Randy Kennedy has an article on the making of Robert Smithson’s Floating Island, a tree-filled barge which will chug around lower Manhattan for a week or so:
Smithson’s project is just as intimately connected to Central Park, which he regarded, in all its artificial pastorality, as a conceptual artwork of its own. (He revered Frederick Law Olmsted and said that he found him more interesting than Duchamp.) While not nearly as monumental as Smithson’s most famous work, “Spiral Jetty,” a 1,500-foot-long curlicue of basalt jutting into the Great Salt Lake in Utah, the island – which resembles a rectangular chunk of Central Park, neatly cookie-cuttered out – is a further twist on Smithson’s career-long fascination with displacement. This generally meant taking art outdoors and bringing pieces of the land back indoors, into galleries. In the case of “Floating Island,” the displacement is all outdoors, an exploration of land and water, urban and rural, real and recreated, center and periphery. As a paean to Central Park, it can be seen as a kind of artificial model of an artificial model of nature.
It’s Not Easy Making Art That Floats [nyt]
Even cooler, though, at nytimes.com/robertsmithson, Times makes a raft of its Smithson coverage, dating back to 1982, available (for who knows how long). [greg.org coverage of Smithson, alas, only goes back a couple of years.]