Spiral Jetty. But somehow we can’t stop wanting to pause time’s effects. Tassie knows people who visit the site on the same date every year. Spiral Jetty is on the northeast shore of the Great Salt Lake, in the U.S. state of Utah. It’s inert and quite drab, isolated, somewhat elegant in its blunt simplicity, but essentially pointless, though it does somewhat humanize the remote and desolate site. Spiral Jetty is a work of art that was created at the north end of the Great Salt Lake by Robert Smithson in 1970. Smithson documented the construction of the sculpture in a 32-minute color film also titled Spiral Jetty. The Jetty is a site-specific work, meant to interact with changing conditions of the surrounding water, land, and atmosphere. It was really quite beautiful. “We’ve evolved to think of that work, and other works of land art, as gateways to a heightened awareness about where you are.”. The construction of Spiral Jetty was documented on a 32-minute color film, written and directed by Robert Smithson and his wife Nancy Holt and funded by Douglas Christmas and Virginia Dwan. People are often surprised to learn that the site is not regulated or monitored — “there’s nothing keeping you from being there at midnight,” Kivland said. “And you can never get that experience from reading about it. To learn more or opt-out, read our Cookie Policy. And since Loe was in contact with others who oversaw “Spiral Jetty,” such as Holt and the Center for Land Use Interpretation, Phillips became a “Spiral Jetty” spokesman of sorts, speaking at various public events. Robert Smithson was becoming increasingly well known in the New York art world during the 1960s when he conceptualized “Spiral Jetty.” Smithson wanted to make art that wasn’t confined to a normal gallery space — an extension of the “phenomenology” concept that previous artists like Post-Impressionist painter Paul Cezanne had explored. Made of basalt rock, this natural sculpture is an inspiring desert icon. See learning resources here. It is made from local black basalt rock, which can turn white in some places, due to extended exposure to the ebbs and flows of the salty water. When Smithson made the work, what he was doing was pretty simple, conceptually speaking: he took a piece of Utah, and made it art. While the casual audience might think of “Spiral Jetty” as just the sculpture, the art world holds these accompanying video and written pieces in high esteem. The New York Times claimed it to be one of the most amazing art pieces constructed on earth. Left: Spiral Jetty. A further irony—with plans for nearby oil-drilling upsetting artists, eco-activists and community people, preserving the unnatural jetty form as an icon of Earth art has become a wedge against extracting this natural earth product from the ground. Don’t be surprised if someone wants to cover it with a plastic bubble-dome, or even redo it indoors in an artificial pond. You can’t get that experience from watching the film. Right: Rozel Point. However, little environmental consciousness seems involved in Spiral Jetty. Smithson’s early death, combined with “Spiral Jetty” being submerged underwater from 1972-1993, added mystery and notoriety to Smithson’s work as the years passed. It was created in 1970, and worth a visit while it's not submerged. And because “Spiral Jetty” went underwater so quickly after it was completed, it remained relatively unknown to most Utahns, according to Hikmet Loe, a “Spiral Jetty” scholar and adjunct coordinator at Westminster College in Salt Lake City. At the current MoCA exhibit, we can view Smithson’s own film of the construction process of unloading tons of rock and soil into the simple form; this inscribes the site with the familiar anonymous mark, “I am here!” A man tries to override irregular, messy Nature with a perfect arithmetic figure. I nitially, it took six days to construct, but Smithson didn’t like the result. The most famous jetty is probably Spiral Jetty, a large sculpture created by the artist Robert Smithson in 1970. Robert Smithson's earthwork Spiral Jetty (1970) is located at Rozel Point peninsula on the northeastern shore of Great Salt Lake. This further separates Smithson’s jetty from the natural world. He knew a piece like “Spiral Jetty” wouldn’t stay pristine. Like much Earth art, Spiral Jetty is a tribute to the daring and imagination of the artist who goes from concept to actual product—the fact that it is done at all is often what constitutes its significance. These supplemental experiences are enriching, but through it all, it’s important to remember one of Smithson’s motivations for creating “Spiral Jetty” in the first place: to get people experiencing art in the natural world. Undoubtedly the most famous large-scale earthwork of the period, it has come to epitomize Land art. In 1972, Smithson made a film about the Jetty, also titled “Spiral Jetty,” rife with historical images intended to situate the Spiral Jetty in a larger scope of historical events. I could tell, just from that experience, it held incredible significance for her.”. Smithson constructed the 4,500 457-meter (1,500-foot) jetty out of rock and earth. “That’s the interesting thing about land art, is that its meaning changes as the world changes around it,” Coolidge said. Spiral Jetty from above, hill nearby A Visit to Spiral Jetty – A Magical Place Written by Cathy Breslaw August 17, 2018. Spiral Jetty is a "portrait" of Smithson's monumental earthwork of the same name at Rozel Point in the Great Salt Lake, Utah. Spiral Jetty is state artwork of Utah The spiral is a universal image Spiral Jetty made with dump trucks and bulldozers Inspired by the Great Serpent mound in Ohio. Interacting with such a huge piece requires a shift in perception, which then shifts how one experiences the entire world that surrounds it. Please also read our Privacy Notice and Terms of Use, which became effective December 20, 2019. I doubt permission to construct it could be granted today, even on private land. Robert Smithson designed and directed the construction of his iconic work the Spiral Jetty in April 1970. However, on closer inspection of the spiral-building video, it’s as if we are close-up, eye-level witnesses to the formation of something metanatural, an archetypical absolute commanded into shape by a master builder and his crew. Smithson support groups want to restore and maintain the jetty, rescuing it from entropy. Preservation collaboration. But in the ’90s, when ‘Spiral Jetty’ becomes visible, that’s when local people start to get excited.”. While the casual audience might think of “Spiral Jetty” as just the sculpture, the art world holds these accompanying video and written pieces in high esteem. Shepard Fairey sued Barak Obama for using his original image. “I like to think of (‘Spiral Jetty’) as a point of embarkation for looking at the region, and thinking of it not as an end itself — not a dead end as you walk around the spiral,” he continued. What’s an Earth artist to do who may have designed his eco-benign work to have just a few seasons under the desert sun? But that original contrast between the spiral’s black rocks and the wine-colored water has softened as time has encrusted the jetty with salts. “Spiral Jetty” has continued to have an unusual life since it reappeared in the 1990s. The latter quickly usurps the former as I realize today is September 25th, a day I’ve waited for my entire life (metaphorically speaking) and actually bee… But its deliberate unnatural contrast with the land and algae–reddened water is what stands out: It resonates with nothing. That piece of art is the “Spiral Jetty” — a swirling, 7,000-ton landmark off Rozel Point in northern Utah, built of salt crystal, mud and basalt rocks, that stretches more than 1,500 feet into the Great Salt Lake. In the 1990s, Loe focused her master’s thesis on the local reaction to “Spiral Jetty.” She interviewed Bob Phillips, the Ogden-based contractor Smithson hired to physically construct “Spiral Jetty” in 1970. “But there is no next time, because then Smithson dies in this plane crash,” Loe said. According to Smithson’s writings, though, that was kind of the point. It’s 15 feet wide and coils for 1,500 feet near the lake edge. She remained closely involved with her husband’s work until her own death in 2014. Using rudimentary engineering, Smithson traced out the spiral with flags and hired a reluctant construction company to fill it in with local soil and black basalt rock. “Just the amount of work, and how can that many tons of basalt and earth be pushed and shaped along a shore? Or it may be a form of creative play, now augmented by machines. However, a question arises these days about how environmentally aware and conscientious are land- or Earth artists? True False. The Bulgarian-born artist Christo has involved large numbers of people in the planning and construction of such mammoth alfresco art projects as Valley Curtain (1972; Rifle Gap, Colo.). According to Loe, Phillips often talked about the last time he saw Smithson. Spiral Jetty is an earthwork sculpture on the northeastern shores of the Great Salt Lake, Utah, United States.Built in April 1970 by American sculptor Robert Smithson, the earthwork sculpture, which is also referred to as earth art or environmental art, is a counterclockwise coil constructed of mud, salt crystals and basalt rocks that is 1,500 ft long and 15 ft wide. Be respectful. Smithson did many types of art, but he is most widely known for his earthworks, including Spiral Jetty. As “Spiral Jetty” remained underwater for 20-plus years, its legend grew — thanks in part to separate written and video pieces about the work, which Smithson also created. Kivland said the Dia Art Foundation regularly gets “Spiral Jetty” inquiries from all over the world. Phillips declined, saying maybe they’d go the next time Smithson and Holt were in town. They travelled to “Spiral Jetty,” Kivland said, “and (Holt) just grabbed a chair, pulled it all the way to the side of the parking lot, and she just sat there for hours, to ensure that she had her time with him. Here’s what its experts told us. The Utah Museum of Fine Art has partnered with the Dia Art Foundation since 2012 to educate people about “Spiral Jetty.” Whitney Tassie, UMFA’s senior curator of modern and contemporary art, said she personally visits “Spiral Jetty” four or five times a year. Until Loe’s interview with Phillips in 1996, he hadn’t publicly spoken about his work. 50 years in, ‘Spiral Jetty’ continues to inspire and confound. Smithson was also fascinated by entropy — a concept about decay that gained increased prominence during the middle part of the 20th century. Spiral Jetty is an earthwork sculpture constructed in April 1970 that is considered to be the central work of the American sculptor Robert Smithson. According to Matthew Coolidge, president of the Center for Land Use Interpretation, Smithson fundamentally understood the dual relationship between construction and destruction — “sides of the same coin, and you couldn’t have one without the other,” Coolidge told the Deseret News. The salt water out here is usually tinted red or purple due to bacteria and algae that love the extremely salty water. That’s when Loe’s interest started, as well. Books • Art historian Hikmet Sidney Loe chronicles the many influences on … That’s what human beings had done to the Earth for millennia—left their mark, indelible or not. “Every time we as Utahns go and visit this, it gains meaning and significance,” she said. I’m immediately beset by the eternal morning conflict: ten more minutes of sleep vs. the rush of adrenaline that wants to start the adventures that await. In the early 1960s some artists abandoned the wall, the gallery and the museum for altering the landscape outside. Using over six thousand tons of black basalt rocks and earth from the site, Smithson formed a coil 1,500 feet long and 15 feet wide that … QUESTION 1 1. Changeable, perhaps even erasable, by time, how permanent should Earth art be? And for Holt, overseeing it all became a lifelong endeavor. subtractive sculpture made from one of the largest pieces of Jade ever found Like much Earth art, Spiral Jetty is a tribute to the daring and imagination of the artist who goes from concept to actual product—the fact that it is done at all is often what constitutes its significance. And two recent events in Los Angeles prompt me to make such an assessment: the installation of Michael Heizer’s rock, Levitating Mass, at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and a complementary retrospective, Ends of the Earth: Land Art to 1974 at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA). We learn that Smithson, who died in 1973 in a plane crash while searching for new sites, seems to have wanted the work to disappear, through natural entropy, a concept he discussed extensively. As “Spiral Jetty” remained underwater for 20-plus years, its legend grew — thanks in part to separate written and video pieces about the work, which Smithson also created. (Indeed, right now, it’s under water.) This fade to white may qualify as part of the disappearing eco-act he had in mind. The gap between the spiral’s curves is kept constant, so it’s an Archimedean spiral, not the logarithmic one usually found in nature, as in a chambered nautilus, a popular symbol of organic growth. It would then express a potent environmental ethic—the reconquest of human works by persistent natural processes. This may signal ownership, dominance, or an attempt to connect or infuse nature’s power into the human creature. How can an artist do such a thing these days?” she said. Coiling out into the Great Salt Lake in Utah, Robert Smithson’s ‘Spiral Jetty’ was a groundbreaking work of Land Art in 1970. To create the 457 metre long spiral, Smithson bulldozed material from the shore into the lake. However, 1,500 ft tall counterclockwise spiral can only be seen when the water level is lower than 4,197 ft. But locally, there was no traction. Paranthropus boisei, a little-known member of the... © 2020 Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Honor Society. It was this really interesting sort of connection that these two men had with each other, that Bob Phillips always valued.”. It was covered by the water only two years after completion. Dia Foundation. Four major figures and four key works help us assess the evolving role of environmental consciousness in Earth art. The Spiral Jetty in Utah is a human-made art installation that juts out into the Great Salt Lake and is only visible when the water levels dwindle. Time scale becomes Spiral Jetty’s transcendent theme, an arts theme—the “Vanity of Human Wishes.” Imposed unnatural forms succumb to inexorable natural powers. What the rising and falling lake waters don’t destroy, the “lone and level” sands of time surely will. Completed in April 1970, Spiral Jetty is an iconic earthwork and Smithson's most renowned piece. Check out Betty Krulik's ANTIQUES ROADSHOW appraisal of this 1970 Robert Smithson Spiral Jetty Plans from Salt Lake City, Hour 2! In this photo from 2002, the Spiral Jetty, a piece of art built in the 1970's along the shore of the Great Salt Lake is more visible recently due to low water levels. There’s something underworld about this particular spiral.”. It took six days. It is 1500 feet in length and is about 15 feet wide made from sand, dirt and basalt rock. A loud abrasive buzzing bellows from the nightstand and I raise my head, only to be blinded by the red light emanating from the small—in size, not volume—machine against a backdrop of pure blackness. We reserve the right to remove comments. Drought and rain govern how this work of art is seen. The environment yields to the fiats of the engineer-geometer, Daedalus in Utah. UMFA is also presenting aerial “Spiral Jetty” photography by Italian photographer Gianfranco Gorgoni, and displaying Smithson’s 1968 piece “Nonsite, Site Uncertain.” Folks who have their own “Spiral Jetty” memories are encouraged to submit them via the UMFA website. In an artistic context — and especially with a work like “Spiral Jetty” — phenomenology is about interacting with art works much larger than one’s own body, and having one’s senses heightened because of it. On Oct. 3, UMFA will host a special community meet-up at “Spiral Jetty.”. In 1971, for one of a growing number of outdoor projects, he took a 20-year lease on 10 acres (4 hectares) of lakefront land at the Great Salt Lake in Utah, and, using hired contractors, he made a huge spiral extending 1,500 feet (460 metres) into the lake. The jetty is surely a quaint monument to simple engineering, and a solid bit of environmental process art with a hefty dash of cool public relations. The Deseret News spoke with a few experts on the enormous landmark. SALT LAKE CITY — The New York Times called it “the most famous work of American art that almost nobody has ever seen in the flesh.” The artist who designed it said it was “the edge of the sun, a boiling curve, an explosion rising into a fiery prominence.” And the woman who financed it said it was “very primal, almost a kind of Luciferian sort of art. Spiral Jetty is the land…When Smithson made the work, what he was doing was pretty simple, conceptually speaking: he took a piece of Utah, and made it art.” Yet as several groups and foundations add themselves to the list of parties interested in taking over the lease, the future of the jetty remains in limbo. You get that experience with your body when you’re there.”, Copyright © 2020 Deseret News Publishing Company. As for in-person experiences, UMFA visitors will be able to watch Holt’s 16 mm film “Utah Sequences,” which she shot at the “Spiral Jetty” site in 1970, once the public coronavirus quarantines are lifted. Click "American Scientist" to access home page. As for the initial awareness locally, Loe said “people just didn’t know about it. It was above water from 1993-1996, then submerged again from 1996-2002. It’s a minimalist flat form imposed on the lake, visible when the level’s low—a useless berm, a raised driveway, a widget on a stalk. Spiral Jetty is not an easy place to find.This renowned Land Art sculpture is located in Rozel Point, at the Great Salt Lake. Smithson documented the construction of the sculpture in a 32-minute color film also titled Spiral Jetty. A piece of art rarely spends some of its 'life' submerged under a lake, but that is precisely what this jetty is, and does. It’s a minimalist flat form imposed on the lake, visible when the level’s low—a useless berm, a raised driveway, a widget on a stalk. Three years after “Spiral Jetty” was completed, Smithson died in a plane crash while surveying sites for another land art piece, “Amarillo Ramp,” in Texas. It would decay and change, just as its surroundings would decay and change. Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty in 1970 put the modern Earth-art movement in high relief. Holt’s art, including the land art piece “Sun Tunnels” in Utah’s Box Elder County, didn’t start getting proper recognition till the end of her life. Spiral Jetty is the land: it doesn’t just sit atop the land. Smithson wished to explore that duality in his work. Robert Smithson, Spiral Jetty, 1970, Rozel Point, Great Salt Lake, Utah, 1500 (if unwound) x 15 foot spiral of basalt, sand, and soil ©Holt-Smithson Foundation Speakers: Dr. Steven Zucker and Dr. Beth Harris 4:00 A.M. Oy. Other articles where Spiral Jetty is discussed: environmental sculpture: …extend a rock and dirt spiral, 1,500 feet (460 m) long, into Great Salt Lake in Utah (Spiral Jetty; 1970). Spiral Jetty is an earthwork sculpture constructed in April, 1970 that is considered to be the central work of American sculptor Robert Smithson. In Spiral Jetty, Smithson manipulated rocks, earth, and algae to form a 1500 foot long spiral land form that jutted into the Great Salt Lake. Made of black basalt rocks and earth gathered from the site, Spiral Jetty is a 15-foot-wide coil that stretches more than 1,500 feet into the lake. The water at this shallow, dead-end corner of the lake has become polluted and extra salty from runoff, so it seems nothing’s damaged here from the spiral’s intrusion. Today, Spiral Jetty is still art and it’s still a part of Utah. “When you’re with land art, it’s everything, and it’s bodily,” Loe said. And April marks its 50th anniversary. He left his mark with a massive earthwork sculpture on the northeast edge of the Great Salt Lake. Scientists also regularly visit, because it’s one of the few places they can easily access the Great Salt Lake. The Spiral Jetty is the epitome of Land Art, and is located on the north end of the Great Salt Lake. “The magnitude of the effort, I think, was also part of (‘Spiral Jetty’ creator Robert Smithson’s) legacy,” said Kelly Kivland, a curator at the Dia Art Foundation, a New York-based nonprofit that oversees care for “Spiral Jetty” and numerous “land art” pieces around the world. Spiral Jetty is an earthwork sculpture constructed in April 1970 that is considered to be the most important work of American sculptor Robert Smithson. Brightly colored algae lives in the salty water and can tint it pink. Over time, she said, she’s come to appreciate the Utah community’s unique relationship with it. Built during a drought by Robert Smithson, once the water levels returned to normal the spiral was then submerged for three decades, reemerging during a drought in 2004. The Spiral Jetty, and more: Utah’s most famous artwork — from A to Z. Additionally, the Dia Art Foundation recently released the essay collection “Artists on Robert Smithson” and will soon be commissioning and releasing new “Spiral Jetty” photography. The Spiral Jetty was created back in 1970 by American sculptor Robert Smithson. Robert Smithson, Spiral Jetty, 1970, Rozel Point, Great Salt Lake, Utah, 1500 (if unwound) x 15 foot spiral of basalt, sand, and soil, ©Holt-Smithson Foundation Speakers: Dr. Steven Zucker and Dr. Beth Harris “But she also was a modest person in some ways, and that had allowed her husband’s legacy to really overshadow hers.”, Kivland remembers the first time she met Holt, in 2011. Made with rocks and earth from the desert and changed by … 2012. We use cookies and other tracking technologies to improve your browsing experience on our site, show personalized content and targeted ads, analyze site traffic, and understand where our audiences come from. It was made to give a portrait of the artist and the concept of the work based on his interest in geology, paleontology, astronomy, mythology, and cinema. To celebrate the piece’s 50th anniversary, there are numerous events and experiences planned. Starting April 3, the Holt/Smithson Foundation began hosting “Fridays at the Movies” online, which virtually presents video works by Holt and Smithson every Friday between 3 p.m. and 11 p.m. Mountain time. Yu the Great Taming the Waters. Hennessey Youngman made the Spiral Jetty. And through all these periods till now, the site has become an increasingly popular destination for both locals and out-of-towners. “She was an artist with ambition,” Coolidge said. In this and the following three issues of American Scientist I explore these works and attempt to answer that question. Construction took six days to complete. Stay on topic. And the piece’s sheer magnitude inspired numerous artists who got sucked into its orbit. It is a man-made, artistic creation but unlike most gallery art, it lies horizontal and dwarfs the human spectator, who feels that sense of smallness he or she experiences when in the presence of nature's beauty, or perhaps contemplating the stars. Because (Smithson and others) came in, they did the work, they had their own entourage of international people who came in and looked at it. “I think it was just unimaginable to so many artists that had been working in their studios and creating works that you hang on a wall, or smaller sculptures.”. “Art endures while life is brief,” indeed! By choosing I Accept, you consent to our use of cookies and other tracking technologies. The jetty is a 1,500-foot-long and 15-foot-wide coil of mud, rocks, and salt crystals along the northern shore of the Great Salt Lake (see location map below), south of Promontory Point. Smithson and Holt visited Phillips’ house sometime in the early 1970s after “Spiral Jetty” was completed, and tried convincing Phillips and his wife to join them at the sculpture site that day. The film documents the making of this earthwork, which has attained near-mythic status as it has disappeared and then re-emerged from the lake over the past decades. The great reveal. It’s a strange piece of art, with an equally strange history that continues to evolve. Spiral Jetty is Utah's answer to Stonehenge and an early example of an art-form known as monumental earthworks. Utah‘s Great Salt Lake contains an extraordinary earthwork sculpture made from crystals, salt, and basalt. Constructed in 1970 by artist Robert Smithson, the jetty is situated on the north shore of the lake. Its construction, Kivland said, was an enormous feat. His wife, fellow artist Nancy Holt, had worked closely with Smithson on “Spiral Jetty.” Suddenly, Holt’s own art career changed drastically as she oversaw Smithson’s estate, his art and his legacy. But the impulse to rescue and preserve it defines it as fine art like nothing else. For years, it was those pieces that spread the word, doing the work that the submerged physical sculpture could not. All Rights Reserved, The strange history of Utah’s ‘Spiral Jetty,’ which just turned 50, an explosion rising into a fiery prominence. “And I saw Bob Phillips at least five times recount this story, and he would always tear up and cry. Poet Percy Bysshe Shelley in the 19th century imagined the arrogance of Ozymandias (Pharaoh Ramesses II) boasting of a gigantic statue of himself and his massive earthworks—“‘Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!’” But everything collapses, and the poem ends with this appropriate coda: “Round the decay/ Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,/ the lone and level sands stretch far away.” Smithson might have been happy chanting that vanitas tune to his own Spiral Jetty. True False 1 points QUESTION 44 1. Spiral Je t t y i s earth art work –made of mud, salt crystals, and basalt rocks– in 1970 by artist Rob ert Smithson.