Skip to main content

Robert Smithson and Nancy Holt papers, 1905-1987, bulk 1952-1987

Smithson, Robert, 1938-1973

Painter, Sculptor

Collection Information

Size: 15.1 linear feet

8 rolled docs

Library: 76.0 linear feet

Summary: The papers of sculptor, writer, and earthworks artist Robert Smithson and his wife, sculptor, filmmaker, and earthworks artist Nancy Holt measure 15.1 linear feet and date from 1905 to 1987, with the bulk of the material dating from 1952 to 1987. The papers consist of Smithson's biographical material; business and personal correspondence, much of it with artists; interview transcripts; extensive writings and project files; financial records; printed material; a scrapbook of clippings; holiday cards with original prints and sketches; photographic material; and artifacts. Also found are project files related to Nancy Holt's films "Pine Barrens" and "Suntunnels."

Biographical/Historical Note

Robert Smithson (1938-1973) was a pioneer of land and earthworks art, working primarily in New York City. Nancy Holt (1938-2014), Smithson's wife, was a noted sculptor and filmmaker and also worked as an earthworks artist. Smithson was also a noted sculptor, painter, writer, and lecturer .


The papers of Robert Smithson and Nancy Holt were donated by Nancy Holt in several accretions between 1986 and 2011.

Related Materials

The Archives also holds several collections related to Robert Smithson and Nancy Holt, including an oral history interview with Robert Smithson conducted by Paul Cummings in 1972; an interview with Robert Smithson conducted by Tony Robbin in 1968; Robert Smithson letters to George B. Lester, 1960-1963; and oral history interviews with Nancy Holt conducted by Scott Gutterman in 1992 and Joyce Pomeroy Schwartz in 1993.


Funding for the preservation and transfer of motion picture film provided by the Smithsonian Women's Committee. Funding for the processing of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.