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Robert Smithson and Nancy Holt papers

Creator:
Smithson, Robert  Search this
Names:
Dwan Gallery (New York, N.Y.)  Search this
Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art  Search this
Andre, Carl, 1935-  Search this
Atkinson, Terry, 1939-  Search this
Dibbets, Jan, 1941-  Search this
Dwan, Virginia  Search this
Flavin, Dan, 1933-  Search this
Graham, Dan, 1942-  Search this
Haacke, Hans, 1936-  Search this
Heizer, Michael, 1944-  Search this
Holt, Nancy, 1938-  Search this
Insley, Will, 1929-2011  Search this
Jenney, Neil, 1945-  Search this
Johnson, Ray, 1927-  Search this
Kepes, Gyorgy, 1906-2001  Search this
LeWitt, Sol, 1928-2007  Search this
Lippard, Lucy R.  Search this
Long, Richard, 1945-  Search this
Oppenheim, Dennis, 1938-2011  Search this
Valledor, Leo  Search this
Wheeler, Dennis  Search this
Extent:
15.1 Linear feet
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Interviews
Sketches
Scrapbooks
Greeting cards
Photographs
Transcripts
Motion pictures (visual works)
Date:
1905-1987
bulk 1952-1987
Summary:
The papers of sculptor, writer, and earthworks artist Robert Smithson and his wife, sculptor, filmmaker, and earthworks artist Nancy Holt measure 15.1 linear feet and date from 1905 to 1987, with the bulk of the material dating from 1952 to 1987. The papers consist of Smithson's biographical material; business and personal correspondence, much of it with artists; interview transcripts; extensive writings and project files; financial records; printed material; a scrapbook of clippings; holiday cards with original prints and sketches; photographic material; and artifacts. Also found are project files related to Nancy Holt's motion picture film Pine Barrens and her seminal environmental work of art Sun Tunnels, including a video documentary about Sun Tunnels.
Scope and Content Note:
The papers of sculptor, writer, and earthworks artist Robert Smithson and his wife, sculptor, filmmaker, and earthworks artist Nancy Holt measure 15.1 linear feet and date from 1905 to 1987, with the bulk of the material dating from 1952 to 1987. The papers consist of Smithson's biographical material; business and personal correspondence, much of it with artists; interview transcripts; extensive writings and project files; financial records; printed material; a scrapbook of clippings; holiday cards with original prints and sketches; photographic material; and artifacts. Also found are project files related to Nancy Holt's film Pine Barrens and her seminal environmental work of art Sun Tunnels, including a video documentary about Sun Tunnels.

Biographical material includes Robert Smithson's curriculum vitae, personal identification and medical documents, eight engagement/day planners Smithson and Holt maintained from 1966 to 1973, and Smithson's funeral register.

Correspondence is primarily with Smithson's family, friends, fellow artists, and business associates discussing personal relationships, proposed art projects, and exhibitions. Correspondents of note include Carl Andre, the Dwan Gallery (Virginia Dwan), Dan Graham, Will Insley, Ray Johnson, Gyorgy Kepes, Sol Lewitt, Lucy Lippard, and Dennis Wheeler. There is also substantial correspondence received by Holt upon Smithson's death in 1973, and between Holt and the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art regarding Smithson's retrospective exhibition in 1982.

There are nine interview transcripts with Smithson discussing his works and his general philosophy on art, and one transcript of the Andrew Dickson White Museum's Earth Art Symposium (1969) featuring the following artists: Mike Hiezer, Dennis Oppenheim, Robert Smithson, Neil Jenney, Gunther Uecker, Jan Dibbets, Richard Long, and Hans Haacke.

Writings are substantial and include 73 drafts of published and unpublished essays by Smithson on art, artists, and works in progress. The series also includes poems by Smithson, six notebooks containing notes and sketches by Smithson, and drafts of writings sent to Smithson and Holt by friends and colleagues, including Carl Andre, Terry Atkinson, Dan Flavin, Dan Graham, and Jack Thibeau.

Project files contain correspondence, project instructions, diagrams and sketches, research materials, photographic material, and maps related to over 50 of Smithson's artworks. These include concepts, proposed projects, sculptures, non-sites, and earthwork projects, including Spiral Jetty, Broken Circle, and Spiral Hill.

Personal business records include gallery related loan arrangements and receipts for miscellaneous art supplies. Financial records include tax forms and preparation documents, including cancelled checks, receipts, statements, and related correspondence.

Printed materials include books, clippings, and periodicals related to Smithson, either containing writings or sketches by him, or containing articles reviewing his work. There are also exhibition announcements and catalogs of Smithson's group and solo shows from 1959 to 1985.

The scrapbook contains clippings of Smithson's published articles from 1966 to 1973 with annotated shorthand notes.

Artwork consists of Christmas cards collaged by Smithson, and sketches by Smithson and Leo Valledor.

Photographic materials include prints and negatives of Smithson with friends, promotional Hollywood movie stills, and original prints and copyprints of other artists' artwork.

Artifacts consist of a paper bag silkscreened with a Campbell's soup can (Warhol), promotional buttons (N.E. Thing Co.), various organic materials, and two art kits.

Nancy Holt's papers consist of correspondence, a grant application, printed materials, and project files and audio visual material related to her motion picture film Pine Barrens (1975) and her seminal environmental work of art Sun Tunnels (1975).
Arrangement:
The collection is arranged as 13 series:

Series 1: Biographical Materials, 1905-1974 (Box 1; 14 folders)

Series 2: Correspondence, 1959-1987 (Boxes 1-2, OV 21; 1.7 linear feet)

Series 3: Interview Transcripts, 1966-1973 (Box 2; 11 folders)

Series 4: Writings, 1959-1975 (Boxes 2-3; 1.1 linear feet)

Series 5: Project Files, circa 1950s-1982 (Boxes 4-5, Boxes 17-18, OV 20, OV 22-26, OV 36, RD 28-30, RD 32-35; 6.5 linear feet)

Series 6: Personal Business Records, circa 1967-1970s (Box 5; 4 folders)

Series 7: Financial Records, 1962-1972 (Box 6; 1 linear foot)

Series 8: Printed Material, 1955-1985 (Boxes 7-11, Box 18, RD 31; 5.6 linear feet)

Series 9: Scrapbook, 1966-1973 (Box 11, Box 16; 0.3 linear feet)

Series 10: Artwork, circa 1950s-1970s (Box 11; 4 folders)

Series 11: Photographs, circa 1950s-1970s (Box 11, Box 18; 5 folders)

Series 12: Artifacts, circa 1950s-1970s (Box 11, Box 14, OV 19; 0.5 linear feet)

Series 13: Nancy Holt Papers, circa 1960s-1980s (Box 12-13, 15, OV 27, FC 37-38; 1.9 linear feet)
Biographical Note:
Robert Smithson (1938-1973) was the pioneer of land and earthworks art. He was also a noted sculptor, painter, writer, and lecturer working primarily in New York City. Smithson's wife, Nancy Holt (1938-) was a noted sculptor and filmmaker and also worked as an earthworks artist.

Born in Passaic, New Jersey, Smithson expressed an early interest in art, enrolling in classes at the Brooklyn Museum School and the Art Student's League in New York while still attending high school. Smithson's early works were primarily paintings, drawings, and collages. In 1959, he exhibited his first solo show of paintings at the Artists' Gallery in New York and had his first solo international show in Rome with the Galleria George Lester in 1961.

During the early to mid-1960s, Smithson was perhaps better known as a writer and art critic, writing numerous essays and reviews for Arts Magazine and Artforum. He became affiliated with artists who were identified with the minimalist movement, such as Carl Andre, Donald Judd, Nancy Holt, Sol LeWitt, Robert Morris and others. In 1963, Smithson married sculptor and filmmaker Nancy Holt and a year later started to create his first sculptural works. In 1966, Smithson joined the Dwan Gallery, whose owner Virginia Dwan was an enthusiastic supporter of his work.

Smithson's interest in land art began in the late 1960s while exploring industrial and quarry sites and observing the movement of earth and rocks. This resulted in a series of sculptures called "non-sites" consisting of earth and rocks collected from a specific site and installed in gallery space, often combined with photographs, maps, mirrors, or found materials. In September 1968, Smithson published the essay "A Sedimentation of the Mind: Earth Projects" in Artforum that promoted the work of the first wave of land art artists. Soon thereafter, he began creating his own large scale land art and earthworks.

From 1967 to 1973, Smithson's productivity was constant as he wrote, lectured, and participated in several solo and group shows a year, both at home and abroad. He explored narrative art as essay in "The Monuments of Passaic" and fully committed to his idea of visiting sites and using them as the basis for creating non-sites, Non-Site, Pine Barrens, (1968); incorporated and documented the use of mirrors at sites in Mirror Displacement, Cayuga Salt Mine Project (1968-1969); and created his first site-specific works through liquid pours of mud, asphalt, and concrete, including Asphalt Rundown (1969). In 1969, he also completed his first earth pour at Kent State University with his project Partially Buried Woodshed. Later that year, he created the sculptural artwork for which he is best known, Spiral Jetty (1969) on the Great Salt Lake in Utah. This was the first of his pieces to require the acquisition of land rights and earthmoving equipment, and would be followed two years later by Broken Circle and Spiral Hill in 1971.

On July 20, 1973, while surveying sites in Texas for the proposed Amarillo Ramp, Smithson died in a plane crash at the age of 35. Despite his early death, Smithson's writings and artwork had a major impact on many contemporary artists.

Nancy Holt began her career as a photographer and video artist. Today, Holt is most widely known for her large-scale environmental works, Sun Tunnels and Dark Star Park. Holt has also made a number of films and videos since the late 1960s, including Mono Lake (1968), East Coast, West Coast (1969), and Swamp (1971) in collaboration with her late husband Robert Smithson. Points of View: Clocktower (1974) features conversations between Lucy Lippard and Richard Serra, Liza Bear and Klaus Kertess, Carl Andre and Ruth Kligman and Bruce Brice and Tina Girouard. In 1978, she produced a film about her seminal work Sun Tunnels.
Related Material:
The Archives also holds several collections related to Robert Smithson and Nancy Holt, including an oral history interview with Robert Smithson conducted by Paul Cummings in 1972; an interview with Robert Smithson conducted by Tony Robbin in 1968; Robert Smithson letters to George B. Lester, 1960-1963; and oral history interviews with Nancy Holt conducted by Scott Gutterman in 1992 and Joyce Pomeroy Schwartz in 1993.
Separated Material:
Non-archival library books, periodicals, and phonographs from Robert Smithson's personal library are currently stored offsite.
Provenance:
The papers of Robert Smithson and Nancy Holt were donated by Nancy Holt in several accretions between 1986 and 2011.
Restrictions:
Use of original papers requires an appointment. Use of archival audiovisual recordings with no duplicate access copy requires advance notice.
Rights:
The Robert Smithson and Nancy Holt papers are owned by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Literary rights as possessed by the donor have been dedicated to public use for research, study, and scholarship. The collection is subject to all copyright laws.
Topic:
Sculptors -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Authors -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Art -- Philosophy  Search this
Earthworks (Art)  Search this
Filmmakers -- New York (State) -- New York  Search this
Genre/Form:
Interviews
Sketches
Scrapbooks
Greeting cards
Photographs
Transcripts
Motion pictures (visual works)
Citation:
Robert Smithson and Nancy Holt papers, 1905-1987, bulk 1952-1987. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Identifier:
AAA.smitrobe
See more items in:
Robert Smithson and Nancy Holt papers
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-aaa-smitrobe
Additional Online Media:

Dwan Gallery (Los Angeles, California and New York, New York) records, 1959-circa 1982, bulk 1959-1971

Creator:
Dwan Gallery (New York, N.Y.)  Search this
Subject:
Rauschenberg, Robert  Search this
Andre, Carl  Search this
Dwan, Virginia  Search this
Weber, John  Search this
Guston, Philip  Search this
Richenburg, Robert  Search this
Anastasi, William  Search this
Kline, Franz  Search this
Parker, Raymond  Search this
Saint-Phalle, Niki de  Search this
Rivers, Larry  Search this
LeWitt, Sol  Search this
Goodnough, Robert  Search this
Arakawa, Shusaku  Search this
Kienholz, Edward  Search this
Klein, Yves  Search this
Mitchell, Joan  Search this
Flavin, Dan  Search this
Snelson, Kenneth  Search this
Smithson, Robert  Search this
Oldenburg, Claes  Search this
Scarpitta, Salvatore  Search this
Raysse, Martial  Search this
Arman  Search this
Morris, Robert  Search this
Reinhardt, Ad  Search this
Dwan Gallery (Los Angeles, Calif.)  Search this
Type:
Photographs
Slides (photographs)
Topic:
Art galleries, Commercial  Search this
Abstract expressionism  Search this
Minimal art  Search this
Earthworks (Art)  Search this
Art  Search this
Artists  Search this
Nouveaux rĂ©alistes (Group of artists)  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA_CollID)6056
(DSI-AAA_SIRISBib)216037
AAA_collcode_dwangall
Theme:
Art Movements and Schools
Art Gallery Records
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_coll_216037
Additional Online Media:

Robert Smithson and Nancy Holt papers, 1905-1987, bulk 1952-1987

Creator:
Smithson, Robert, 1938-1973  Search this
Holt, Nancy, 1938-  Search this
Subject:
Atkinson, Terry  Search this
Valledor, Leo  Search this
Johnson, Ray  Search this
Andre, Carl  Search this
Heizer, Michael  Search this
Long, Richard  Search this
Lippard, Lucy R.  Search this
Dwan, Virginia  Search this
Haacke, Hans  Search this
Insley, Will  Search this
LeWitt, Sol  Search this
Jenney, Neil  Search this
Graham, Dan  Search this
Wheeler, Dennis  Search this
Flavin, Dan  Search this
Oppenheim, Dennis  Search this
Kepes, Gyorgy  Search this
Dibbets, Jan  Search this
Type:
Sketches
Interviews
Greeting cards
Transcripts
Scrapbooks
Photographs
Motion pictures (visual works)
Topic:
Sculptors  Search this
Filmmakers  Search this
Earthworks (Art)  Search this
Art  Search this
Authors  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA_CollID)7105
(DSI-AAA_SIRISBib)209239
AAA_collcode_smitrobe
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_coll_209239
Additional Online Media:

David Bourdon papers, 1941-1998

Creator:
Bourdon, David, 1934-1998  Search this
Subject:
Johnson, Ray  Search this
Calder, Alexander  Search this
Type:
Interviews
Transcripts
Photographs
Topic:
Architecture  Search this
Sculpture  Search this
Earthworks (Art)  Search this
Design  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA_CollID)6210
(DSI-AAA_SIRISBib)216495
AAA_collcode_bourdavi
Theme:
Ephemera, Miscellany, and General Art Related
Art Theory and Historiography
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_coll_216495
Additional Online Media:

Photograph of Robert Smithson gathering slate in Bangor, Pennsylvania

Subject:
Smithson, Robert  Search this
Type:
Photographs
Place:
Pa.
Date:
1968
Topic:
Earthworks (Art)  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA)11611
See more items in:
Robert Smithson and Nancy Holt papers, 1905-1987, bulk 1952-1987
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_item_11611
Additional Online Media:

Robert Smithson collecting sand in Pine Barrens, New Jersey

Photographer:
LeWitt, Sol, 1928-2007  Search this
Subject:
Dwan, Virginia  Search this
Holt, Nancy  Search this
Peacock, Mary  Search this
Smithson, Robert  Search this
Type:
Photographs
Place:
New Jersey
Date:
1968 January
Topic:
Earthworks (Art)  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA)11612
See more items in:
Robert Smithson and Nancy Holt papers, 1905-1987, bulk 1952-1987
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_item_11612
Additional Online Media:

Photograph of Robert Smithson walking under a bridge in Pine Barrens, New Jersey

Subject:
Smithson, Robert  Search this
Type:
Photographs
Date:
1968 January
Topic:
Earthworks (Art)  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA)11613
See more items in:
Robert Smithson and Nancy Holt papers, 1905-1987, bulk 1952-1987
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_item_11613
Additional Online Media:

Robert Smithson essay on nature and art

Creator:
Smithson, Robert, 1938-1973  Search this
Type:
Writings
Date:
circa 1970
Topic:
Earthworks (Art)  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA)13247
See more items in:
Robert Smithson and Nancy Holt papers, 1905-1987, bulk 1952-1987
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_item_13247
Additional Online Media:

Robert Smithson letter to Allen Overton, Jr.

Creator:
Smithson, Robert, 1938-1973  Search this
Type:
Correspondence
Date:
1972 July 13
Topic:
Earthworks (Art)  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA)13255
See more items in:
Robert Smithson and Nancy Holt papers, 1905-1987, bulk 1952-1987
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_item_13255
Additional Online Media:

Photograph of an earth work by Robert Smithson

Subject:
Amsterdam (Netherlands). Stedelijk Museum  Search this
Type:
Photographs
Date:
197-?
Topic:
Earthworks (Art)  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA)13258
See more items in:
Robert Smithson and Nancy Holt papers, 1905-1987, bulk 1952-1987
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_item_13258
Additional Online Media:

Broken circle by Robert Smithson

Creator:
Amsterdam (Netherlands). Stedelijk Museum  Search this
Subject:
Smithson, Robert  Search this
Type:
Photographs
Date:
1971?
Topic:
Earthworks (Art)  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA)13259
See more items in:
Robert Smithson and Nancy Holt papers, 1905-1987, bulk 1952-1987
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_item_13259
Additional Online Media:

Project to be made of earth

Creator:
Morris, Robert, 1931-2018  Search this
Type:
Writings
Date:
circa 1966
Topic:
Earthworks (Art)  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA)13657
See more items in:
Robert Smithson and Nancy Holt papers, 1905-1987, bulk 1952-1987
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_item_13657

Sol Lewitt letter to Robert Smithson

Creator:
LeWitt, Sol, 1928-2007  Search this
Smithson, Robert, 1938-1973  Search this
Type:
Correspondence
Date:
circa 1967
Topic:
Earthworks (Art)  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA)13659
See more items in:
Robert Smithson and Nancy Holt papers, 1905-1987, bulk 1952-1987
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_item_13659

Photostat of Broken Circle

Subject:
Smithson, Robert  Search this
Type:
Photographs
Date:
not before 1971
Topic:
Earthworks (Art)  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA)13746
See more items in:
Robert Smithson and Nancy Holt papers, 1905-1987, bulk 1952-1987
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_item_13746
Additional Online Media:

Photostat of Spiral Hill

Subject:
Smithson, Robert  Search this
Type:
Photographs
Date:
not before 1971
Topic:
Earthworks (Art)  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA)13748
See more items in:
Robert Smithson and Nancy Holt papers, 1905-1987, bulk 1952-1987
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_item_13748
Additional Online Media:

Terminal area concepts

Creator:
Tippetts-Abbett-McCarthy-Stratton  Search this
Smithson, Robert, 1938-1973  Search this
Subject:
Dallas-Fort Worth Regional Airport  Search this
Type:
Writings
Date:
1966
Topic:
Earthworks (Art)  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA)17708
See more items in:
Robert Smithson and Nancy Holt papers, 1905-1987, bulk 1952-1987
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_item_17708

Map of Brigham City with location of Robert Smithson's Spiral Jetty marked

Creator:
U.S. Geological Survey  Search this
Smithson, Robert, 1938-1973  Search this
Type:
Printed Materials
Place:
Brigham City, Utah
Date:
1968
Topic:
Earthworks (Art)  Search this
Maps  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA)18080
See more items in:
Robert Smithson and Nancy Holt papers, 1905-1987, bulk 1952-1987
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_item_18080

Photograph of bulldozer laying Spiral Jetty

Subject:
Smithson, Robert  Search this
Type:
Photographs
Place:
Great Salt Lake, Utah
Date:
not after 1970
Topic:
Construction  Search this
Earthworks (Art)  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA)18081
See more items in:
Robert Smithson and Nancy Holt papers, 1905-1987, bulk 1952-1987
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_item_18081

Aerial view of Spiral Jetty

Subject:
Smithson, Robert  Search this
Type:
Photographs
Place:
Great Salt Lake, Utah
Date:
not before 1970
Topic:
Construction  Search this
Earthworks (Art)  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA)18082
See more items in:
Robert Smithson and Nancy Holt papers, 1905-1987, bulk 1952-1987
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_item_18082

Sun Tunnels work print

Creator:
Holt, Nancy, 1938-  Search this
Type:
Videorecording
Date:
1978
Topic:
Earthworks (Art)  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA)19625
See more items in:
Robert Smithson and Nancy Holt papers, 1905-1987, bulk 1952-1987
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_item_19625

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