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Robert Smithson

Robert Smithson (1938 - 1973) was an American artist famous for his land art.

After some early minimal works, in the 1960s and 1970s he created work which responded to a the natural and industrial environment. His most famous work is Spiral Jetty (1970), a 1500 feet long spiral-shaped jetty extending into the Great Salt Lake in Utah constructed from rocks, earth, salt and red algae. It was entirely submerged by rising lake waters for several years, but has since reemerged.

As well as works of art, Smithson produced a good deal of theoretical and critical writing. Concerned with the relationship of a piece of art to its environment, he developed his concept of sites and non-sites. A site was a work located in a specific outdoor location, while a non-site was a work which could be displayed in any suitable space, such as an art gallery. Spiral Jetty is an example of a sited work, while Smithson's non-site pieces frequently consist of photographs of a particular location, often exhibited alongside some material (such as stones or soil) removed from that location.

Smithson died in a plane crash while working on his work Amarillo Ramp in Texas.

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