Robert Smithson – Spiral Jetty

Beginning in the 1960s, a number of American artists, including Walter De Maria, Michael Heizer, Nancy Holt, and Robert Smithson, chose to depart from the confines of gallery and museum spaces to create artworks directly in the landscape. Drawn to desolate and remote locations, from abandoned industrial sites to uncultivated deserts and mountains, these artists created often colossal sculptural interventions in nature, inaugurating the movement of Land art.

Beginning in the 1960s, a number of American artists, including Walter De Maria, Michael Heizer, Nancy Holt, and Robert Smithson, chose to depart from the confines of gallery and museum spaces to create artworks directly in the landscape. Drawn to desolate and remote locations, from abandoned industrial sites to uncultivated deserts and mountains, these artists created often colossal sculptural interventions in nature, inaugurating the movement of Land art.

Smithson often asserted that by responding to the landscape, rather than imposing itself upon it, Spiral Jetty is a site to actively walk on rather than a sculpture to behold. The act of traversing the artwork was enacted in Smithson’s 1970 film of the same title, which was made in the months following the completion of the sculpture. Alongside aerial footage of Spiral Jetty is a poetic sequence of the artist running along the spiral to rest at its innermost coil. In an interview from 1971, Smithson explained how the visitor’s experience of space shifts as one walks through the work: a “constriction or concentration exists within the inner coils . . . whereas on the outer edge you’re kind of thrown out, you’re aware of the horizons and how they echo through the Jetty.”2

Dia Art Foundation

 

Here’s some amazing footage from the creation of Spiral Jetty that includes Smithson sunning the Spiral

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OtwXvKtXwDw

Here’s another work in which Smithson explores the relationship between materials and time.
Asphalt Rundown

 

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