Three Desert Monuments: Revisiting Robert Smithson’s 1966 Collages
In 1966, Robert Smithson produced three proposals for monuments in desert settings: Grave Mounds with Object, Proposal for a Monument on the Red Sea, and Proposal for a Monument at Antarctica. These proposals for monuments in Bahrain, Egypt, and Antarctica were made by overlaying illustrations of crystalline forms clipped from science books onto found images. The collages were produced in a transitional year for the artist, made in a period between quasi-minimal sculptures and the earthworks that would come to define Smithson as a land artist. They are studies for unsolicited monuments in inaccessible locations, a way of intervening on sites that did not reoccur in Smithson’s oeuvre after 1966.