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.

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Posts from May 2016, in reverse chronological order

Older: April 2016

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Chop Shop
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