Born and raised in Rome, Gianfranco Gorgoni moved to Milan to pursue a career in photography in his 20s. He came to New York in 1968, where he became immersed in the New York art scene and photographed artists including Ellsworth Kelly (1923-2015), Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997), Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008), Andy Warhol (1928-1987), Jasper Johns (born 1930), James Rosenquist (1933-2017), and Bruce Nauman (born 1941).
Gorgoni started traveling to the American West in the 1970s to document the production of emerging Land art. He is perhaps best known for photographing the construction and evolution of Robert Smithson’s (1938-1973) iconic Spiral Jetty from 1970 until 2014. The UMFA installed an exhibition featuring Gorgoni’s photographs in 2020, entitled 50 Years of Spiral Jetty | Smithson and Gorgoni.
In 1972, the Great Salt Lake’s water level rose significantly and completely submerged Spiral Jetty for thirty years. As a result, and due to the artwork’s remote location, Gorgoni’s photographs have continued to serve as the primary reference for Smithson’s monumental earthwork. How might a photograph influence our understanding or perception of a place? Have you been to Spiral Jetty? How was your experience similar and/or different than the moment captured in this photograph?