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LACMA presents two Michael Heizer exhibitions to complement Levitated Mass
Michael Heizer, Levitated Mass, 2012. Los Angeles County Museum of Art. ©Michael Heizer.

LOS ANGELES, CA.- Michael Heizer’s ambitious, large-scale projects are often difficult to realize and just as difficult to document. In the documentation of his own work and of natural sites, the artist took a similarly radical approach by creating photographs and projections scaled to actual size.

Michael Heizer: Actual Size presents the artist’s large-scale photographic works in two galleries. In the Resnick Pavilion, Actual Size: Munich Rotary (1971)—shown for the first time in more than three decades—projects Heizer’s 1969 work Munich Depression, a displacement of 1,000 tons of soil from an unbuilt area near Munich, Germany. Installed in BCAM is a series of fifteen individual actual-size photographic prints of rocks in their natural environment that Heizer began in 1970.

Taken together, Levitated Mass and Actual Size make a statement about humanity that is both sweeping in scope and specific to our time. “We live in a world that’s technological and primordial simultaneously,” Heizer has said. “I guess the idea is to make art that reflects this premise.”

Michael Heizer was born in Berkeley, California, in 1944. He briefly attended the San Francisco Art Institute and moved to New York City in 1966, where he produced large-scale paintings. In the late 1968-69, Heizer chose to operate between his studios in New York and a ranch he eventually built in Nevada. Here, he began to produce large-scale sculptures such as Nine Nevada Depressions and Displaced/Replaced Mass, as well as large earth drawings and paintings on dry lakes in California and Nevada. To interpret these immense sculptures in a gallery setting, Heizer developed his unique use of large-scale still photography in the form of collages and static projections. Several shows with oversize rock-in-floor depressions were produced in Los Angeles and New York with Ace Gallery. His 1969 artwork Double Negative (now owned by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles) inspired generations of artists. Heizer is currently completing his largest project, City, begun in 1972. Permanent installations of Heizer’s sculpture can be found throughout the United States, including Seattle, Washington; Oakland, California; the Menil Collection and Rice University in Houston, Texas; the MIT campus in Boston, Massachusetts and the corner of 56th and Madison Avenue in New York City. Major exhibitions of his work have been presented at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Foundazione Prada, Milan, Italy, and at the Rijksmuseum KröllerMüller, Otterlo, Holland.

Heizer’s maternal grandfather, Olaf P. Jenkins, was Chief of California Division of Mines; his paternal grandfather, Ott F. Heizer, was a mining engineer who managed the Nevada-Massachussets tungsten mine in Nevada. His father, Robert F. Heizer, was a prominent archaeologist. Among Robert F. Heizer’s best-known works were his studies of the Native American Indian cultures of California and Nevada and his examination of the Olmec culture at the La Venta site in Tabasco, where he and others excavated and discovered large stone monuments similar to those recently on view at LACMA.

This exhibition was organized by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art.

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