Smithson became widely known with his ‘earthwork’ Spiral Jetty (1970), but his oeuvre is characterized by an almost bewildering proliferation of innovative practices and forms that repeatedly defied prevailing conceptions of the bounds of art, from the simple displacement of materials at his ‘sites’ and ‘non-sites’, to magazine works, slide-lectures and extended architectural projects. In this respect, it is emblematic of both the experimentalism and increasingly conceptual character of art in the 1960s, to which many artists are turning, once again, today. Furthermore, his work was accompanied by extensive writings and interviews, the full critical significance of which for current practices remains to be explored.

Peter Osborne (b. 1958) is Professor of Modern European Philosophy and director of the Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy, Middlesex University, London (since 1994). He is also editor of the journal Radical Philosophy (since 1983). He is the author of – among other books – The Politics of Time: Modernity and Avant-Garde (Verso, 1995); Philosophy in Cultural Theory (Routledge, 2000); Conceptual Art (Phaidon, 2002); and Marx (Granta, 2005). Additionally, he is a contributor to Afterall, Art History, October, Oxford Art Journal, and various catalogues including Manifesta 5 (San Sebastian, 2004); Time Zones (Tate Modern, 2004); and Zones of Contact (Sydney Biennial, 2006).