Spiral Jetty and Robert Smithson

Abdullah Öztoprak

(ARUCAD Master of Arts Student)

Robert Smithson is an American contemporary artist and named as a post minimalist as well who lived during 1938 and 1973. He lived in minimalism , land art and modernist period. He had a very well background related to science fiction, history of art and physiological theories and this was for his benefit. He also had a good name with steel sculptures too His death 3 years after completion of Spiral Jetty was a tragedy as he was flying to make shootings of his coming work as “ Amarillo Ramp “ in Texas. After his death his wife Nancy Hold continued his works to be completed or being performed. Although this put shadows on her artworks she never gave up to support her death husband’s works. Because he had the artistic influence from American artists like Mark Rothko who were against to the dominancy of Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art, Smithson and his friends removed minimal esthetic from industrial qualification into the environment while they got references from history of art and recent researches related to his topicT. his gives the idea why Spiral jetty as a kind of monumental size gives the clues about the historical ruins Stonehenge and pyramids or a giant galaxy in nature. He was an important name because he was reformist and brave to take his artworks out of galleries as now it came out to be land art and Earhart in some cases environmental artIt was a kind of proof of his and his friends’ that land art environmental art can easily be exhibited outdoor of the galleries on their own location, earth and climate. This was a new kind of approach or movement used by other artists too. Even sometimes in some galleries materials of nature such as rock, earth and trees were in exhibitions to led the viewers to go and see them there. His artworks were lately appeared as Earthart. Because of Spiral Jetty, earthart got the attractionas such a kind of national movement and started to give the inspire because of the photos shooted related to it. Smithson always mentioned that either natural or manmade structure or a system would finally collapse. Because of the considerable proof of entropy as the world slowing and cooling Smithson got interest in rocks and

rubble. He simply gives the idea that all construction has a destruction in nature.It is such a case of coin as none of its two faces can be away from the other one meaning that construction and destruction are always together. Spiral Jetty was a kind of monumental earthwork. It submerged and merged in Salt Lake in Utah for several times and also there was and still continues a change in chemistry of crystal salts surrounding the rocks and other components of Jelly was made of salt , earth, rock and etc etc. Meanwhile because of the structure of water in Lake the chemical reactions of the living organisms in it made It to be pinky. More of it even at industry the color can change around it . Robert Smithson also mentioned that the museums look like graves. Painting, architecture and sculpture are almost in the end. Because of this idea he thought that everywhere was getting to be a kind of graves. Thus he insisted on his saying that whatever happens to the art styles he mentioned above art habit still continues its way finding sound in different styles and movements. Robert Smithson was very sensitive about the meaning of artist and artworks too. He emphasized that the artist should not use arts to mean himself or herself or to make a respond to any esthetic expectation. Arts must be used to talk about social, intellectual and spiritual anxiety. After his death Dia Art Foundation is the owner of Spiral Jetty for example because they were the supporters of this artwork during his life according to their agreement. Dia Art Foundation takes photos during the changes of Spiral Jetty and exhibit as they have visitors from all around.Even his recent photos, drawings, sketches and videos are still exhibited. COMMENTS ABOUT ROBERT SMITHSON It is obvious that in many cases it is assumed that Smithson’s style in Spiral Jetty by using the industrial construction technique together with many other people cannot be accepted as a single artist creator. However because of his young age death it is impossible to make a defense or correction about this topic by the artist himself. Still nowadays there are many artists with their artworks who are accepted as single artist in their productions although they use different industrial techniques and people in their team. For example Refik Anadol has a team working together with him and they are using the benefits of computer software with the techniques. Together with the technological development and integration of technology into arts this case came out to be more frequent. His artworks are still impressively attractive and still they have messages to the environment as a heritage of him. Actually this is a kind of presight of the artist related to the climate changes and the destruction power of nature . Especially Spiral Jetty is very powerful depicting the environmental changes due to climate changes. It also shows some sociological hot points as well because artist was very sensitive in the b egging of the con structure as to be somewhere far away without any tables to direct the address and it was done like that. So for long period of time even the citizens of Utah were not aware of the importance of the artwork there in Salt Lake. However as soon as it got popularity because of articles related to its submerging it came out to be one of the prior visited areas. What important here is that the artwork has the power to make awareness on visitors about the destruction power of the climate and the nature and if totally his artworks are explored it can be concluded that human beings are the ones destroying the earth by themselves. So Robert Smithson’s artworks are not only valuable as esthetically but powerful enough to make comments on human beings although the artist is dead.

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