Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Spiral Jetty

The Guardian has started an artsblog with a list of 20 artworks "to see before you die". It includes two landscape paintings - Vermeer's View of Delft (c.1660-61) (for which you need to visit the Mauritshuis in The Hague) and C├ęzanne's Mont Sainte-Victoire from Les Lauves (1904 - 6) (entailing a trip to the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow). The choice of Vermeer reminds me of Proust's character Bergotte who makes the effort to see the View of Delft before he dies, and then dies looking at the painting. I think if I had to contribute to global warming with twenty flights to see landscape art I'd be tempted to visit more site specific works: gardens and landscape architecture, landscape-themed furnishings and frescos, environmental and land art.

Following the recent Robert Smithson retrospective in New York and the re-emergence of Spiral Jetty, there seems to be an ever growing number of people making the pilgrimage to Rozel Point. A quick search reveals several recent accounts of journeys: Jerry Saltz, Contemporary-Pulitzer, Mike Owens... I can imagine going all the way to Utah and finding the place full of land art Grand Tourists (next stop De Maria's Lightning Field). Already the trip Tacita Dean made in Trying to Find Spiral Jetty (1997) seems to belong to another age. In the artsblog Jonathan Jones says "I think a work of art worth travelling to see has to be a really great statement about serious things. Something not just to fill your life but deepen it." Perhaps Spiral Jetty doesn't really fulfil these criteria, but I wouldn't really know as I've not yet seen it...

Robert Smithson, Spiral Jetty, 1970
Source: Wikimedia Commons

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