Robert Smithson was born in Passaic, New Jersey, on January 2, 1938. In 1953, as a high-school student, he won a scholarship to the Art Students League of New York, where he studied in the evenings for the next two years, also taking classes at the Brooklyn Museum Art School in 1956. Smithson’s first solo exhibition was in 1959, at the Artists Gallery, New York. In 1964, he began to produce what he considered his first mature works of writing and sculpture. In 1973, Smithson died in a plane crash in Amarillo, Texas, while working on the earthwork Amarillo Ramp. Major retrospectives of his work have been organized by the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York (1980); the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Oslo (1999); and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2004). Recent solo exhibitions on his work include Robert Smithson in Texas at the Dallas Museum of Art (2013–14) and Robert Smithson: New Jersey Earthworks at the Montclair Art Museum, New Jersey (2014). In 1999, through the generosity of the artist Nancy Holt, Smithson’s widow, and the Estate of Robert Smithson, Smithson’s Spiral Jetty was donated to Dia Art Foundation.