Robert Smithson (1938–1973), an artist of paramount importance in postwar America, created radical new perspectives for landscape architecture, photography, art criticism, and site-specific installation. His Spiral Jetty—a 1,500-foot-long coil of rock built in 1970 at the edge of the Great Salt Lake—is widely appreciated as one of the most significant art projects of the twentieth century. Less well known is the connection between the Jetty and the nearby Golden Spike National Historic Site, location of the completion of the first U.S. transcontinental railroad. The link between these two monuments is but one facet of an entire complex of historical reference and reflection that structures Smithson’s work.
Mirror-Travels encompasses the full span of Smithson’s career, offering a close analysis of the artist’s working model of history and featuring comprehensive case studies of three of his most influential works: “The Monuments of Passaic,” “Incidents of Mirror-Travel in the Yucatan,” and the Spiral Jetty. Incorporating abundant new material from Smithson’s personal papers and library, Jennifer Roberts offers surprising new interpretations about the artist and his responses to the social, ideological, and material contradictions of his time.
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