“City,” a vast complex of outdoor structures and landmasses that land artist Michael Heizer began building in the Nevada desert in 1970, will finally begin welcoming public visitors next month. The site’s opening on September 2, more than 50 years after work began at the site, marks the fulfillment of Heizer’s most ambitious and career-defining project.
For the first year of public accessibility, only a limited number of visitors will be allowed, with mandatory advanced registration.
“City” has been described as possibly the largest contemporary work of art in the world. Credit: Ben Blackwell
Initially financed by Heizer himself, construction of “City” eventually received the support of many influential collectors, institutions and dealers through the establishment in 1998 of the Triple Aught Foundation, which will manage and preserve the site for years to come. The foundation — whose board includes Heizer himself, Los Angeles County Museum of Art director and CEO Michael Govan, Museum of Modern Art director Glenn D. Lowry, collector and Glenstone co-founder Emily Wei Rales and Gagosian senior director Kara Vander Weg – – established an endowment for City with nearly $30 million in initial funding.
“Over the years I would sometimes compare Michael Heizer’s ‘City’ project to some of the most important ancient monuments and cities,” says Govan in a statement. “But now I only compare it to itself. It is a work of art that is aware of our primal impulses to build and organize space, but it incorporates our modernity, our awareness of and reflection on the subjectivity of our human experience of time and space as well as the many histories of civilizations we have built.”
Heizer’s effort to build “City” has a complicated history spanning five decades. The artist, now 77 years old, believes it will continue for centuries. Credit: Mary Converse
Perhaps in response to such threats, Heizer envisions “City” as a project that will continue far beyond the lifespan of even the most precious and tough contemporary art.