“City,” a massive complex of exterior structures and landmasses that land artist Michael Heizer began building in the Nevada desert in 1970, will finally welcome public visitors next month. The opening of the site on September 2, more than 50 years after work began on 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 are allowed, with mandatory pre-registration.
“City” has been described as possibly the greatest work of contemporary art in the world. Credit: Ben Blackwell
Initially funded by Heizer itself, the construction of “City” eventually gained 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 — of which Heizer himself, director of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and chief executive Michael Govan, director of the Museum of Modern Art Glenn D. Lowry, collector and co-founder of Glenstone Emily Wei Rales, and Gagosian senior director Kara Vander Weg, is a member of the board. – established an endowment for City with nearly $30 million in initial funding.
“Over the years, I sometimes compared Michael Heizer’s ‘City’ project to some of the most important ancient monuments and cities,” Govan said in a statement. “But now I only compare it to itself. It is a work of art that is aware of our primordial impulses to build and organize space, but it contains 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’ve built.”
Heizer’s attempt to build “City” has a complicated history spanning five decades. The artist, now 77 years old, believes it will last for centuries. Credit: Mary Converse
Perhaps in response to such threats, Heizer sees ‘City’ as a project that far exceeds the lifespan of even the most valuable and bold of contemporary art.