What is art? If nothing else, art is subjective. From portrait to sculpture, pop to performance, art is something that resides in the eye of the beholder.
Perhaps a better question would be: What isn’t art? Michael Heizer is testing that boundary, by rolling a 340-ton boulder across California, and parking it in the middle of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
The art project is called “Levitated Mass,” and throughout 11 days of March 2012 the boulder traveled 106 miles. It traveled on a heavy-duty trailer at an average of 7 miles per hour. During the day it would rest in the road, which was the cause of more than a few lane closures.
Heizer, a contemporary artist who specializes in large-scale sculptures and “earth art,” made a rare appearance. He was quoted as saying: “Art is made to memorialize time … a culture is known by its art, not by its science.”
“Los Angeles is an automobile culture,” Heizer said. “What you saw was just the biggest automobile in town going down that road.”
Heizer has spent the last 40 years living in the Arizona desert, where among other projects, he has carved “City” in the earth, as a landscape sculpture that rivals Mount Rushmore in scope. He first had the idea for the “Levitated Mass” installation in 1968, when he discovered a similar, but smaller, boulder, which he attempted to place in a dry creek bed. The 120-ton boulder broke the crane that attempted to lift it. In 1969, Heizer created “Double Negative,” which was two 50-foot deep trenches dug in Mormon Mesa, Nevada.
“We knew it was going to attract attention,” says Heizer, of the Levitated Mass installation. “That’s not really the art, as far as I’m concerned.” The Levitated Mass project cost an estimated $10 million. The exhibit opened June 24, 2012, and is on display now.
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