Feature

Smithson’s Spiral Jetty in jeopardy

One of the most famous—and largest—works by an American artist may be at risk, said Randy Kennedy in The New York Times. Newly proposed oil drilling in Utah could threaten the structural integrity of Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty, “a 1,500-foot-long curl

One of the most famous—and largest—works by an American artist may be at risk, said Randy Kennedy in The New York Times. Newly proposed oil drilling in Utah could threaten the structural integrity of Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty, “a 1,500-foot-long curlicue of salt crystals, rocks, and mud” that juts into the Great Salt Lake. The late sculptor completed the work, which is visible from space, in 1970. But now, an oil company plans to begin exploratory drilling near the remote site, prompting fans of the work to flood the Utah state government with pleas for its protection. Don’t assume Smithson would have joined these protests, said Charlie Finch in Artnet.com. Spiral Jetty was intended, in part, as a comment on the complicated relationship of man, nature, and art. “To allow Spiral Jetty to succumb to whatever forces” might destroy it, natural or unnatural, was actually part of the artist’s vision.

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