Robert Smithson: The Invention of the Landscape

Exhibition catalogue, edited by Eva Schmidt
texts (German/English) by Roel Arkesteijn, Eva Schmidt, Theo Tegelaers
136 p with 150 coloured illustrations
230 x 270 mm, softcover with dustjacket

ISBN 978-3-86442-010-8

(out of print)

The James Dean of Art

Upon the news of Robert Smithson’s untimely death, Michael Kimmelman, editor of The New York Times, summarily declared the artist – born in Rutherford New Jersey and perished at the age of thirty-five in a plane crash in 1973 whilst working on a new piece – to be the »James Dean of Art«. A certain parallelism aside, the appellation is due to the ­phenomenal effect of Robert Smithson’s site-specific earthwork sculpture Spiral Jetty on the shores of the Great Salt Lake in Utah that Kimmelman called an »icon of Americana«. And in his artistic and theoretical work, Robert Smithson was concerned with ­nothing less than fundamentals of this sort – Postminimalism, Land Art and artistic self-perception. In this way, Spiral Jetty has become legend through the eponymous film that oscillates between fiction and documentation.
A second Land Art project was initiated in 1971 in Europe on the occasion of the exhibition Sonsbeek 71 near Emmen in Holland. Smithson had also formulated his ideas for a film about this work for which he had already begun filming. Forty years on, the artist and Smithson’s widow, Nancy Holt has completed this film in conjunction with SKOR, ­Amsterdam.
The book is a documentation of the exhibition which features three films as well as 50 sketches and photographs and which also specifically describes the relationship between earthwork sculpture and film in the context of Robert Smithson’s oeuvre.

Museum für Gegenwartskunst Siegen, 4/3–3/5/2012
Reykjavik Art Museum, Reykjavik, 17/1–13/4/2013