The sculptor Robert Smithson began his career as a painter. In he studied at the Brooklyn Museum School. There he painted his first canvasses in an Abstract Expressionist style and developed friendships with poets Allan Brillant and Richard Baker. Smithson's life-long concern for "oppositions" surfaced in these early works where, with a decorative and gestural brushstroke, he painted antithetical religious themes of the celestial and the demonic, the earthly and the spiritual, the sacred and the profane.
Robert Smithson's Homage to Passaic New Jersey
Out of Site: Finding Robert Smithson’s New Jersey | Observer
Interestingly, he names profane objects such as pipes and derelict spaces as monuments:. The bus passed over the first monument. I pulled the buzzer-cord and got off at the corner of Union Avenue and River Drive. The monument was a bridge that connected Bergen County with Passaic County … Along the Passaic River banks were many minor monuments such as concrete abutments that supported the shoulders of a new highway in the process of being built … As I walked north along what was left of River Drive, I saw a monument in the middle of the river—it was a pumping derrick with a long pipe attached to it … Nearby, on the river bank, was an artificial crater that contained a pale limpid pond of water, and from the side of the crater protruded six large pipes that gushed the water of the pond into the river. This constituted a monumental fountain that suggested six horizontal smokestacks that seemed to be flooding the river with liquid smoke … The last monument was a sand box or model desert. Instead, he had a preoccupation with space and the changing relations of place, location and map. You are commenting using your WordPress.
Robert Smithson Essay
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In , Robert Smithson made an excursion that he later recounted in a travelogue and a series of photographs. His destination was Passaic, the little town in New Jersey where he had been born. Along the banks of the Passaic River, the former industrial town was now decaying. To choose your birth town for an afternoon of sightseeing seems strange, particularly if the place lacks anything worth seeing, but Smithson believed that the New Jersey urban landscape embodied a certain truth of the time that was worth capturing.