The Foundation

Holt/Smithson Foundation exists to continue the creative and investigative spirit of the artists Nancy Holt (1938-2014) and Robert Smithson (1938-73).

Holt and Smithson developed innovative ways of exploring our relationship with the planet, expanding the limits of artistic practice. Through public service their Foundation engages in programs developing the artists' creative legacies, continuing the transformation they brought to the world of art and ideas.

Biographies

Nancy Holt

1938—2014

Nancy Holt was an artist who rethought the limits and possibilities of art. Born in 1938, Holt was a key member of the Earth, Land, and Conceptual art movements. For five decades she asked difficult questions about how we understand our place in the world. Her art continues to inspire and recalibrate the possibilities of what art can be, and where it can be found.

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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.

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 Robert E. Curtin. Richard Serra, Nancy Holt, and Tony Shafrazi complete Amarillo Ramp one month after his passing.

Nancy Holt standing inside one of the large tunnels that are part of Sun Tunnels.  Blue sky and sunny and Nancy is wearing a blue top and blue jeans.
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

Friday Film Program Weekend Screening

For the last nine weeks the first edition of Holt/Smithson Foundation’s Friday Film Program has presented a selected moving image work by Nancy Holt and/or Robert Smithson on Vimeo and IGTV for twenty-four hours.

This weekend all nine films in the Friday Film Program are accessible on Vimeo, along with introductions by artists Charlotte Prodger, Dorothy Cross, Lee Ranaldo, and Katrina Palmer, as well as by members of the Foundation team.

Holt/Smithson Foundation Friday Films—"Mono Lake" on May 29, 2020

Through April and May 2020 Holt/Smithson Foundation invites you to join us for our Friday Film Program.

Every Friday until the end of May we present a selected moving image work by Nancy Holt and/or Robert Smithson on Vimeo and IGTV for twenty-four hours. The program starts at 12 noon Friday on Mountain Time (the time zone of our home base in New Mexico), and runs to 12 noon on Saturday.

Holt/Smithson Foundation Friday Films — "The Making of Amarillo Ramp" on May 22, 2020

Through April and May 2020 Holt/Smithson Foundation invites you to join us for our Friday Film Program.

Every Friday until the end of May we present a selected moving image work by Nancy Holt and/or Robert Smithson on Vimeo and IGTV for twenty-four hours. The program starts at 12 noon Friday on Mountain Time (the time zone of our home base in New Mexico), and runs to 12 noon on Saturday.

Our eighth, and penultimate, Friday screening heads to Amarillo, Texas with Nancy Holt’s The Making of Amarillo Ramp (1973/2013).

Holt/Smithson Foundation Friday Films — "East Coast/West Coast" on May 15, 2020

Through April and May 2020 Holt/Smithson Foundation invites you to join us for our Friday Film Program.

Every Friday until the end of May we present a selected moving image work by Nancy Holt and/or Robert Smithson on Vimeo and IGTV for twenty-four hours. The program starts at 12 noon Friday on Mountain Time (the time zone of our home base in New Mexico), and runs to 12 noon on Saturday.

Our seventh Friday screening presents Nancy Holt and Robert Smithson’s first collaborative work, the video East Coast/West Coast (1969).

2020 Open Days at Broken Circle/Spiral Hill

In order to support the health and well-being of our visitors and staff, and in line with recommendations from public health officials regarding COVID-19, the planned 2020 Open Days at Robert Smithson’s Broken Circle/Spiral Hill (1971) will be postponed to 2021. Those who have booked for the 2020 dates will be given priority booking for 2021, and will be contacted directly.

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