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Robert Smithson

Robert Smithson was born in Rutherford, New Jersey in 1938. He was the creator of the Spiral Jetty, a spiral ridge sculptural protrusion in the Great Salt Lake; he also formulated the earth art movement using the earth as sculptural material. He died near Amarillo, Texas in 1973.

While he was still in high school Smithson studied at the Art Students League in New York in 1953, which he followed with study at the Brooklyn Museum in 1956. In 1969, he traveled to England and Wales to visit Stonehenge and other ruins.

Smithson also constructed a Partially Buried Woodshed in Kent State, Ohio and Amarillo Ramp in Teovas Lake outside Amarillo, Texas. Smithson's work is also held in the collections of Whitney Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Milwaukee Art Institute, and Neueu Galerie in Aachen, Germany.

Biography adapted from Artists of Utah.

In 1970 Robert Smithson created the famous Spiral Jetty, a massive piece of earth sculpture that was, for quite a number of years, submerged beneath the north end of the Great Salt Lake, twenty miles southwest of the Golden Spike National Historic Site. Smithson secured financial support from two New York and Los Angeles art galleries, and took out a twenty-year lease on ten acres of the lake-front land. Work on the huge project began in earnest in April 1970. Dump trucks hauled in tons of rock and dirt over a rough road as Smithson directed them along the circuitous jetty route where they carefully backed their loads into the shallow waters. When the job was finally finished later that summer, Smithson sat back and wiated for mineralization to put the finishing toucheson his creation. Stretching fifteen hundred feet in length and forty feet in diameter, the Spiral Jetty was soon destined to become the best known contemporary earth sculpture in the world. Smithson's thirty-five-minute film about the creation of the jetty has been shown in Europe and was a regulat feature at the Dwan Gallery in New York and the Ace Gallery in Los Angeles. Then, the lake removed the work from sight. But, since 1996, it has been out in the open view each year from around Pioneer Day through the summer.

Biography courtesy Artists of Utah.


Smithson, Robert, Eugenie Tsai, Cornelia H. Butler, Thomas E. Crow, Alexander Alberro, and Moira Roth. Robert Smithson. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2004.

Smithson, Robert. Robert Smithson Retrospective: Works 1955-1973. Oslo, Norway: National Museum of Contemporary Art: Stockholm: Moderna Museet, 1999.

Smithson, Robert. Spiral Jetty. New York, NY: Museum of Modern Art Circulating Film Library, 1990.

Smithson, Robert and Nancy Holt. Spiral Jetty. S.l.: R. Smithson, 1970.

Smithson, Robert, George Baker, Lynne Cooke, and Karen Kelly. Robert Smithson: Spiral Jetty. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2005.

Smithson, Robert and Nancy Holt. Spiral Jetty. New York, NY: American Federation of Arts, 1988.

Smithson, Robert. Spiral Jetty. New York, NY: Museum of Modern Art Circulating Film Library, 1990.

Smithson, Robert. S piral Jetty. Sarasota, FL: Universal Color Slide, 1900.

Smithson, Robert. Spiral Jetty. Kenilworth, NJ: Art Now, 1975.

Newspaper Articles

"25th Anniversary Events." The Deseret News, September 10, 2004.

"Abravanel Hall Hailed on 25th." The Deseret News, September 16, 2004.

"Art Canvass." The Deseret News, September 5, 2004.

"Art Uncoils From Depths Of Lake." The Deseret News, August 17, 2002.

"Art Cavass." The Deseret News, March 24, 1996.

"Caption only: Spiral Jetty Weekend." The Deseret News, August 29, 2004.

"Caption Only: A 'Spiral' Moonrise." The Deseret News, June 4, 2004.

"Caption Only: Solstice Watchers Aspire To Tunnel Vision." The Deseret News, June 22, 2002.

"Group Sponsors Trip To Lake's Spiral Jetty." The Deseret News, September 12, 2002.

"Jetty Facts." The Deseret News, August 7, 2003.

"Jetty Restoration Under Consideration." The Deseret News, January 18, 2004.

"Massive Spiral Art Curves Into Lake." The Deseret News, August 8, 1996.

"More than Meets the Nose." The Deseret News, November 2, 2003.

"Obituary: Robert ""Bob"" Suby Smithson." The Deseret News, November 30, 2004.

"'Rise of the Sixties' is a Fascinating Art Journey." The Deseret News, March 27, 2005.

"Smithson's 'Spiral' resurfaces." The Deseret News, April 24, 2005.

"Spiral Jetty's Future Uncertain." The Deseret News, December 16, 2002.

"`Spiral Jetty' Makes Bold Statement In '90s." The Deseret News, July 6, 1996.

"The Winners and the Losers." The Deseret News, December 21, 2002.

"Time And A Place: Utah's Spiral Jetty." The Deseret News, August 7, 2003.

"Water Encroaching on 'Jetty'." The Deseret News, June 12, 2005.


 Last Modified 4/1/20