Robert Smithson was born in Passaic, New Jersey, in 1938. During his first ten years, he lived in Rutherford, then moved with his family to Clifton. These are suburban towns in a bleak, shapeless zone which left Smithson with the conviction that traditional sentiments about the American land are "rinky-dink . . . Mickey Mouse. . . . People of my generation have grown up in the industrial blight, and it's not like rustic woodland that we remember." There were, nonetheless, picturesque vistas and sublime panoramas to visit.