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Robert Smithson

The Invention of Landscape

March 4 − May 28, 2012

Robert Smithson (1938–1973) is one of the best-known representatives of Land Art. His site-specific landscape sculpture in the Great Salt Lake, Utah – the “Spiral Jetty” – has become a true icon, although this is in part also due to a film with the same title, which fluctuates between fiction and documentation. Having died in a tragic plane crash at the very early age of only 35, the artist subsequently became a legend himself.

Robert Smithson, Breaking Ground, Raumansicht Installation view of the film "Breaking Ground: Broken Circle/Spiral Hill", 1971-2011, by Nancy Holt and Theo Tegelaers

Smithson's second major landscape work was produced in Europe in 1971, on the occasion of the exhibition “Sonsbeek 71” near the Dutch town of Emmen.  In the context of this work, entitled “Broken Circle/Spiral Hill”, Smithson also formulated his ideas for a film in writing and drawings, and had actually already made some initial recordings. After forty years Nancy Holt – Smithson’s widow and artist herself – finally completed this film in collaboration with Land Art Contemporary and SKOR (Foundation for Art and Public Domain), Amsterdam. In the Museum für Gegenwartskunst Siegen the film “Breaking Ground: Broken Circle/Spiral Hill” was shown in Germany for the very first time within the context of photographies, drawings, and further films. The exhibition presented a total of four films, 30 drawings, and numerous photographies. It particularly highlighted the links between landscape sculpture and film in the work of Robert Smithson.

"BREAKING GROUND: Broken Circle/Spiral Hill (1971-2011)" was produced by LAND ART CONTEMPORARY and SKOR, Foundation for Art and Public Domain, and directed by Nancy Holt and Theo Tegelaers. More information available at:

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11 - 8



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Museum für Gegenwartskunst Siegen
Unteres Schloss 1
57072 Siegen

+49 (0) 271 405 77 0
+49 (0) 271 405 77 32