Fallen Christ

Robert Smithson
Ink, gouache on paper
18 x 24 in. (45.7 x 61 cm)

This austere depiction of Christ in a moment of agony reveals Smithson’s multi-layered fascination with religion. Smithson was deeply critical of the trending humanist approach to art, which he saw as the artist playing God and demanding viewers’ absorption of sentimental, egoistic intentions. Smithson was drawn to the religious iconography of the Middle Ages, the rigidity of which left little room for human imposition. The drawing’s use of geometric patterns and stripped-down anatomy make for an intensity that is somehow depersonalized—an antagonistic challenge of Smithson’s humanist contemporaries.

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