Writings on Robert Smithson

Florida, Man: Robert Smithson’s Hypothetical Continent in Shells: Lemuria

Sean J Patrick Carney
January 2024
ISBN: 978-1-952603-34-1

Before sunrise on an already soupy Monday in mid-August 2023, scores of white contractor pickups from mainland Florida clogged the causeway bridge onto Sanibel, a narrow, crescent barrier island curving twelve miles along the Sunshine State’s southwestern Gulf Coast. Ten months earlier, Hurricane Ian had thrashed the island, leveling homes and businesses, disemboweling infrastructure, and clobbering complex, verdant ecosystems filled with alligators, marsh rabbits, black racer snakes, river otters, iguanas, gopher tortoises, and legions of bird species.

Dallas-Fort Worth Regional Airport Project, 1966-67

Trey Burns
January 2024
ISBN: 978-1-952603-32-7
Robert Smithson consulted with the engineering and architectural firm Tippetts-Abbett-McCarthy-Stratton (TAMS) from 1966 to 1967 on the design of Dallas-Fort Worth Regional Airport (DFW). This opportunity was spurred by a panel discussion featuring Smithson titled “Shaping the Environment: The Artist and the City” at Yale University in 1966.

Upside Down Trees: Terminal Transmissions

Adam Lauder
October 2023
ISBN: 978-1-952603-29-7

Robert Smithson’s Upside Down Trees (1969) form a circuit with the artist’s parallel series of earth maps, one that materializes and satirizes period visions of the growing informationalization of art and perception.

Three Desert Monuments: Revisiting Robert Smithson’s 1966 Collages

Ali Ismail Karimi
October 2022
ISBN: 978-1-952603-26-6

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.

Asphalt Rundown

Serena Solin
October 2022
ISBN: 978-1-952603-24-2

In 1969 and 1970, Robert Smithson created three “pour” sculptures that demonstrated his mastery of a difficult and deadly medium: entropy. In all three, an industrial material was prepared and poured downhill at a remote or neglected site and left to solidify.

Britannia Beach Project

Ron Graziani
February 2022
ISBN: 978-1-952603-19-8

It was early in December 1969, while still in negotiations with the government of British Columbia over securing the Miami Islet site for his Island of Broken Glass proposal

Haunted: Robert Smithson’s "My House is a Decayed House," 1962

Suzaan Boettger
October 2020
ISBN 978-1-952603-20-4

“History has many cunning passages, contrived corridors.” If the sardonic analogy sounds like Robert Smithson, you’re close: it was written by his favorite poet, T.S. Eliot. The line could apply to the aged Renaissance and Baroque architecture jumbled on a dusky hillside that Smithson depicted in a gouache, ink and collage painting on paper in 1962.

Voice and Vision in "Swamp"

Lori Zippay
February 2021
ISBN 978-1-952603-12-9

The film opens with a disembodied male voice and a landscape in motion. “Just walk in a straight line,” the man directs, as the camera advances tentatively towards an expanse of tall grasses. “I think, I think I am,” replies an unseen woman, the camera inching forward into the reeds. “Straight in…to that clump,” the man continues. “It’s OK, Nan, you’re on fairly solid ground. Straight in. Just go right in.…”

Robert Smithson’s "Texas Overflow" (1970)

Leigh A. Arnold
January 2021
ISBN 978-1-952603-21-1

In early December 1970 Robert Smithson traveled to the Dallas-Fort Worth area at the invitation of the Northwood Institute—a private business college located just outside of Cedar Hill, Texas.

Island of Broken Glass

Charlie Hailey
May 2020
ISBN 978-1-952603-10-5

Robert Smithson searched for lost islands. He might have found one in Miami Islet, but a telegram from the Canadian government in January of 1970, just two days after the seventieth anniversary of the shipwreck that gave the island its name, stopped the Island of Broken Glass project as it would also halt one hundred tons of green-tinted glass on its way to Vancouver’s coastline.

Mono Lake: Ring of Fire

Aurora Tang
June 2020
ISBN 978-1-952603-08-2
Mono Lake opens in dramatic flames set to a cinematic soundtrack by Michel Legrand, before transporting viewers to the gravel roads of the Eastern Sierra. The film was shot on July 28, 1968 by Nancy Holt, Robert Smithson, and Michael Heizer, and edited by Holt in 2004. We join the artists on a road trip through the “frost and fire” glacial and volcanic landscape, to Mono Lake, an ancient lake in the Basin and Range. Mono Lake serves as a portal to this curious landscape, shot during a pivotal time for each of the artists, and for the United States. In 1968, while seismic social and political shifts were underway across the country, cultural boundaries were also changing, and Holt, Smithson, and Heizer were forging new artistic terrain.

Robert Smithson, "A Nonsite (Franklin, New Jersey)" (1968)

Phyllis Tuchman
May 2020
ISBN 978-1-952603-05-1

In 1968, Robert Smithson realized an important group of works he collectively called Nonsites. This series features bin-like structures in which the artist deposited rocks, sand, broken concrete, and other elements he collected  at various sites in New Jersey. Accompanying these sculptures, Smithson hung on gallery walls photographs he’d snapped at the same Garden State locations, as well as fragments of maps that could lead other people to these places.

Swampy Ecologies

Bridget Crone
May 2020
ISBN 978-1-952603-07-5

You are in the middle of an expanse of tall thick dry grass, head height. As you look and move through this, a world unfurls that you become immersed in feeling, hearing, seeing, and experiencing fully in each moment. Expansive. The experience feels vivid and rich despite the difficulties of movement across uneven ground and against a fierce wind. Immersive. You cannot see beyond your immediate surroundings. There is no horizon.

A heap of Language

Craig Dworkin
May 2019
ISBN 978-1-952603-03-7

σάρμα εἰκῇ κεχυμένον ὁ κάλλιστος, φησὶν Ἡράκλειτος, [ὁ] κόσμος

[the most beautiful world is like a heap of rubble tossed down in confusion]

—Heraclitus of Ephesus 

Spiral Jetty

Gary Shapiro
November 2019
ISBN 978-1-952603-02-0

Robert Smithson designed and directed the construction of his iconic work the Spiral Jetty in April 1970. The Jetty is a site-specific work, meant to interact with changing conditions of the surrounding water, land, and atmosphere. While located in a relatively barren, unpopulated place, Smithson chose the site not only because of the vast surrounding landscape, but with reference to nearby abandoned oil rigs and the Golden Spike monument marking the 1869 completion of the transcontinental railway.