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Detail, Surd Deposit

A work made of graphite on ivory wove paper.
Art © Estate of Robert Smithson / Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

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  • A work made of graphite on ivory wove paper.




Robert Smithson
American, 1938-1973

About this artwork

Robert Smithson was interested in the natural environment as an alternative site to the interior, decontextualized space of commercial galleries and museums. He produced this earthwork study as a document of one moment in the continual process of environmental flux. The drawing depicts a detail view of a wall-like cinder-block structure collapsing under the force of a concrete flow as it runs over a precipice. The appearance of the disintegrating edifice imbues the event with a catastrophic quality, conveying Smithson’s perception of entropy as a primeval or elementary component of the natural landscape.


Currently Off View


Prints and Drawings


Robert Smithson


Detail, Surd Deposit


United States (Artist's nationality:)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.

Made 1970–1973


Graphite on ivory wove paper


60.9 × 48.4 cm (24 × 19 1/16 in.)

Credit Line

Gift of Virginia Dwan

Reference Number



Art © Estate of Robert Smithson / Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

Extended information about this artwork

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