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The Incredible Spire (The Watts Towers)


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The Incredible Spire (The Watts Towers)

Artwork Details


Clarence John Laughlin
American, 1905–1985




Gelatin silver print

Accession #



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Currently Not on View


Laughlin was fascinated by the simple nature and design of the Watts Towers. The Towers consisted of a group of steel and mosaic structures built in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles, California between 1921 and 1954 by Simon Rodia, a construction worker and tile mason. Rodia, like Laughlin, was untrained and built a structure that many thought was not sturdy enough. Ironically, when the city tried to take the towers down due to this fear, they were unable to because they were so well built. Laughlin loved this story of an autodidact outwitting those in power.


Gift of Jane and Clay Jackson in honor of David A. Brenneman