Dallas Museum of Art announces Robert Smithson in Texas

The Dallas Museum of Art presents Robert Smithson in Texas an exhibition, on view November 24, 2013 through April 27, 2014 that coincides with the 40th anniversary of Smithson’s final work, Amarillo Ramp, completed posthumously in August 1973.

Robert Smithson, Mirrors and Shelly Sand, 1969–70. Fifty 12-inch x 48-inch mirrors, back to back; beach sand with shells or pebbles. Approximately 28 feet long. Dallas Museum of Art, gift of an anonymous donor; the Vin and Caren Prothro Foundation; an anonymous donor in memory of Vin Prothro and in honor of his cherished grandchildren, Lillian Lee Clark and Annabel Caren Clark; The Eugene McDermott Foundation; Dr. and Mrs. Mark L. Lemmon; American Consolidated Media; Bear/Hunter; and donors to the C. Vincent Prothro Memorial Fund © Estate of Robert Smithson, licensed by VAGA NY.

Robert Smithson, Mirrors and Shelly Sand, 1969–70. Fifty 12-inch x 48-inch mirrors, back to back; beach sand with shells or pebbles. Approximately 28 feet long. Dallas Museum of Art, gift of an anonymous donor; the Vin and Caren Prothro Foundation; an anonymous donor in memory of Vin Prothro and in honor of his cherished grandchildren, Lillian Lee Clark and Annabel Caren Clark; The Eugene McDermott Foundation; Dr. and Mrs. Mark L. Lemmon; American Consolidated Media; Bear/Hunter; and donors to the C. Vincent Prothro Memorial Fund © Estate of Robert Smithson, licensed by VAGA NY.


One of a number of artists in the 1960s and early 70s who built site-specific pieces in remote locations in the West, Smithson was a founder of the art form known as “earthworks” or “land art.” He is most well-known for Spiral Jetty, 1970, located in the Great Salt Lake, Utah, and described by the New York Times as “an icon of Americana.” In particular, he was intrigued by the idea of entropy, the inevitable disintegration of all objects in nature.

Robert Smithson’s engagement with Texas began in July 1966, when he was hired as an artist consultant to the New York–based architecture and engineering firm Tippetts, Abbett, McCarthy, Stratton (TAMS) to develop plans for the Dallas–Fort Worth Regional Airport. Though his plans never came to fruition, Smithson credited the project as being a major development in his movement toward the concept of large-scale earthworks. In the early 1970s, he returned several more times to Texas, where he proposed projects related to islands off the Gulf Coast outside Houston and at the Northwood Institute near Dallas. Though these projects, too, were never realized, the artist created as many as 15 drawings related to their respective proposals.

Born in Passaic, New Jersey, in 1938, Smithson studied painting and drawing in New York City at the Art Students League of New York from 1955 to 1956, and then briefly at the Brooklyn Museum School. He gained international recognition for his groundbreaking art, which was not limited by genre or materials, as well as for his critical writings, which challenged traditional categories of art between the years 1964–1973. Smithson’s art and writings have had a profound influence on sculpture and art theory for over 30 years, and his work continues to be exhibited in museums both nationally and internationally. The artist died in a plane crash in 1973 while surveying the final arrangements for his work Amarillo Ramp.

Robert Smithson in Texas features approximately 26 objects, including drawings, sculpture, and photographs, drawn from public and private collections and the artist’s estate. Also included in the exhibition is a film by artist Nancy Holt, to whom Smithson was married from 1963 to 1973, which pieces together never-before-seen footage taken during the construction of Amarillo Ramp. This incredible film celebrates the 40th anniversary of this earthwork’s completion and provides the viewer with unique insight into the artist’s working method. On view in the DMA’s Focus Gallery II, the exhibition presents lesser-known works from a period of Smithson’s career that was bookended by the Dallas–Fort Worth Airport project from 1966–1967, and Smithson’s only realized work in Texas, the 1973 Amarillo Ramp. Complementing the Focus show, the DMA will showcase in its Hoffman Galleries a selection of holdings by the artist in its permanent collection, including the dramatic sculpture Mirrors and Shelly Sand.

Dallas Museum of Art
1717 North Harwood
Dallas TX 75201

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