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Michael Heizer’s Monumental Sculpture The City Opens To Public

The immense sculpture, the City in Nevada desert is finally complete after 50 years and opens to the public from 2 September.

© Michael Heizer. Courtesy Triple Aught Foundation. Photo: Ben Blackwell

More than half a century in the making, Michael Heizer’s immense sculpture The City is finally complete and ready to welcome the public this September. Located in the central eastern Nevada, it’s composed of shaped mounds and depressions made of compacted dirt, rock, and concrete, and it is more than a mile and a half long and a half mile wide

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The not-for-profit organization Triple Aught Foundation, responsible for managing the project announced that the City will open to the public, by advance reservation only, beginning September 2, 2022.

45°, 90°, 180°, City © Michael Heizer. Courtesy of Triple Aught Foundation. Photo: Ben Blackwell

Known for his large-scale and site-specific sculptures, the American land artist Michael Heizer started to build the City in the early 1970s. The artist, particularly inspired by the immemorial cultures, envisioned the project to be as monumental as an ancient, pre Columbian complex or Egyptian ceremonial structures. It is as starkly uncompromising as its environment, the high desert of Nevada’s Basin and Range National Monument.

45°, 90°, 180°, City © Michael Heizer. Courtesy of Triple Aught Foundation. Photo: Ben Blackwell

Approaching the cut on foot from the north or south, elements of a cityscape seem to be rising or falling from within the excavation that cuts flat into the rising ridge… As one walks up to an overlook, Heizer’s cultural interventions open out the space. The roads and domes and pits within the excavation are elegantly curbed into long, quiet Sumerian curves. They restore our sense of distance and scale, so the complexity of City reveals itself as a gracious intervention in the desert… composed and complete.
– said art critic Dave Hickey.

45°, 90°, 180°, City © Michael Heizer. Courtesy of Triple Aught Foundation. Photo: Ben Blackwell

The artist uses natural materials like rock, concrete, and steel and is known for his outdoor earthwork sculptures that exists both outside and inside museums and galleries all over the world. The City is a continuation of Heizer’s other works he had created in the West, including the negative North and South in the Sierras (1967), and the epoch-making Double Negative at Mormon Mesa (1969).

Complex One, City. © Michael Heizer. Courtesy Triple Aught Foundation. Photo: Joe Rome

Acquiring remote parcels of property over the decades, consolidating them into the ideal location for his sculpture, and using materials mined from the land itself, Heizer merged his interests in non-inhabited forms in Native American traditions of mound-building, the pre Columbian cities of Central and South America, and his studies of Egyptian construction with his singular ability to work with immense variations in scale, perspective, and viewpoint. The result is a lifetime achievement of breathtaking complexity and size, evoking ancient ceremonial constructions while also suggesting the forms of a modern city’s central hub. – from Triple Aught Foundation.

Complex One, City. © Michael Heizer. Courtesy Triple Aught Foundation. Photo: Joe Rome

Construction of the City was originally funded by Heizer himself, eventually joined by individuals and institutions including Virginia Dwan, Dia Art Foundation, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and Lannan Foundation. The Triple Aught Foundation, established in 1998 to help complete the work, owns and manages the City and is charged with its long-term preservation. Triple Aught Foundation has established an endowment for the City with initial funding close to $30 million.

© Michael Heizer. Courtesy Triple Aught Foundation. Photo: Joe Rome

Over the years I would sometimes compare Michael Heizer’s City project to some of the most important ancient monuments and cities. But now I only compare it to itself. It’s an artwork aware of our primal impulses to build and organize space, but it incorporates our modernity, our awareness of and reflection upon the subjectivity of our human experience of time and space as well as the many histories of civilizations we have built. Working with Michael Heizer for more than 25 years to help him realize his City project has been one of the most important experiences of my own life and work.
– said Triple Aught Foundation Board member Michael Govan, CEO and Wallis Annenberg Director of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

© Michael Heizer. Courtesy Triple Aught Foundation. Photo: Joe Rome

The City is located in a remote valley of the high desert in eastern Nevada, while the reservations may be requested for dates between September 2 and November 1 at tripleaughtfoundation.org.

Complex Two, City. © Michael Heizer. Courtesy Triple Aught Foundation. Photo: Joe Rome
45°, 90°, 180°, City. © Michael Heizer. Courtesy Triple Aught Foundation. Photo: Joe Rome
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