The Spiral Jetta: A Road Trip Through the Land Art of the American West

Erin Hogan, Author . Univ. of Chicago $20 (180p) ISBN 978-0-226-34845-2

Hogan, director of public affairs at the Art Institute of Chicago and a “recovering art historian” with decidedly urban sensibilities, set out on a road trip to visit the most significant works of land art in the American West and to make an experimental “assault” on her fear of solitude. Hogan’s journey in her Volkswagen Jetta began with Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty by the Great Salt Lake; in eight more chapters she documents her visits to Michael Heizer’s Double Negative in Nevada, Walter De Maria’s Lightning Field in New Mexico, failed attempts to find Nancy Holt’s Sun Tunnels and James Turrell’s Roden Crater , along with stops in Moab, Utah; Juárez, Mexico; and Marfa, Tex., “the contemporary art pilgrim’s mecca.” Hogan’s pilgrimage, sparsely illustrated, is part well-informed art historical travelogue and part light foray into self-discovery; her prose is lucid, energetic and expressive, and she is an affable guide. But this narrative does not convincingly convey the depth of her interior journey or the aesthetic insight that Hogan sought to experience. 26 b&w photos, 1 map. (June)

Reviewed on: 04/21/2008
Release date: 04/01/2008
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