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Robert Smithson in Texas

Robert Smithson
Estate of Robert Smithson and James Cohan Galler
Artists' Books
9.5 × 11 in
80 pgs
Contemporary Art, Photography

Robert Smithson (1938-73), the internationally renowned pioneer of the earthworks movement who is best known for his earthwork Spiral Jetty (1970), is considered one of the most iconoclastic artists of the 20th century. Published on the occasion of the exhibition Robert Smithson in Texas at the Dallas Museum of Art, this book contains essays and illustrations that examine Smithson’s engagement with the Texas landscape. Smithson’s involvement 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 a major catalyst in his development toward the concept of large-scale earthworks. The artist returned to Texas several times in the years following the DFW Airport project, proposing earthworks related to islands off the Gulf Coast outside Houston and at the Northwood Institute near Dallas.

Smithson’s final work, Amarillo Ramp was completed posthumously in August 1973. Though the artist had finalized the arrangement for the earthwork, he died tragically in a plane crash while aerially viewing the staked-out form. In addition to the essays and illustrated exhibition checklist, the publication includes still images from Nancy Holt’s film The Making of Amarillo Ramp, 1973-2013. Using archival footage shot in 1973 by Holt—artist and wife of Robert Smithson—as well as still images of Smithson’s visit to Amarillo, the film provides a visual story of the Amarillo Ramp as it was developed from start to finish.

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