Artist Michael Heizer laid low at his Nevada compound during the whole run up to — and actual move of — his chosen boulder from a Riverside County quarry to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. But now he and his wife are staying in an Airstream trailer on the LACMA campus during the installation of Levitated Mass. ZevWeb covered the mounting of the boulder on its concrete home this week and caught up with Heizer, who is pictured above giving a tour of the installation to architect Frank Gehry. Sample:
As LACMA Director Michael Govan watched from the sidelines, dust gathering on his dark blue dress suit, the 67-year-old Heizer issued orders from inside the trench, squinting behind sunglasses in a yellow hardhat. Overhead, the boulder dangled from a massive red gantry crane.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa!” the crew cautioned as the 340-ton boulder met the 456-foot-long slot and settled into position. A layer of high-density grout squeezed out across the steel plates that secure the rock to its cradle. Finally—after a flurry of testing, adjusting and grout-scraping—the artist, renowned for precision, relaxed slightly.
“It landed perfect,” he 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.
The artwork’s assembly this week offered a rare glimpse of the famously publicity-averse artist with the creation that generated a Southern California spectacle earlier this year. For 11 nights in February and March, the granite boulder was a local celebrity as it moved 105 miles on surface streets from a Jurupa Valley quarry to the backyard at LACMA.
While Southern California cheered, partied, made marriage proposals and otherwise marveled at the raw material for Heizer’s project, the artist himself kept his distance—no TV interviews, no press calls, not even a cameo appearance at the boulder’s March 10 grand entrance at LACMA.
Late last month, however, Heizer quietly flew in 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.
Photo of Gehry, left, and Heizer from the Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky website