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PRINT May 2001

THE MIRROR OF FASHION: DALE McCONATHY AND THE NEO-AVANT-GARDE

On the face of it, “The Crystal Land,” the earliest of Robert Smithson’s magazine texts, is a charming travelogue: a recollection of a visit to an abandoned quarry in New Jersey. That Donald Judd is among the “guests” along for the tour seems an incidental detail, until it becomes apparent that Judd’s work has become fodder for the author’s capacious imagination. The flat, descriptive prose is strikingly suggestive of Judd’s “placid but dismal” style, and Judd’s pink Plexiglas box is compared to a “giant crystal from another planet.” Nor does Judd himself escape appropriation. The Judd of Smithson’s account is a fellow geologist and would-be earth artist. The formidable author of “Specific Objects” has become a narcissistic reflection of Smithson’s interests. In the Smithson tour, the Pied Piper of Entropy always leads the way.

The first of Smithson’s famous travel narratives, “The Crystal

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