Robert Smithson (American, 1938–1973) was a painter and sculptor best known for his mature Land Art pieces, such as Spiral Jetty (1970). Smithson grew up in New Jersey, and moved to New York in the 1950s to study at the Art Students’ League and the Brooklyn Museum School. His early paintings and collages were expressionistic in style, and mimic the bejeweled aesthetic of Byzantine art, while referencing a variety of sources drawn from natural history, science, and religion. Smithson married sculptor Nancy Louise Holt (American, b.1938) in 1963, a union that encouraged the artist to create his own sculptures. His earliest sculptures were influenced by Minimalism, and used geometric forms and mirrors that were occasionally juxtaposed with natural specimens, such as crushed shells and petrified coral. In the 1970s, Smithson began creating Non-Site works, abstracted versions of three-dimensional spaces. In these pieces, actual sites are mapped out topographically with additional artistic abstraction and ingenuity, creating a new work of both the record of the actual site and the viewer’s interpretation of the diagram. After working with representing sites in gallery settings, Smithson’s interest in Land Art piqued and he began to work directly with architectural and natural sites. He created a variety of site-specific works, which he referred to as his earthworks, acquiring critical attention and publicity through his Spiral Jetty project. Spiral Jetty was constructed from earth, rubble, and salt, and juts out from Rozel Point into Utah’s Great Salt Lake. In 1973, Smithson was killed in a plane crash while documenting his Amarillo Ramp earthwork in Texas.