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The Art of Earthworks Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty

The Earthworks movement, a unique area of the history of contemporary art, clearly had something to say about society, technology, and modern culture. Rather than utilizing nature motifs and creating two-dimensional painted countryside, the Earthworks artists attacked direct modification of the landscape itself. This process was both traditional and progressive.

The tradition of prehistoric typical monuments and their possible esoteric meanings was a passionate interest among the underground culture in the 1960s and 1970s. The form of Robert Smithson’s famous Spiral Jetty (1970) was like a huge petroglyph. This archaic symbol also had ancient associations with the labyrinth. The Spiral Jetty, located in the great Salt Lake in Utah, was a quarter of a distance long and formed out of bulldozed rock. Like many ancient shrines, it was hard to get at and required a virtual pilgrimage to view directly.

The removal of art from the gallery into the open land was also a way of denial of the gallery and museum system by the Earthworks artists. This established art as a non-commodity in the face of a consumer society and was a challenge to social orthodoxy.

The massive size of the Earthworks efforts favored the value of actual manual labor over the endless debates and criticism of mental society. There were additional feminist tones as the artists experimented with create their ideas into the bosom of the maternal earth.

Finally, the isolation of such works away from modern areas carried an environmentalist message of concern about person’s break down of natural resources in the post-industrial wastelands.

Smithson’s work shares an essentially organic form with many other modern artists. The impersonality of the Spiral Jetty, however, is sometimes shocking. Because of the massive scale of Smithson’s work, the only way to totally apprehend the piece is to see a photograph taken from the air. zemní práce This means of documentation is together by mapping and text-based accounts.

The Spiral Jetty also contains an element of performance-based art which is absent in many forms of modern art. Other modern artists often worked in private and even kept their methods secret. The site-specific areas of Earthworks and the momentous skin scales made them inherently public activities in spite of their characteristic remoted locations. Furthermore, the outdoor location of this earthwork emphasized the impact of natural forces and the temporality of art and life.

The Spiral Jetty demonstrates many of the themes which separate modern art from that of the conventional era. This work in particular, and earthworks in general, challenge the traditional ideas of reality and permanence in art.

Kathleen Karlsen is a mother of five children with a passionate interest in creating a world where children and youth are free to grow in imagination and joy. She’s got a lifelong interest in metaphysics, psychology, healing and the martial arts styles. She controls a multimedia business with her husband Claire in Bozeman, Montana.

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