Nancy Holt, 1938-2014




Nancy Holt, a ground-breaking artist most famous for her Land art installations, passed away on Feb. 8 at New York’s Memorial Sloan Kettering hospital. She was 75 years old and had been ill, for four months, with leukemia.

The news is confirmed by DeeDee Halleck, who recently worked on the postproduction of a film Holt began in 1973 as she, dealer Tony Shafrazi and artist Richard Serra completed Amarillo Ramp, an earthwork that Holt’s husband Robert Smithson had begun before he died in a plane crash earlier that year while surveying sites for this piece. The film is currently on view in the exhibition “Robert Smithson in Texas” at the Dallas Museum of Art (through Apr. 27); it will also screen at New York’s Anthology Film Archives on Apr. 10.

Holt is best known for Sun Tunnels (1973-76), an installation in Utah’s Great Basin Desert of four massive concrete culverts pierced with holes that align with different constellations. In a 1977 essay about this work, Holt explained that she “wanted to bring the vast space of the desert back to human scale.”

She also made influential films and videos throughout her career. For Revolve (1977), Holt used multiple camera angles to record her friend, filmmaker and curator Dennis Wheeler, as he narrated his battle with leukemia.