The Cosmic Address


In an unpublished fragment of Robert Smithson’s writings on Donald Judd from the late 1960s, the former reveals his antagonism to the latter’s ‘literal’ or ‘interesting’ art. For Smithson, art was not to be interesting, which always presupposed a human addressee, preserving the personal, anthropocentric sense of authority, but to be ‘a cosmos’, addressed to the universe rather than only the human. Contra Judd’s humanism, which recentred the subject, Smithson held that his work’s scientific concerns enabled it to go past the phenomenology embraced by minimalism. I want to propose that Smithson’s proposition of a cosmic address can give meaning to an art that does not rely on human subjectivity as a final guarantor…