Spiral Jetty by Robert Smith

Spiral Jetty by Robert Smith
Spiral Jetty by Robert Smith

Robert Smithson (1938 – 1973) is one of the great representatives of the artistic current of Land Art. But in the case of this creator, the most particular thing is that many Most of his works had an ephemeral character, that is, they were not born with the vocation to integrate into the landscape and somehow endure. Quite the contrary, since they were destined to disappear.


Spiral Jetty by Robert Smithson

And a magnificent example of this is one of his most emblematic creations: theSpiral Jettythat he made between 1969 and 1970 in theGreat S alt Lake of the state of Utah, United States. It is one of his greatest earthworks, sculptures that he made in nature and using the materials of that environment. And it is that this work became an intervention that occupied four hectares.

he made, obviously with the help of heavy machinery, a gigantic spiral with bas alt rocks, s alt and earth from the area and placed it from the shore of the lake towards its interior, describing a turn in the opposite direction to the clockwise. In other words, it was destined from the first moment to disappear, since the tides of that Great S alt Lake would end up erasing all that work. And so it happened gradually.

However, an event occurred that was difficult to predict by its creator. More than 25 years after his death, in 1999 there was a major drought in the region and thestructure came back to the surface, coming into view again. Furthermore, when it became visible again, the sculpture had considerably changed its appearance. To begin with, by changing its color, since the s alt in the water had caused the originally black bas alt to turn into whitish rocks. While the original rough and rocky appearance had been greatly softened by the constant accumulation of silt.

So, deep down, the sculpture was not so ephemeral, which makes it possible to play with symbolism since the spiral shape has always been related to the infinite and the eternal, being a linked shape, for example to seashells or galaxies.

But as we said, that reappearance was unexpected, because without a doubt the objective of Smithson was to make it disappear. In fact, he documented the entire process. The author with this work and with others of his interventions wanted to demonstrate that the decline of art and our civilization was inevitable, it was only a matter of time. And not only that, but he also wanted to claim that this decadence could have a strong aesthetic appeal, something that everyone is able to verify when looking at some old archaeological ruins and feeling a certain nostalgia.

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