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New Foundation Aims to Further Legacy of Robert Smithson and Nancy Holt

Robert Smithson and Nancy Holt at Spiral Jetty, Great Salt Lake, Utah, 1970.

GIANFRANCO GORGONI/©HOLT-SMITHSON FOUNDATION/LICENSED BY VAGA, NEW YORK, NY

Drawing on the legacies of two artists whose lives and work were intertwined, the new Holt-Smithson Foundation has been established to honor Nancy Holt and Robert Smithson and promulgate their ideas. Appointed to lead the new endeavor is Lisa Le Feuvre, who assumes her post as the foundation’s first executive director after seven years at the research arm of the Henry Moore Foundation in the United Kingdom. For the time being, the Holt-Smithson Foundation will be based in Santa Fe, New Mexico—but the site, as with effectively every other aspect of the organization’s plans, is open to change.

“We are coming into being now—we’re right at the beginning of the whole process,” Le Feuvre told ARTnews. “We’ve got a clear idea about why we exist: to build out the legacies of two generative bodies of work. Both Holt and Smithson were engaged in an activity of open-ended research, and that is what our foundation is going to be for. We are going to exist to continue their creative and investigative spirits.”

Lisa Le Feuvre, executive director of the Holt-Smithson Foundation.

COURTESY CLAUDINE HARTZEL.

Le Feuvre began in her new role two weeks ago, and a website has been established with background on the artists and a list of the foundation’s board—including as board president Matthew Coolidge, the founder of the Center for Land Use Development in Los Angeles.

“Our foundation is about drawing on the past to think about the present and the future,” Le Feuvre said. At the core of the concept is “memory and inspiration,” she said—and a desire to “get people talking about Nancy and Bob’s work and keep that conversation going—but also get that discussion moving in new directions. One reason their work is so important to the present is that it wrestles with difficulty, and we’re determined the foundation is going to make a difference.”

The idea for a foundation of the sort was written into Holt’s will, according to Le Feuvre, and the endowment for it comes from both artists’ estates. (When Smithson died at the age of 35 in 1973, Holt assumed leadership of his estate; she passed away in 2014 at 75.)

“She wanted the foundation to do what was necessary and urgent to every version of the present, and also to support artists,” Le Feuvre said.

As director, Le Feuvre will work from Santa Fe, where Holt lived, for the next six months, while the enterprise figures out where it makes sense to be based. “We see ourselves as becoming an international foundation,” she said. As for imminent action, that is still being sorted out. “We are working on making sure we’re clear about what our values are, and our programming will come out of that.”

“Both of them explored our relationship with the planet,” Le Feuvre added, in reference to Holt and Smithson, “and constantly expanded the idea of artistic practice.”

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