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Photo: New York Times

Senior Art Critic, The New York Times

Marina Kellen French Distinguished Visitor - Class of Spring 2014

Roberta Smith is the co-chief art critic at the New York Times, for whom she has written art criticism for nearly thirty years. Smith became the first woman to hold the title. She and critic Holland Cotter filled the position vacated by Michael Kimmelman, in 2011. She joined the New York Times staff in 1986.


Born in New York City, Smith was raised in Lawrence, Kansas, and earned her BA from Grinnell College. She was introduced to the art world in the late 1960s, first as an intern at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, in Washington, DC, and later as a participant in the Whitney’s Independent Study Program. During her time at the Whitney, she became familiar with the New York art world, and she met the artist Donald Judd, who would figure large in her early career. Smith wrote about Judd’s development from two to three dimensions, between 1954 and 1964, and began collecting and archiving his writings.


Smith began working at the Paula Cooper Gallery in 1972, at which time she also began writing for Artforum, the New York Times, Art in America, and the Village Voice, where she has written important considerations of Philip Guston’s late paintings, the sculptures of Richard Artschwager, and Scott Burton’s performances. Smith has written many essays for catalogues and monographs on contemporary artists, as well as on the decorative arts, popular and outsider art, design, and architecture. In 2003, the College Art Association awarded her with the Frank Jewett Mather Award for Art Criticism.

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