Robert Smithson: Spiral Jetty

Lynne Cooke, Editor, Karen Kelly, Editor, Bettina Funcke, With . Univ. of California/Dia $39.95 (208p) ISBN 978-0-520-24554-9

Robert Smithson's monumental Spiral Jetty (1970) is a 1,500-foot-long coil of earth and basalt that extends into the water from the northern shore of Utah's Great Salt Lake. As if that massive construction were not enough, Smithson's project also includes a poemlike essay and an avant-garde short film. In other words, like many iconic works associated with the Minimalist art movement, its simplicity is deceptive; there's a lot of theory under all those rocks. Cooke and Kelly's beautiful and exhaustively compiled book does an admirable job of tackling Smithson's multifaceted undertaking from as many angles as possible, with essays ranging from video artist Diana Thater's illuminating notes on the film to contractor Bob Phillips's memories of the jetty's construction. However, proving the old adage that a picture is worth a thousand words (or, in the case of Cooke's almost comically obscure essay, several thousand), Spiral Jetty truly comes to life through the book's stunning array of photographs, taken by Gianfranco Gorgoni, Tom Smart and others. Owing to the lake's high salinity, abundance of colorful algae and fluctuating water levels, the jetty looks completely different from year to year, and this shifting appearance lends the work—and this volume—its most forceful aesthetic punch. 200 illus., 85 in color. (Sept. 5)

Reviewed on: 08/15/2005
Release date: 09/01/2005
Portable Document Format (PDF) - 208 pages - 978-0-520-93215-9
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