Title and statement of responsibility area
Robert Smithson collection
General material designation
Other title information
Title statements of responsibility
- Source of title proper: Title based on contents of the collection.
Level of description
Edition statement of responsibility
Class of material specific details area
Statement of scale (cartographic)
Statement of projection (cartographic)
Statement of coordinates (cartographic)
Statement of scale (architectural)
Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)
Dates of creation area
1969 - 1973 (Collection)
- Wheeler, Dennis
1951-1977, 2001-2007 (Creation)
- Smithson, Robert
Physical description area
23 cm of textual records
ca. 43 photographs
ca. 38 negatives
Publisher's series area
Title proper of publisher's series
Parallel titles of publisher's series
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Statement of responsibility relating to publisher's series
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Archival description area
Name of creator
Robert Smithson is one of the canonical figures in 20th century art. He was born in Passaic, New Jersey in 1938 and died in a plane crash near Amarillo, Texas in 1973. Smithson was an early proponent of earthworks or land art and his practice involved drawings, projects and proposals, sculpture, films and critical writings. He has had an extensive exhibition history beginning in 1959 and which continues to present day.
Dennis Wheeler, writer and filmmaker, was born in Vancouver in 1948. He studied art history and English at the University of British Columbia and became an integral part of the Vancouver art community during the late 1960s. His writing and criticism was published in <em>artscanada, Grape</em>, and <em>The Georgia Straight</em>. In 1975 he directed the film <em>Potlatch: A Strict Law Bids Us Dance</em> for the U’mista Cultural Centre. In 1976 he collaborated with Nancy Holt on the video Revolve. Wheeler died of leukemia in 1977.
The Robert Smithson Collection of materials was amassed by Denis Wheeler throughout their friendship.
Wheeler met Smithson in Vancouver in 1969, when Smithson first travelled to the city to investigate possibilities for undertaking outdoor artworks. Over the following months, Wheeler engaged in extended discussions with Smithson regarding his proposal for the <em>Island of Broken Glass</em> (which was to have been undertaken on an island in the Strait of Georgia) and the broader implications of his practice. Wheeler was also present at the installation of Smithson’s <em>Glass Strata with Mulch and Soil</em> and at the <em>Glue Pour</em> Smithson undertook for the Vancouver Art Gallery exhibition <em>955,000</em> in January of 1970. At Smithson’s request, Wheeler photographed the <em>Glue Pour</em> over a number of days with the intent (unrealized) to produce another version of the work. Wheeler also recorded several interviews with Smithson, which have subsequently been published, and published articles on Smithson’s work. Their association continued until Smithson’s untimely death in 1973. Wheeler also maintained a friendship with Smithson’s widow, Nancy Holt, until his own death in 1977.
Scope and content
The material in the Robert Smithson Collection consists of items collected by the late Vancouver writer and filmmaker Dennis Wheeler. All the material is related to Wheeler’s association with the noted American artist Robert Smithson. Materials in the collection include: articles, correspondence, journals, magazines, catalogues, newspaper clippings, photographs, posters, notes, slides, and negatives.
Immediate source of acquisition
Susan Penner. Please use the credit line “Gift of Susan M. Penner” for exhibition labels, publications and promotional materials.
The collection is comprised of eight series. The files have been arranged by record series as the records came to the art gallery with no evident filing system or internal arrangement.
The collection consists of eight series:
Biographical Information & Interviews 1969
Correspondence 1970, 1975
Published Materials 1951-1977
Vancouver Art Gallery 2001-2007.
Language of material
Script of material
Location of originals
Availability of other formats
Restrictions on access
Access to the Archives of the Vancouver Art Gallery is at the discretion of the Librarian/Archivist.
Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication
A list detailing the box and serial numbers, as well as the titles and dates of all folders in the collection is available in the appendix. Further notation indicates the record forms contained in the folders.
No further accruals expected
Standard number area
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Rules or conventions
Rules for Archival Description
Level of detail
Dates of creation, revision and deletion
Language of description