North, East, South, West, 1967/2002. Four geometric voids, view of work as installed at Dia: Beacon. Photo: To Vinetz. Courtesy Dia Art Foundation.

Michael Heizer: Sculpture in Space and Time

Michael Heizer introduced substantial questions into the discourse of sculpture in the late 1960s and ’70s, offering new experiences with his bold choices of site, material, and scale. His use of rocks, stones, earth, and desert landscapes is integral to his core aesthetic and reflects his upbringing as the son of an eminent archaeologist: Heizer traveled with his parents to numerous ancient sites where these materials were fundamental building elements.

Heizer has said his interest is neither in nature nor in romantic notions of the Western landscape, but purely in art. His sculptural vocabulary presents sculpture both as space, offering the viewer a walk within his manmade canyons, as well as sculpture as object, a more traditional experience of confronting the art object. His Nine Nevada Depressions, a series of shallow depressions cut into the desert’s surface, appear as abstract shapes or drawings. In the monumental 45°, 90°, 180° and Charmstone, a smooth oblong sculpture from the ’90s, there is a conscious return to the prehistoric.