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Monday 03.12.12

« Vastness: Joe Thurston and Arcy Douglass | Main | Betty Feves: Generations »

There is always a bigger rock

It is often funny when people think they know which artists I'm most obsessed with. Over the years some have thought the AbEx greats or Donald Judd. I understand why they might think these things but they are wrong. The artist who I've thought most about since a massive 8,000 mile land art road trip is Michael Heizer. Without Heizer we don't have Smithson or Walter De Maria and I don't even feel like Double Negative is his best work.

As a child Heizer, grew up in archeological digs throughout the vastness of the Western United States and then passed some of that experience onto his art friends at a crucial time.. but he's actually the most interesting of the three. He considers New York's art world kinda soft (because it is if you are used to living in the harshness of the Nevada desert) and will likely only open his masterwork City to the public only when he dies.

a house-sized rock on the rim of Meteor Crater in Arizona, center (photo Jeff Jahn)

All of this makes the spectacle around his latest project for LACMA seem like a diminutive sideshow. It does bode well though for how his work will be received once the world can see his main focus. As it stands Levitated Mass is at best medium level work for Heizer but it is good that the city folk are getting worked up. In fact, Heizer once had the jones for even larger rocks, like the house sized one on the rim of Meteor Crater in Arizona.

What impresses me most about Heizer is his toughness and the way he thinks in massive geological and anthropological terms. Lots of artists think bigger is better but perhaps only Heizer and Richard Serra have been able to back it up... and what's more Heizer's work seems to step outside time. It is never about the latest technology like Serra can have as a sub plot. Instead the plot is always the same... dealing with the innate basic forces of the planet. In short he mocks human vanity while embracing its innate hubris as an unavoidable consequence of our existence. The fact that he has all of LA watching one medium sized rock must make him chuckle. Good for him, artists should have the last laugh and for once it is nice to see Art grandstanding more than the movie industry in LA. I like the way art places demands on civilization, it is the opposite of entertainment.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on March 12, 2012 at 13:40 | Comments (1)


"Without Heizer we don't have Smithson or Walter De Maria" Humm... not so sure. Did you forget "Art Yard" by Walter De Maria? May 1960...

Posted by: Marc De verneuil [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 28, 2012 04:25 PM

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