Rock Out with Michael Heizer’s Levitating Boulder at LACMAAuthor:Julia Benton
The creators of Stonehenge and Egyptian pharaohs would have approved. Last Sunday, Michael Heizer’s “Levitated Mass,” the media-friendly sculptural installation starring a 340-ton granite boulder opened to the public at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. After four decades of planning and a 105-mile odyssey, the rock officially came to rest, where it is expected to sit for the next 3,500 years.
The rock drew massive attention when it made an 11-night, 60-mile journey this past March from a quarry in Riverside through a series of Los Angeles County cities to the LACMA grounds on Wilshire Boulevard. The boulder traveled on a specially made transporter at just a few miles per hour as it passed over streets, bridges, and sharp turns—a trip that required months of logistical planning and negotiating with local municipalities. Moving the rock involved stringing it up on cables between two long pieces of red steel to evenly distribute its weight. Workers from Emmert International created the boulder-hauling vehicle which measured roughly 300 feet long and had 22 axles and nearly 200 tires.
It may have taken a long time to transport the rock to the museum, but that’s nothing compared to how long it took Heizer to find the perfect rock. He first sketched the project in the 1960s and even previously tried to build “Levitated Mass” in 1969 with a smaller boulder, though the crane attempting to lift the giant rock snapped. It wasn’t until 2005, when a routine blast at Stone Valley Quarry finally produced the boulder he’d imagined, that the project started coming together. The museum funded “Levitated Mass” with nearly $10 million in private donations. Workers began digging the installation’s trench in the parkland outside the museum over a year ago.
The 67-year-old Heizer is know for his large-scale sculptures and land art. His masterwork is a mile and a half long collection of mounds and depressions called “City” in the Nevada desert near his home. He began working on it in the 70s and won’t be done for a few more years.
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