Pop-music allusions are inevitable when referring to Levitated Mass, the “rock star” boulder that finally made its debut as a work of art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) over the weekend.
Three hundred and forty tons of granite, suspended over a concrete channel carved out of parkland adjacent to the museum, the massive “sculpture” had already created quite a bit of a sensation in March, when it was transported across 22 cities en route to the Big Orange. Street parties erupted at stops along the way of the traveling monolith’s 11-day, 100-mile journey. (In a nice marketing move, residents of the zip codes along the four-county route have free admission to the site through the end of this week.)
The seeds for the project were sown over 40 years ago, but it was in 2005 that artist Michael Heizer finally found the stone he envisioned, when it was created out of a routine blast at the Stone Valley Quarry in California’s Riverside County. The reclusive Heizer – the L.A. Times calls him the “Thomas Pynchon of the contemporary art world” – is well-known for his so-called “land” (or “earth”) art, already come to life in a mysterious mile-and-a-half-long undertaking named City, in the Nevada desert near his home.
Visitors will experience something “like a walk-in version of an alien landscape painting by Surrealist Yves Tanguy,” says Christopher Knight in his review for the Times, which is borne out by the view from underneath the giant rock, shown below. The critic addresses the serious artistic underpinnings of the installation, funded by $10 million in private donations, when he notes: “The brooding sculptural ensemble marks time both cultural and geological…Unavoidably, it calls for contemplation of our transient place in the larger scheme of things.”
Almost like a touch of Stonehenge — in the sunny City of Angels.
(Photos/ top and above: Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)