Robert Smithson Drawings in Paris
Across two sites, Gaillard offers a reflection upon time—its traces, its effects, and the relationships that humans form with it. Inspired by the current moment where Paris is restoring its most prestigious monuments whilst erasing marks of wear and tear in preparation for the Olympic Games, Gaillard reveals how the city acts a privileged terrain for the expression of entropy and how, in turn, humans seem compelled to fight against this process.
In Humpty \ Dumpty at Palais de Tokyo, Gaillard has made a careful selection of fifteen Robert Smithson drawings from the Foundation’s collection, which he made between 1960 and 1963. Rarely seen, this selection of works on paper reveals his enduring concerns with entropy.
In 1972 Smithson described these as being “phantasmagorical drawings of cosmological worlds somewhat between Blake and a kind of Boschian imagery.” These drawings show Smithson’s roots, his ideas in progress; they are a raw, unfettered analysis of the idea of modernism and systems of knowledge. There are trees, spirals, forking paths, language, pulsating forms stretching beyond arboreal and human bodies, knots of limbs, and Smithson chose titles such as Chaos, Disease, Devil, and Usury for these exploratory works.
Robert Smithson, Untitled (1961)
Pencil and watercolor on paper
12 5/8 x 14 7/8 in. (32.1 x 37.8 cm)
Courtesy Holt/Smithson Foundation and Marian Goodman Gallery
© Holt/Smithson Foundation / Licensed by Artists Rights Society, New York