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.
"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