Robert Smithson (American, Passaic, New Jersey 1938–1973 Amarillo, Texas)
Gelatin silver print
18.1 x 23.8 cm (7 1/8 x 9 3/8 in. )
Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift, through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 2001
Not on view
Drawing directly onto the surface of a found photograph (still bearing its price tag), Smithson deposited a rough pile of black coal in the middle of a well manicured public park graced with picturesque vistas. In doing so, the artist undermined our complacent acceptance of antiseptic public spaces and, by extension, our consciousness: the ugly, but pertinent, processes and infinite span of geologic time.
Inscription: Titled, signed, and dated in ink on the print, recto BLC: "Island // of // Coal // R. Smithson 1969"; sticker [price tag] affixed to print surface, recto TRC, numbered in ink in an unknown hand: "25"
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Photographs: A Decade of Collecting," June 5, 2001–September 4, 2001.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Everyday Epiphanies: Photography and Daily Life Since 1969," June 25, 2013–January 26, 2014.
Pierogi 2000. Robert Smithson: A Collection of Writings on Robert Smithson on the Occasion of the Installation of Dead Treet at Pierogi 2000, edited by Joe Amrhein. New York: Brian Conley, 1997. p. 6.