Bingham Copper Mining Pit—Utah / Reclamation Project

Artist: Robert Smithson (American, Passaic, New Jersey 1938–1973 Amarillo, Texas)

Date: 1973

Medium: Photostat and plastic overlay with wax pencil

Dimensions: 47 x 34.3 cm (18 1/2 x 13 1/2 in.)

Classifications: Photographs, Drawings

Credit Line: Purchase, Pat and John Rosenwald Gift, 2001

Accession Number: 2001.293


In the last two years before his death in a plane crash at age thirty-five, Smithson proposed various land-reclamation projects that would transform devastated industrial sites into a new form of public art. Here he envisions an earthwork that would have dwarfed even his famous "Spiral Jetty": the oldest open-pit copper mine and the largest man-made excavation (more than two miles wide) in the world. The unexecuted project involved the construction of a massive revolving disk—reminiscent of the viewing platform of a nineteenth-century panorama—at the pit's base from which to survey nature's gradual and inevitable reclamation of man's invasive enterprise.