smithson dallas fort worth

one of the truly greatest liberties of being an artist is having the ability (for lack of a better word) to envision a different world, or a world as you would like it – sure, they’re going to build that airport, so it might as well look like this! Like I said there’s really no one word to describe this notion. Perhaps ability, but also vision, courage, audacity, they all apply.

Such as Robert Smithson’s vision-liberty-audacious drawing of the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, from 1967, two years before construction on the airport began (it opened in January 1974). Approximately 150 (I started to count but didn’t get too far) ‘wandering earth mounds and gravel paths’ populate the area around the terminals, runways and towers that would become the airport proper, rather than filling it in with additional infrastructure and forfeited land as it is now.

One can only imagine what it would have been like flying in to see the land rolling, bubbling, wandering around one’s vision as one slices through the air above.

An imposing idea that never would have been ratified given the rivalry and difficulty already between the two cities to agree on a joint-airport location and design. Still, this drawing on blueprint typifies all that can be great about being an artist, and suggests a world of possibilities. A world outside the gallery where contemporary art actually transforms the landscape and works alongside architecture. Instead we are left with a world where that same architecture has merely become an encasement for a type of ‘public art’, where the airport has simply become another type of display space for the work of other contemporary masters. Poppycock.