 28, 2024
Two-person Exhibition

We are pleased to announce the exhibition Teresita Fernández / Robert Smithson launches at SITE SANTA FE in July  2024, in collaboration with SITE SANTA FE and Teresita Fernández. This major exhibition marks the first time Robert Smithson’s work has been placed in conversation with an artist working today. Artist-led and conceptually driven, Teresita Fernández / Robert Smithson is a subjective, intergenerational conversation between two practices.

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