Built at the mouth of a terminal basin rich in minerals and nearly devoid of life, Spiral Jetty is a testament to Smithson’s fascination with entropy. Its precarious location lends itself to the structure’s inevitable disintegration, yet its impressive size and deliberate shape command the surrounding landscape. Constructed from 6,650 tons of rock and earth, the spiral continuously changes form as nature, industry, and time take effect.
Spiral Jetty in Red Salt Water
One of many preliminary drawings for Smithson’s most famous work, Spiral Jetty, this particular sketch calls attention to the striking red hue of Great Salt Lake. The color is a result of salt-tolerant algae and bacteria, a feature that reminded Smithson of the primordial sea. While the drawing appears as a simplified plan for the iconic earthwork, it is not merely a means to an end. Rather, this sketch—along with countless others—exemplifies Smithson’s ongoing meditation on the infinitude of time, change, and spiritual desire as represented by the spiral form.