Robert Smithson had an unusual, unique, and influential vision which he expressed through varied media including sculpture, photography, film, and writings. He is perhaps best known for his “earthworks”, large scale installations of natural materials that he created as sculptures in rather than on the earth.
Smithson’s Spiral Jetty (1970) swirls surrealistically out into Utah’s Great Salt Lake. The enormous “Earth Art” installation made of rocks and mud measures 1,500 feet in length and 15 feet in width. It is in many ways a study of the tension between opposites: life and death, permanence and transience, past and present, technology and nature. Designed to be impermanent, Spiral Jetty disappeared under the rising waters of the Salt Lake two years after its creation. But, in the summer of 2002, waters receded and it became partially visible. Photographer David Maisel captured this on film.
This banner features Maisel’s aerial photograph of Spiral Jetty. Encrusted with white salt accumulated over the decades, the sculpture looks almost illuminated against the reddish waters of the lake. White text at the bottom of the banner reads, “MOCA” and includes the name and logo of the exhibition’s sponsor “Henry Luce Foundation.”
The other side of the banner has a rust red background displaying the artist’s name “Robert Smithson” cleverly laid out in white letters that run both horizontally and vertically. At the top of this side in small white text are the dates of the exhibition, “SEPT 12 – DEC 13, 2004.” At the bottom of this side in small white letters, the name and phone number of the company that manufactured the banners is included.
These banners were displayed around Los Angeles to promote the exhibition Robert Smithson at the Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles which ran from September 12 through December 13, 2004. The exhibition then traveled to the Dallas Museum of Art in Texas and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York.
Robert Smithson (1938-1973) was a key figure on the American art scene in the 1970s. His career was cut short by his untimely death in a plane crash at the age of 35. He was known for his “earthworks”, large-scale installations using mud, rocks, asphalt, and sand, as well as for his work in other media such as sculpture and photography. Prints by photographer David Maisel (b. 1961) are in the permanent collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Princeton University Art Museum, and many others.
Exhibition: Robert Smithson
Material: Printed 2-ply vinyl
Dimensions: 35" x 96"
(88.9cm x 243.8cm)