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Land art introduction > Spiral Jetty

Robert Smithson

American, 1938–1973
Spiral Jetty
Site: Rozel Point, Great Salt Lake, Utah
Materials: Black basalt rock, salt crystals, earth, water
Dimensions: Coil 1,500 feet long and approximately 15 feet wide

The monumental earthwork Spiral Jetty (1970) was created by artist Robert Smithson and is located off Rozel Point in the north arm of Great Salt Lake. Made of black basalt rocks and earth gathered from the site, Spiral Jetty is a 15-foot-wide coil that stretches more than 1,500 feet into the lake. Undoubtedly the most famous large-scale earthwork of the period, it has come to epitomize Land art. Its exceptional art historical importance and its unique beauty have drawn visitors and media attention from throughout Utah and around the world.

Rozel Point attracted Smithson for a number of reasons, including its remote location and the reddish quality of the water in that section of the lake (an effect of algae). Using natural materials from the site, Smithson designed Spiral Jetty to extend into the lake several inches above the waterline. However, the earthwork is affected by seasonal fluctuations in the lake level, which can alternately submerge the Jetty or leave it completely exposed and covered in salt crystals. The close communion between Spiral Jetty and the super-saline Great Salt Lake emphasizes the entropic processes of erosion and physical disorder with which Smithson was continually fascinated.

The Utah Museum of Fine Arts works in collaboration with the Dia Art Foundation, the steward of the Spiral Jetty, and Great Salt Lake Institute at Westminster College to preserve, maintain, and advocate for this masterpiece of late twentieth-century art and acclaimed Utah landmark.










LEFT | Robert Smithson, Spiral Jetty (1970). Photograph by Gianfranco Gorgoni. Art © Estate of Robert Smithson/Licensed by VAGA, New York


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Spiral Jetty

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