(1938 - 1973)
Robert I. Smithson was active/lived in Texas, Utah, New Jersey. Robert Smithson is known for earthworks, concept-site sketches.
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Biography from the Archives of askART
Known as one of the major innovative artists of the 20th century
because of his earthworks and his views on the definition of art,
Robert Smithson is frequently associated in people's minds with Spiral Jetty,
a 1970 earthwork that is a 1,500 foot coil of earth and black basalt
extending into Utah's Great Salt Lake at Rozel Point 48 miles from Salt
Lake City. However, shortly after its installation, the
work disappeared because it was covered by rising water levels and
remained hidden until the 21st century when drought caused the water to
Biography from Auctionata, Inc.
In May, 1999, he was featured in ARTNews
magazine as one of the top twenty-five most influential artists of the
20th-century western world. Of him it was written that although he
lived only 35 years, he "offhandedly generated more ideas in the dozen
or so years he was active than most people do in a lifetime."
was born in Passaic, New Jersey, and he and his family moved to
Clifton, New Jersey when he was ten. He studied at the Art
Student's League in Manhattan while finishing high school. In the
Army Reserves in 1956, he became the artist-in-residence for the Army
station at Fort Knox, Kentucky.
In 1959, he had his first
exhibit of expressionist painting, and from there went on to do much
writing about art in magazines, to create monumental structures in
geographically remote areas, and to challenge museums' traditional
views about exhibiting art. One of his earthworks was at Kent
State University where he piled dirt on top of a dilapidated building
on the campus until the weight caused the ceiling to collapse. It
was both an exercise in physics and a comment on the state of modern
He was killed in an airplane accident in 1973 while surveying the site for Amarillo Ramp in Texas.
ARTnews, May 1999
A&A Update, Editors, Art & Antiques, Summer 2006
Robert Smithson was born in 1938. Smithson began as an artist living in New York, and studying at the Brooklyn Museum School during the 1950's.
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He met and married sculptor Nancy Holt before becoming a key figure in the development of Land Art. He is most known for his man-made geographical formations, including the Spiral Jetty (1970) located on the Great Salt Lake.
Smithson continued to work in various media including photography, until his death in a plane crash in 1973. He dubbed his massive alterations, earthworks- both inspired by nature and reactive to it.
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