Archives of American Art

Oral history interview with Robert Smithson

Collection ID:
Smithson, Robert
Cummings, Paul
1972 July 14-19
Physical Description:
59 Pages

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
An interview of Robert Smithson conducted 1972 July 14-19, by Paul Cummings, for the Archives of American Art at 799 Greenwich Street in New York on July 14 and 19 1972. Smithson speaks of growing up in Passaic, New Jersey; primary and high school; high school art education; going to New York Museums; writing and its impact on art work; the Artists Gallery; the Art Students League; his time in the army; the Cedar Bar; Quicksand; the Museum of Modern Art; art education; Sam Smithson; his father; traveling the U.S.; Brooklyn Museum School; impact of the Museum of Natural History; moving to New York; visiting Europe; psychology; show at the George Lester Gallery; the Broken Circle; Dallas-Fort Worth Airport; crystalline structures; meeting William Carlos Williams; cosmology; Enantiomorphic Chambers; mapping; painting and drawing; the Dwan Gallery; getting married; Aerial Art; earthworks; sculpture; the Cryosphere; Alogon; Rome; stratas; nonsites; When Attitudes Become Form; Attitudes; mining sites and quarries; light and reflection; the Spiral Jetty; coordination of large works; documentation; selection of sites; Gyrostasis; weather's impact and seasonal change of the Spiral Jetty; confines of the gallery and museum; mirrors; landscapes; artist materials; art education; traveling; art and vacations; documenta; Smithson also recalls Federica Beer-Monti , Hugh Stix , Danny Donohue, Joe Levin, Charlie Hasloff, John Cassavetes , Alan Brilliant, Irving Sandler, Barnett Newman, Richard Bellamy,John Groth, Lawrence Alloway, T. S. Elliot, Donald Judd, William Carlos Williams, Jackson Pollock, William Burroughs, Ad Reinhardt, Dan Flavin, Virginia Dwan, Rosalind Krauss, and others.

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
Robert Smithson (1938-1973) was a sculptor well known for his earthworks.

Funding for the digital preservation of this interview was provided by a grant from the Save America's Treasures Program of the National Park Service.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
This interview is part of the Archives' Oral History Program, started in 1958 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians, dealers, critics and others.
Existence and Location of Copies
Transcript is available on the Archives of American Art's website.

Digital Content

Using the Collection
Conditions Governing Access
This interview is open for research. Contact Reference Services for more information.

More Information
Originally recorded on 2 sound tape reels. Reformatted in 2010 as 3 digital wav files. Duration is 3 hr.

Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Sculpture, Modern -- 20th century Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Art -- Philosophy Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sound recordings Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Interviews Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sculptors -- New York (State) -- New York Occupation Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Environmental artists -- New York (State) -- New York Occupation Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Dwan, Virginia Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Archives of American Art
750 9th Street, NW
Victor Building, Suite 2200
Washington, D.C. 20001