PRINT Summer 2004


Mirror-Travels: Robert Smithson and History

CANONIZED FOUNDER OF EARTHWORKS, filmmaker, respected antiformalist theorist, “preconscious” religious visionary, homoerotic draftsman, and Beat poet (not to mention posthumous market-driven photographer)—these Robert Smithsons have proliferated since the artist aligned himself with the new entropic monuments later designated as Minimal art. Perhaps because of his deadpan enthusiasm for what he called the “inactive history” of Flavin, Judd, et al., the eccentric works Smithson produced from roughly 1964 to 1969 (Minimalism’s heyday) are useful tools for scholars trying to get inside the Minimalist box. Smithson, along with Eva Hesse, helped us unravel the ways in which Minimalism’s geometry was always already anxious—poised between Greenbergian formalist empiricism and postmodern polysemy.

In light of LA MoCA’s current exhibition “A Minimal Future?” and its upcoming Smithson retrospective

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