In 1970 Robert Smithson (1938-1973), one of the most innovative and provocative artists of the twentieth century, created the landmark earthwork Spiral Jetty at Rozel Point on Utah's Great Salt Lake. This dramatic and highly influential work forms a coil 1,500 feet long and 15 feet wide and stretches out counterclockwise into the lake's translucent red water. Composed of black basalt rocks and earth, the sculpture comprises the materials of its location: mud, salt crystals, rocks, water.
The contributors to this comprehensive publication consider the sculpture in relation to its eponymous companions—a text work and a film. These essays situate this renowned series of works alongside Smithson's critical writings, proposals, drawings, sources, and models. Amply illustrated with archival and new photographs of the Jetty and many comparative illustrations, this book makes evident why Smithson's art and writings have had such a powerful impact on art and art theory for over thirty years.
Lynne Cooke has been Curator at Dia Art Foundation since 1991. An art historian and critic, she has published extensively on contemporary art and taught in various institutions. Karen Kelly is Director of Publications at Dia Art Foundation, where she has edited numerous books on contemporary art.
“Spiral Jetty truly comes to life through the book’s stunning array of photographs. . . . Owing to the [Great Salt] lake’s high salinity, abundance of colorful algae and fluctuating water levels, the jetty looks completely different from year to year, and this shifting appearance lends the work—and this volume—its most forceful aesthetic punch.”—Publishers Weekly
“Marking the 30th anniversary of the completion of Smithson's massive earthwork in Utah's Great Salt Lake, this intriguing book looks into the (sometimes quirky) philosophy that propelled the late artist to alter the Western landscape in a big way. . . . Stunning photographs document the eerie moods and strange coloration of the evolving artwork.”—Sheila Farr Seattle Times
“An exhaustive study and review that includes related works and writings on his groundbreaking earthwork. . .” “Everything you wanted to know - and more - about this 20th Century phenomenon.”—Art Times / Css Publications
“This book is a keeper.”—The Magazine
“This book is a splendidly thorough account of a work that people still find resonant. It mixes the archival and the new in an illuminating way and the recent photos—salt-crusted rocks in a rose-coloured lake—are stunning.”—Architects' Journal
"One of the old themes of American art that got a new lease on life in the later 1960s and 1970s was the apprehension of nature's sublimity. It reappeared, in a secular form, in the Earth Art movement.... The best-known work of earth art...was created by Robert Smithson [whose] great success was a work which virtually no one in the art world ever saw except in the art magazines."—Robert Hughes, author of American Vision