Robert Smithson


Spiral Jetty is an earthwork sculpture constructed in April 1970 that is considered to be the most important work of American sculptor Robert Smithson. Smithson documented the construction of the sculpture in a 32-minute color film also titled Spiral Jetty. Built on the northeastern shore of the Great Salt Lake near Rozel Point in Utah entirely of mud, salt crystals, and basalt rocks, Spiral Jetty forms a 1,500-foot-long (460 m), 15-foot-wide (4.6 m) counterclockwise coil jutting from the shore of the lake. In 1999, the artwork was donated to Dia Art Foundation. Since its initial construction, those interested in its fate have dealt with questions of proposed changes in land use in the area surrounding the sculpture. The sculpture is built of mud, precipitated salt crystals, and basalt rocks. The sculpture forms a 1,500-foot-long (460 m), 15-foot-wide (4.6 m) counterclockwise coil jutting from the shore of the lake. The sculpture is sometimes visible and sometimes submerged, depending upon the water level of the Great Salt Lake. Smithson reportedly chose the Rozel Point site based on the blood-red color of the water and its connection with the primordial sea. The red hue of the water is due to the presence of salt-tolerant bacteria and algae that thrive in the extreme 27 percent salinity of the lake’s north arm, which was isolated from freshwater sources by the building of a causeway by the Southern Pacific Railroad in 1959. Smithson was reportedly attracted to the Rozel Point site because of the stark anti-pastoral beauty and industrial remnants from nearby Golden Spike National Historic Site, as well as an old pier and a few unused oil rigs. While observing the construction of the piece from a helicopter, Smithson reportedly remarked ‘et in Utah ego’ as a counterpoint to the pastoral Baroque painting et in Arcadia ego by Nicolas Poussin. To move the rock into the lake, Smithson hired Bob Phillips of nearby Ogden, Utah, who used two dump trucks, a large tractor, and a front end loader to haul the 6,650 tons of rock and earth into the lake. It is reported that Smithson had a difficult time convincing a contractor to accept the unusual proposal. Spiral Jetty was the first of his pieces to require the acquisition of land rights and earthmoving equipment. He began work on the jetty in April 1970. The work was actually constructed twice; the first time requiring six days. …”
W – Spiral Jetty, W – Robert Smithson, W –Holt/Smithson Foundation
NY Times: The Art at the End of the World
Dia: Robert Smithson, Spiral Jetty
artnet
YouTube: Robert Smithson, Spiral Jetty, Spiral Jetty, Sun Tunnels, and Salt, Nancy Holt, Sun Tunnels

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