Artist
Robert Smithson
American artist

Images

We do our best to use images that are open source. If you feel we have used an image of yours inappropriately please let us know and we will fix it.

Accuracy

Our writing can be punchy but we do our level best to ensure the material is accurate. If you believe we have made a mistake, please let us know.

Visits

If you are planning to see an artwork, please keep in mind that while the art we cover is held in permanent collections, pieces are sometimes removed from display for renovation or traveling exhibitions.

Robert Smithson
American artist

Birth Date

January 02, 1938

Death Date

July 20, 1973

Contributor

Robert Smithson was definitely an oddball. But then again, what artist isn’t? 

Smithson’s art has always been somewhat unconventional. When he was a young collage maker, he was highly influenced by the homoerotic drawings and photos in Beefcake Magazine, which is pretty understandable. I mean the men in those magazines were quite the hunksicles. With a fascination for sexy magazines, Smithson started his artistic career as a Pop artist. I suppose eventually though he felt this type of art to be nothing more than a hollow shell and turned to his childhood memories for inspiration.    

Smithson was influenced by his surrounding landscape from a young age. As a child, Smithson was often driven through Jersey to take art classes in New York. Say what you want about Jersey now, but back when Smithson was a child the New Jersey landscape consisted of many dumps and trash-filled fields. This imagery likely fueled his fascination in the destruction of the environment.

And influence it did. Some of Smithson’s earliest earthwork pieces were made on industrial waste sites (like the hot tub from the Jersey Shore house).  Probably not the best choice for his health, but this decision appears to align with his ideologies. It would seem that Smithson was a bit of a pessimist. He saw life and energy as constantly in decay. This obsession with entropy informed much of his artwork and ultimately he loved to witness the natural deterioration of his own creations. Nonattachment for the win, Smithson clearly would have made a great Buddhist. While he loved to see his work become one with the earth, us modern day Smithson fans are unfortunately left with little of his art still around. Luckily, Smithson was an avid photographer and documented his work extensively.

Smithson was one of the OG land and environmental artists. While it is easy to jump to the conclusion that the original environmental artists were all tree-loving hippies, this is very far from the truth. In fact, this artistic movement was born out of a disdain for the art world and a hatred of the power of capitalism to shape our beliefs surrounding the value of art.

So Smithson proceeded to spend the rest of his career playing in the dirt. Not a bad gig if you ask me. Smithson lived a pretty epic life, and his death was no exception. While surveying sites for an upcoming project, Smithson’s plane crashed in the middle of nowhere Texas. I guess he was right about the whole destruction and decay thing after all.

Featured Content

Here is what Wikipedia says about Robert Smithson

Warning: Page using Template:Infobox artist with unknown parameter "influenced by" (this message is shown only in preview).
Warning: Page using Template:Infobox artist with unknown parameter "imagesize" (this message is shown only in preview).
Warning: Page using Template:Infobox artist with unknown parameter "bgcolour" (this message is shown only in preview).

Robert Smithson (January 2, 1938 – July 20, 1973) was an American artist who used photography in relation to sculpture and land art.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Robert Smithson.