The Wildman Of Chelsea


So woohoo, Andrew Russeth pointed back to a Charlie Finch artnet gossip column from 1998, and just wow. I was there, I mean, I remember a lot of that stuff, and it is freaking me out how alien and long ago and far away it all sounds.

One thing I didn't know or remember, was Finch's story from John Weber, about how he found a 1961 Robert Smithson painting in his storage while preparing his move to West 20th Street. It was called The Wildman of Chelsea.

Finch's is the only mention I could find of it online.

But it got me thinking [again]. Smithson's Floating Island was posthumously realized based on a simple 1970 sketch, right?


And Smithson left plenty of other comparably detailed sketches for projects. Who's to say that The Wildman of Chelsea isn't an early work in the series?

What's to stop someone from realizing Wildman right now, right here? With all the beards and jorts pegged jeans around town these days, it could probably be done and posted to flickr before dinnertime.

Obviously, what's really needed is a band of historically accurate enthusiasts to start researching this stuff in depth, and then re-presenting it, for both the aesthetic benefit of the public, but also for one's own experiential edification. It's like Marina Abramovic's white-coated MoMA crew meets Civil War re-enactors. For Smithson.

The Robert Smithson Re-enactors Society.

Since 2001 here at, I've been blogging about the creative process—my own and those of people who interest me. That mostly involves filmmaking, art, writing, research, and the making thereof.

Many thanks to the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program for supporting that time.

comments? questions? tips? pitches? email
greg [at] greg [dot ] org

find me on twitter: @gregorg

post info

first published: July 14, 2010.

next older post:
These Lovely Arting Gifts

next newer post:
All The Named Buildings On The Ocean Road Strip

recent projects, &c.

Our Guernica Cycle, 2017 –
about/kickstarter | exhibit, 2017

Social Medium:
artists writing, 2000-2015
Paper Monument, Oct. 2016
ed. by Jennifer Liese
buy, $28

Madoff Provenance Project in
'Tell Me What I Mean' at
To__Bridges__, The Bronx
11 Sept - Oct 23 2016
show | beginnings

Chop Shop
curated by Magda Sawon
1-7 March 2016

eBay Test Listings
Armory – ABMB 2015
about | proposte monocrome, rose

It Narratives, incl.
Shanzhai Gursky & Destroyed Richter
Franklin Street Works, Stamford
Sept 5 - Nov 9, 2014
about | link

TheRealHennessy Tweets Paintings, 2014 -

Standard Operating Procedure
about | buy now, 284pp, $15.99

CZRPYR2: The Illustrated Appendix
Canal Zone Richard Prince
YES RASTA 2:The Appeals Court
Decision, plus the Court's
Complete Illustrated Appendix (2013)
about | buy now, 142pp, $12.99

"Exhibition Space" @ apexart, NYC
Mar 20 - May 8, 2013
about, brochure | installation shots

HELP/LESS Curated by Chris Habib
Printed Matter, NYC
Summer 2012
panel &c.

Destroyed Richter Paintings, 2012-
background | making of
"Richteriana," Postmasters Gallery, NYC

Canal Zone Richard
Selected Court Documents
from Cariou v. Prince (2011)
about | buy now, 376pp, $17.99