Heizer interviewed

The LAtimes scored a rare interview with the reclusive artist of Levitated Mass (opening June 24 at LACMA).

Photo: Mark Boster, Los Angeles Times / May 24, 2012)

“I think there is a draw from the rock itself, a magnetism we will see when the sculpture is completed,” he said. “But will the artwork have the same interest value as moving the rock around did?” … “I make static art, not dynamic art. That’s what I do.”

Static art” is Heizer’s shorthand for the longevity or durability of projects like the boulder installation, designed “to last 3,500 years,”

…”What I liked about this rock was 98% size, 2% looks.”

“The size thing is not some gimmick or attention-getting trick but a genuine undercurrent of the work,” Heizer said. “Frank Gehry for instance likes to imagine his buildings as sculptures. I like to imagine my sculptures as architectural.”

“The history of American art in a way begins with Jackson Pollock and his big paintings,” he said. “This theme of bigness — all painters and sculptors have dealt with it ever since.”

“My paintings are big too. I’m not very good at making small stuff,”


Touchdown of Heizer’s Rock

Michael Heizer’s Levitated Mass touched down on April 17th over its 15′ deep trench reported LA County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky.

“It landed perfect,” [Heizer] declared to Govan, observing that the rock hit the grout “exactly as it was intended.” Then, not missing a beat, Heizer turned to one of the seven engineers on the project to discuss the myriad ways in which the sculpture is being seismically secured…

Late last month… Heizer quietly arrived from his remote compound in the Nevada desert, where he has been working for the past four decades on “City,” a vast, Stonehenge-scaled project near Area 51, the secret military installation.

Since then, he’s been living with his wife and dog in an Airstream trailer on the LACMA campus, just a stone’s throw from his artwork, which will allow visitors to walk down the trench and under the boulder, positioned 15 feet overhead. Heizer’s expected to return to Nevada later this week[.]

Funny that the only picture of the artist is with Frank Gehry! What does Frank have to do with the installation or even LACMA???

Heizer’s Crane

A 700-ton crane is now being assembled to lift Michael Heizer’s 340-ton Levitated Mass rock into position at LACMA via the LATimes, while the 600-ton transporter is being disassembled. The pending lift (stay tuned for when) will be the next performance event (even if the rock only is raised up just a few inches) that should attract huge crowds – so what else is LACMA planning for that event?

Heizer will be on hand for the lift and oversee the final positioning of the rock according to LACMA spokeswoman Miranda Carroll. The description of how the area around the slot will be ‘ landscaped with granite that will make the plot look very similar to the Riverside quarry from which the rock was taken’ undermines the potential power of the piece to evoke the sublime and instead is on a slippery slope into kitsch along the lines of a zoo or an ecotainment store  (i.e. REI or Gander Mountain). I can only hope that the artist is able to create an evocative landscape worthy of the attention (both the positive and negative) that this piece is generating.

The sculpture is slated to open in June, so stay tuned.


Original Levitated Mass

via Observatoire du Land Art, here are the original drawings by Michael Heizer for Levitated Mass from 1969.

Michael Heizer, Levitated Mass, 1969 (detail). © Volker-H. Schneider / Marzona

Michael Heizer, Levitated Mass, 1969.  © Volker-H. Schneider / Marzona
(Based on Paper – Die Sammlung Marzona. Revolution der Kunst 1960-1975,  p.154)

Heizer’s Rock

Note: this blog is not affiliated with LACMA nor the artist Michael Heizer, no matter what Kunstler wrote. Updates on the Levitated Mass move are here.

update 12/27 –the NYTimes reports on the continued delay in securing permits to move the rock as it gets re-routed to avoid a bridge in Pomona that might not have the structural capacity to support the load.

Perhaps the heaviest work of art ever moved, Michael Heizer has finally found a 340 ton bolder to hover over a trench at LACMA to complete ‘Levitated Mass’ (not to be confused with his 1982 work of the same name). This is a work of art where the logistics (like most pieces by Christo) are just as interesting as the physical object. Moving the 21′ boulder will require a 22 axle truck moving at 6 or 7 miles per hour to cover the 120 mile route between the quarry and the museum. While the boulder was purchased for $120,000, the total cost of the installation (including the move) is around $10 million dollar. The move has been delayed several times already as the local municipalities and regulators grapple with the permitting process and trying to minimize disruptions to the public.

“You can’t cowboy this through,” said Rick Albrecht, the project manager for the move, leaning against a ladder, his sunglasses and hard hat covered in dust. “You have to be meticulous about this.” [LAtimes]

Emmert International, the megamover making this happen, has an impressive record of transporting buildings and various industrial artifacts. The move is as much about infrastructure as it is about art – the route was determined by height clearances and weight limits on roads and bridges, moving powerlines and other utilities out of the way, finding parking spaces for the 295′ rig, and other uses of the urban systems that are beyond their design specs. All the relocation and displacements are temporary, it is a missed opportunity to leave the streetscape in better shape by permanently reducing the spiderweb of tangled wires hanging above most of the streets along the route. Can art be found in burying telephone lines, co-axial cables, power lines, and all those other wires in a giant trench?

View the larger map of the route. Continue reading


RIP Dennis Oppenheim

Annual Rings 1968

Earth artist Dennis Oppenheim (1938-2011) has passed into the great sculpture park in the sky. One of the icons of the 1970s NY art world, his oeuvre included body art, conceptual art, ‘machine peices’, drawings, pop art, and most recently, public art. But I will always appreciate him best for his delicate, at times fleetingly ephemeral, approach to earthworks that still resonates with me. NYT obit. Continue reading