Robert Smithson (American, Passaic, New Jersey 1938–1973 Amarillo, Texas)
19.5 x 27.9 cm (7 11/16 x 11 in.)
Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift, through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 2001
Not on view
One of the most important and influential American artists of the second half of the last century, Smithson is best known for his landmark Spiral Jetty (1970)-a 1,500-foot sculpture of mud, salt crystal, and rock coiling over ten acres of the Great Salt Lake, Utah. Equally at home in sculpture and photography, film and writing, he simultaneously expanded our notion of art and used that expanded field to reinvigorate the great subjects of the past, among them landscape, myth, history, and the course of civilizations.
This image represents one of Smithson's first experiments with photography: starting with a found photograph of oil tankers being pulled ashore, the artist added a strange crystalline structure-part Martian outpost, part Minimalist sculpture-to the scene. He then printed the montage as a photostat (a commercial technique used by architects), making it into an hallucinatory science-fiction vision of a prehistoric future.
Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings
Inscription: Signed and dated in pencil, recto BR beneath image: "Robert Smithson 66"; inscribed in ink in an unknown hand on the verso C: "-210"
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Photographs: A Decade of Collecting," June 5, 2001–September 4, 2001.
Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. "Robert Smithson," September 12, 2004–December 13, 2004.
Dallas Museum of Art. "Robert Smithson," January 13, 2005–April 3, 2005.
Whitney Museum of American Art. "Robert Smithson," June 25, 2005–October 23, 2005.
Bowdoin College Museum of Art. "Past Futures: Science Fiction, Space Travel, and Postwar Art of the Americas," March 5, 2015–June 7, 2015.
Tsai, Eugenie. Robert Smithson. Los Angeles: Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, 2004. pp. 146–147.
Montross, Sarah J. Past Futures: Science Fiction, Space Travel, and Postwar Art of the Americas. Brunswick, Maine: Bowdoin College Museum of Art, 2015. no. 42, pp. 116-117.
Another work using the positive version of this image (silver gelatin print with collage) is held by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (M.2002.128). It is titled Proposal for a Monument at Anartica [sic] (formerly known as S. F. Landscape).