The Foundation

The Holt/Smithson Foundation exists to continue the creative and investigative spirit of the artists Nancy Holt (1938-2014) and Robert Smithson (1938-73).

Holt and Smithson developed innovative ways of exploring our relationship with the planet, expanding the limits of artistic practice. Through public service their Foundation engages in programs developing the artists creative legacies, continuing the transformation they brought to the world of art and ideas.

Biographies

Nancy Holt

Nancy Holt was an artist who rethought the limits and possibilities of art. Born in 1938, Holt was a key member of the Earth, Land, and Conceptual art movements. For five decades she asked difficult questions about how we understand our place in the world. Her art continues to inspire and recalibrate the possibilities of what art can be, and where it can be found.

Read More about
Nancy Holt

Robert Smithson

For over fifty years, Robert Smithson's work and ideas have influenced artists and thinkers, building the ground from which contemporary art has grown. Born in New Jersey in 1938, Smithson' early interests in cartography, geology, prehistory, philosophy, science-fiction, and language spiral through his work. From his landmark earthworks to his “quasi-minimalist” sculptures, Nonsites, writings, proposals, collages, drawings, and radical rethinking of landscape, Smithson's ideas are profoundly urgent for our times. 

Read More about
Robert Smithson
Nancy Holt as a young baby laying on a sofa with a Yellowstone Park poster in the background.
Year: 1938

Nancy Louise Holt is born in Worcester, Massachusetts on April 5, 1938.  Her parents are Ernest Milton Holt, a chemical engineer and E. Louise Holt, a homemaker.

Black and white image of Nancy Holt standing outside a brick building
Year: 1941

The Holt family moves to to Clifton, New Jersey where Nancy Holt attends high school.  This image shows Nancy Holt at age 16, in 1955.

Nancy Holt standing by shore of lake with sunglasses on and short brown hair.
Year: 1968

Nancy Holt visits the American West for the first time with Smithson and Michael Heizer. Shoots film Mono Lake with Smithson and Heizer at California’s Mono Lake.

Photo: Michael Heizer

Two men in swimsuits leaned over pushing a tree stump on a sandy beach.
Year: 1969

Robert Rauschenberg helps Smithson drag a tree out of the water and onto the beach on Captiva Island, Florida, in order to create Smithson's Upside Down Tree II.

Nancy Holt's face reflected in a circular mirror
Year: 1973

Nancy Holt first presents her installation work Holes of Light in a solo exhibition at the LoGiudice Gallery.

Three figures standing at the site of Amarillo Ramp in Texas
Year: 1973

While photographing Amarillo Ramp, Smithson dies in a small airplane accident, along with pilot Gale Ray Rogers and photographer Robert E. Curtin. Richard Serra, Nancy Holt, and Tony Shafrazi complete Amarillo Ramp one month after his passing.

Nancy Holt standing inside one of the large tunnels that are part of Sun Tunnels.  Blue sky and sunny and Nancy is wearing a blue top and blue jeans.
Year: 1976

Holt completes construction of her most discussed work, Sun Tunnels in Utah’s Great Basin Desert.  

Nancy Holt standing in a circular hole at her work Stone Enclosure: Rock Rings
Year: 1978

Working with Professor Lawrence Hanson and stonemason Al Poynter among others, Holt constructs Stone Enclosure: Rock Rings at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington.

A series of interconnected steel conduit and lightbulbs in a room.
Year: 1982

Holt constructs and exhibits her first Electrical System works: Electrical System (For Thomas Edison) and Electrical System II: Bellman Circuit [pictured].

Nancy Holt sitting in an old juniper tree in New Mexico
Year: 1995

Nancy Holt moves to Galisteo, New Mexico.

Photo: Lucy Lippard, 1998

large earthwork sculpture made using earth, concrete, water, and grass with people moving around on top of it.
Year: 1998

Holt completes a major earthwork in Nokia, Finland titled Up and Under. 

Nancy Holt, Up and Under (1987-98)

Location: Pinsiö, Finland

Materials: sand, concrete, topsoil, grass, water

Overall surface area: 14 acres (5.7 hectares)

Mound: height ranges from 11 to 26 ft (3.5 to 8 m), with a length of 630 ft (192 m)

Tunnels: length 241 ft (74 m), with a diameter of 10 ft (3 m)

Orientation: using the North Star as true North, the tunnels are on

north-south and east-west axes

© Holt/Smithson Foundation/licensed by VAGA at ARS, New York

A large white walled room with benches and projected images on two hanging screens and images on the wall.
Year: 2010

From 2010 through 2012 the retrospective exhibition Nancy Holt: Sightlines (curated by Alena J. Williams) travels from the Wallach Art Gallery, Columbia University to Badischer Kunstverein in Karlsruhe, Tufts University Art Gallery in Boston, the Graham Foundation in Chicago, Santa Fe Arts Institute, and the Utah Museum of Fine Arts in Salt Lake City.

Photograph: Stephan Baumann

Announcements

‘Light and Language’ and Lismore Castle Arts

Lismore Castle Arts and Holt/Smithson Foundation are pleased to announce the exhibition Light and Language: Nancy Holt with A.K. Burns, Matthew Day Jackson, Dennis McNulty, Charlotte Moth, and Katie Paterson, which opens on March 28, 2020. This exhibition unites the work of pioneering American land artist Nancy Holt with five global contemporary artists whose practices have been influenced by Holt’s oeuvre and theories. In bringing together past and present, Light and Language traces the indelible legacy of Holt.

Contact Us