Robert Smithson
Steel and paint
73 5/8 x 54 1/8 x 39 1/4 in. (187 x 137.5 x 99.7 cm)
Collection Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, Gift of Joseph H. Hirshhorn, 1972

In his fervent study of crystallography, Smithson came across a phenomenon wherein an imperfection in crystal structure leads to a continuous dislocation of pattern, creating a spiral-staircase shape. ​Gyrostasis ​is a frozen moment in a crystal’s formation, simultaneously complete and infinite. Smithson later referred to the sculpture as “an abstract three-dimensional map that points to the ​Spiral Jetty.​” Its geometric precision and glossy exterior lend it to the confines of the gallery—a graceful whisper of the mammoth, untamed earthwork that was to follow.

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