Icons of the Collection: Robert Smithson and His Films

Celebrated artist Robert Smithson will be the focus of the distinguished discussion Icons of the Collection: Robert Smithson and His Films at 7 p.m., Thursday March 31, in the Horchow Auditorium at the Dallas Museum of Art. The evening will feature conversations with Whitney Museum Curator Chrissie Iles and Nancy Holt, artist, collaborator, and widow of the pioneer earthworks artist. Moderated by Eugenie Tsai, Ahmanson Curatorial Fellow at The Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, the discussion will celebrate and explore the films and works of Smithson as one of the most influential contemporary American artists of the 20th century.

Tickets for the event are $10 for the public and $5 for DMA members. Friends of Modern and Contemporary Art members and students are free. For reservations please call 214-922-1826.

The discussion coincides with the Dallas Museum of Art’s Robert Smithson exhibition, a retrospective of more than 130 objects including sculpture, paintings, works on paper, essays and manuscripts, photographs and films made between 1955 and 1973.

Smithson is most widely known for his work Spiral Jetty (1970), a 1,500-foot long and 15-foot wide rock coil that extends into the Great Salt Lake in Utah.

“Although his life was cut short by his untimely death in a plane crash near Amarillo at the age of 35, Smithson’s career was distinguished and highly important. His art and writings define key issues of the 1960s and 1970s and remain relevant—even inspirational—to younger artists today,” says Suzanne Weaver, Associate Curator of Contemporary Art, who coordinated the Dallas installation of the exhibition.

In 1966, Smithson began experimenting with the ideas of landscape, specific sites and mapping when he was commissioned to develop a project for Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. His use of topographic maps from that project evolved into a body of works based on maps and mapping, which also encompasses art institutions, notably museums.

Works by Smithson in the exhibition range from a selection of paintings and drawings featuring symbolic imagery, word drawings, collages and cartouches made early in his career between 1955 and 1963, to dazzling mirrored wall and floor structures such as Mirrors and Shelly Sand (1969–1970) from the Dallas Museum of Art’s collections. Key works in the exhibition produced in 1966 include Alogon #2, Glass Stratum, Untitled (science fiction landscape), Monument for the Red Sea, and A Heap of Language.

Robert Smithson was organized by The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, with Suzanne Weaver and Charles Wylie as organizing curators in Dallas. The retrospective runs through April 3, 2005.