Michael Govan and Dave Hickey Discuss Land Artist Michael Heizer's 'City'

April 17, 2015 5:59 PM

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Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) director Michael Govan and art critic Dave Hickey have convened in Las Vegas for a conversation about contemporary land art, focusing on Michael Heizer's "City" project in Lincoln County, Nevada. Standing at a podium on the Cabaret Jazz stage at the Smith Center for the Performing Arts, Michael Govan begins with a projected image of a 19th century painting of the Sierra Nevada mountains by German-American artist Albert Bierstadt. He suggests that painters and poets have helped shape our appreciation of the landscape, but describes Michael Heizer as seeing landscape in a different way, utilizing the land itself as canvas.

Having previously traveled the 50 miles north-east of Las Vegas to visit Heizer's "Double Negative" land art, I can visualize Govan's description of the "monumental absence" in this work. The double cleft on the edge of the Mormon Mesa measures 1,500 feet long by 30 feet wide and 50 feet deep. Heize...

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