50th Anniversary of Broken Circle/Spiral Hill

With our partners Land Art Contemporary and Centrum Beeldende Kunst Emmen, we are very happy to announce that Robert Smithson’s only earthwork outside the United States opens this summer to celebrate its fiftieth birthday. Between July and October 2021 Robert Smithson’s earthwork Broken Circle/Spiral Hill (1971) will be open for eight weekends. Bookings are essential, via the dedicated website www.brokencircle.nl.

Located near the City of Emmen in the province of Drenthe in The Netherlands, Broken Circle/Spiral Hill was commissioned for the 1971 edition of the recurring outdoor exhibition Sonsbeek. Smithson’s earthwork is sited in a former sand-mine, cut into the side of a terminal moraine. It is an artwork of two parts. Broken Circle is a semi-circular jetty built into a quarry lake filled with reflecting green water. Spiral Hill rises into a cone-shaped hill beside the lake; from the top, via a spiraling path, the quarry and Broken Circle can be seen from above. At the center is an immovable huge boulder deposited by ancient glacial movements. 

The geological and industrial history of the Drenthe region drew Smithson to Emmen. He was fascinated by the constructed landscape of The Netherlands. Smithson was interested in “landscapes that suggest prehistory. As an artist it is sort of interesting to take on the persona of a geological agent where man actually becomes part of that process rather than overcoming it.” Smithson was committed to working with landscapes scarred by industry, thinking through future uses for exhausted landscapes. Smithson described this as “a major piece” and it sparked his interest in working with industry and post-industrial landscape to make art “a necessary part of their reclamation projects.”

Sited on private land, the future of Broken Circle/Spiral Hill is uncertain. It is an artwork with a rich history, with a deep resonance for the present, and with an unknown future. Working with the current landowners and our Dutch partners Land Art Contemporary, Holt/Smithson Foundation’s ambition is to build a sustainable future for the artwork to enable it to inspire future generations.

Alongside the Open Weekends, a series of talks, screenings, and presentations organized with Dutch partners take place this year. See www.brokencircle.nl for details. 

Robert Smithson, Broken Circle/SpiralHill (1971)
Emmen, The Netherlands
Postcard from 1972, photographer unknown

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

Archived News

"Nancy Holt: Trail Markers" at Frieze Masters with Parafin

Early photographic works from the late 1960s by Nancy Holt are currently on view at Frieze Masters in a presentation by Parafin, London. These works will be on view at The Regent's Park, London from 13 – 17 October, 2021.

2021 Research Fellows: Markus Karstieß and Eva Schmidt

We are pleased to announce the final fellowship awardees in our 2021 Holt/Smithson Foundation Research Fellowship season: Markus Karstieß and Eva Schmidt.

Markus Karstieß and Eva Schmidt will collaborate on a Research Fellowship focused on Robert Smithson’s 1968 work Asphalt Lump and his related work made in the Rhine-Ruhr region of Germany. 

Previously Unpublished Smithson Interview Now Available

We are pleased to share the audio recording and transcript of a previously unpublished Robert Smithson interview from 1969, conducted in Smithson’s NYC loft by Danish artist Stig Broegger and journalist and author Erik Thygesen.

During an extensive research trip to the U.S., Broegger and Thygesen sought out Robert Smithson in New York for a conversation on Environmental Art and the role of art and artists in society. The two recalled the amount of glass, mirrors, and piles of rocks in the loft Smithson shared with Nancy Holt in Greenwich Village.

Wednesday Writings

We are excited to share our latest digital program: Wednesday Writings.

Every Wednesday through July and August we will be publishing a text from Nancy Holt or Robert Smithson to the Holt/Smithson Foundation website.⁠⁠

Holt and Smithson's writings provide an unparalleled vantage into the concepts, processes, and thoughts that guided their artwork. Both artists wrote extensively and had their writings published in art publications such as ArtforumStudio International, Arts Magazine, and Avalanche.