New York City, New York, United States
Born in 1948 in New York City and raised in Lawrence, Kansas. Smith studied at Grinnell College in Iowa. Her career in the arts started in 1968, while an undergraduate summer intern at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington D.C.
In 1968-1969 she participated in the Art History/Museum Studies track of the Whitney Independent Study Program (ISP) where she met and developed an affinity for Donald Judd and became interested in minimal art. After graduation, she returned to New York City in 1971 to take a secretarial job at the Museum of Modern Art, followed by part-time assistant jobs to Judd in the early 1970s, and Paula Cooper for the first three years that she had her gallery, beginning in 1972.
While at the Paula Cooper Gallery Smith wrote exhibition reviews for Artforum, and subsequently for Art in America, the Village Voice and other publications. She has written and spoken about Judd on many occasions throughout her career, and upon his death in 1995, penned his New York Times obituary.
Smith began writing for The New York Times in 1986, and became the newspaper's co-chief art critic in 2011. She has written many essays for catalogues and monographs on contemporary artists, and wrote the featured essay in the 1975 Judd catalogue raisonné published by the National Gallery of Canada. She writes not only about contemporary art but about the visual arts in general, including decorative arts, popular and outsider art, design and architecture.
Smith is a longtime advocate for museums to be free and open to the public. In 2012, she received an honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from the San Francisco Art Institute. In 2017, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago awarded Smith her second honorary doctorate.
- 2003 Frank Jewett Mather Award for Art Criticism, College Art Association.
- 2009 AICA/USA Distinguished Critic Lecture.
- 2014 Marina Kellen French Distinguished Visitor, The American Academy in Berlin.
- "Roberta Smith". The New York Times. 2018-03-15. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-03-18.
- Christopher Bolen, "Roberta Smith & Jerry Saltz", Interview magazine, undated.
- "Roberta Smith and Holland Cotter Named Co-Chief Art Critics of The New York Times". Observer. 2011-09-14. Retrieved 2018-03-18.
- Sandler, Irving (2009-04-06). "Roberta Smith with Irving Sandler". The Brooklyn Rail. Retrieved 2019-09-11.
I’m afraid this was especially true when I went to Grinnell [College in Grinnell, Iowa]. I wrote the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington to see about being in their summer intern program. They accepted me, although they were a bit startled to have someone come all the way from Kansas
- Art., Whitney Museum of American (2008). Independent study program : 40 years : Whitney Museum of American Art, 1968-2008 (1st ed.). New York: Whitney Museum of American Art. ISBN 9780874271584. OCLC 262737522.
- "Local History: Donald Judd Design Objects". Judd Foundation. Retrieved 2019-01-18.
- Smith, Roberta (2006-04-24). "Christie's Presale Show: Light and Space Enough to Really See Judd". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-01-18.
- Smith, Roberta (1995-02-26). "ART; The World According to Judd". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-01-18.
- Stevens, Mary Clare. "Roberta Smith with Jarrett Earnest". The Brooklyn Rail. Retrieved 2019-01-18.
- Pilat, Kasia (2018-02-28). "From 'Vicious' to Celebratory: The Times's Reviews of Judy Chicago's 'The Dinner Party'". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-03-18.
- Cotter, Holland; Smith, Roberta (2018-01-04). "The Met Should Be Open to All. The New Pay Policy Is a Mistake". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-01-18.
- "Roberta Smith to Accept Honorary Doctorate, Holland Cotter at Work on Book". Observer. 2012-05-02. Retrieved 2019-01-18.
- "SAIC Announces its 2017 Commencement Speaker and Honorary Doctorate Recipients". School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Retrieved 2019-01-18.
- "Roberta Smith & Jerry Saltz". Interview Magazine. 2013-12-09. Retrieved 2019-01-18.
- "Jerry Saltz and the Future of the Critic-Artist | artnet News". artnet News. 2016-12-09. Retrieved 2018-03-18.
- "Awards". The College Art Association. Retrieved 11 October 2010.
- "The Vera List Center for Arts and Politics | Roberta Smith Criticism A Life Sentence". www.veralistcenter.org. Retrieved 2018-03-18.
- "Roberta Smith - American Academy". American Academy. Retrieved 2018-03-18.