Three-Sided Vortex

Robert Smithson1966

Chrysler Museum of Art

Chrysler Museum of Art
Norfolk, United States

"A well of triangulating mirrors…it reveals all kinds of delicate polyhedral, symmetrical networks, all held together by fragile angles, joints, corners, etc. … In the words of Jorge Luis Borges, I have set out ‘to design that ungraspable architecture.’ –Robert Smithson. Peek over the edge of this small, metal sculpture. What do you see? As the title suggests, the triangular mirrors in Three-Sided Vortex recall the conic shape of a whirlpool. For Robert Smithson, the convergence of the mirrors also references one-point perspective—a graphic technique developed in the Renaissance for creating the illusion of three-dimensional depth on a flat surface. Smithson’s use of mirrors adds additional dimensions, exploring ideas related to mathematics, geometry, and natural crystalline structures—themes that culminated in his immense outdoor sculpture, Spiral Jetty (1969).


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  • Title: Three-Sided Vortex
  • Creator: Robert Smithson
  • Date Created: 1966
  • Location Created: United States
  • Physical Dimensions: 16 1/2 x 8 x 9 in. (41.9 x 20.3 x 22.9 cm)
  • Credit Line: Gift of Walter P. Chrysler, Jr.
  • Type: Sculpture
  • Rights: © Robert Smithson / Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY
  • Medium: Chrome, glass, and mirror