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Indepth Arts News:

"Gift of Robert Smithson's Spiral Jetty"
0000-00-00 until 0000-00-00
Dia Center for the Arts
New York, NY, USA United States of America

Robert Smithson's monumental earthwork Spiral Jetty (1970) has been acquired by Dia Center for the Arts as a gift from the Estate of the artist. Located on the Great Salt Lake in Utah, this pivotal landmark in postwar American art constitutes a major addition to Dia's collection, which also contains related works from this period. The Estate's generous bequest recognizes Dia's commitment, since its founding in 1974, to promote art that extends beyond a traditional exhibition framework. Director Michael Govan announced that Dia intends to facilitate easier access to this reknown piece in the future as well as to centralize the historical documents relating to it into a scholarly archive.

In 1970 gallerist and art patron Virginia Dwan provided Smithson with the funds needed to construct Spiral Jetty. Using black basalt rocks and earth from the site, the artist created a coil 1500 feet long and 15 feet wide that stretches out counterclockwise into the translucent red water. In 1972 Smithson explained his fascination with this rugged context: I like landscapes that suggest prehistory. As an artist it is interesting to take on the persona of a geological agent and actually become part of that process rather than overcome it.

Today Spiral Jetty is submerged as it has been for most of its existence. Realizing, after its completion, that he had built it at a time when the level of the lake was unnaturally low, Smithson considered adding further material to ensure that his artwork would be visible more often. As yet this has not been done.

Born in 1938, in Passaic, New Jersey, Smithson began addressing issues of landscape in his art in the late 1960s, most notably in photo-essays and a series of nonsites. By means of maps, diagrams, photographs, and material samples he effected a complex dialogue between the actual site and its means of representation in a museum or gallery context. In 1973, while surveying the site in Texas for his earthwork Amarillo Ramp, Smithson died in a plane crash.

The acquisition of Spiral Jetty continues Dia's longstanding support of major earthworks. In 1979 Dia helped realize Walter De Maria's Lightning Field, which it now owns, maintains, and makes available to the public. In the late 1970s it provided initial funds for James Turrell's Roden Crater near Flagstaff, Arizona, and currently it assists Michael Heizer's ongoing City project in Nevada.


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