Land Art Robert Smithson and Nancy Holt
ROBERT SMITHSON – 1938 - 1973 An American artist who often used drawing and photography in relation to his land art. His large ‘earthwork’ sculptures engaged directly with nature and were created by moving vast amounts of soil and rock. Using the earth as his palette Smithson created spirals, circles and mounds. He chose to work outside, rejecting what he said was a compromised gallery system. He did create smaller pieces which he called ‘nonsites’ which use topographic maps of his site specific work alongside displays of materials taken from the sites. He also documented his work extensively with photographs and film. This Photo by Unknown Author is licensed under CC BY-SA This Photo by Unknown Author is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND
In 1971 Smithson took a 20 year lease on a 10 acre plot of lakeside land at the Great Salt Lakes in Utah. He hired contractors to make a huge spiral extending 460 metres into the lake. This work titled ‘Spiral Jetty’ can still be seen periodically , depending on water levels. This Photo by Unknown Author is licensed under CC BY-SA This Photo by Unknown Author is licensed under CC BY
Smithson was interested in evoking geologic time through scale and the use of ancient rocks and dirt. He investigated many prehistoric sites, including Stonehenge. He ws also interested in the concept of entropy – how time and energy can disperse nature from the orderly to the disorderly. Robert Smithson died in a pane crash, aged just 35, inspecting a site in Texas for his earthwork ‘Amarillo Ramp’. The work was completed posthumously by his wife and fellow land artist Nancy Holt. Samples of earth exhibited as This Photo by Unknown Author is licensed under CC BYSA This Photo by Unknown Author is licensed under CC BY-NC
Nancy Holt – 1938 – 2014 born in Worcester, Massachusettes This Photo by Unknown Author is licensed under CC BY-SA
Nancy Holts key interests were perception, time and space. Her career spans over 50 years. One of her most well known pieces is ‘Sun Tunnels’ (73 -76) in the Great Basin Desert, Utah. This piece reflects her desire to ‘connect people with the planet earth’ and the work s said to create possibilities for intimate connection with nature, in particular, the stars.