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Los Angeles museum unveils Heizer’s 340-ton floating rock star

  • People get a closer view of Michael Heizer's ''Levitated Mass,'' which features a 340-ton megalith rock, on opening day of the permanent exhibit at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art Sunday. (REUTERS/Jonathan Alcorn)

LOS ANGELES: The rock was the star as the Los Angeles County Museum of Art pulled the covers off artist Michael Heizer’s latest creation – a 340-ton boulder positioned to appear as though it’s floating in midair.

About a thousand people showed up under sunny skies in Los Angeles as the gigantic work titled “Levitated Mass” was unveiled Sunday on LACMA’s backyard, where it is intended to remain forever.

Its centerpiece is the two-story-tall chunk of granite that was hauled 169 kilometers from a Riverside rock quarry earlier this year. Since then, the rock has been carefully positioned above a 142-meter-long trench that museum visitors can stroll through. From the trench, the rock appears to be hovering overhead.

The 67-year-old Heizer, who rarely appears in public, was on hand for the ribbon-cutting ceremony and led the first procession under the big rock. As he passed, he waved and shook hands with the gathering of museum officials and art enthusiasts.

The same day the museum opened “Michael Heizer: Actual Size,” an exhibition of more than a dozen gigantic photographs showing other works by the artist. Heizer may be best known for “Double Negative,” a 457-meter-long land sculpture cut into a desert mesa in southern Nevada.

Heizer had planned for more than 40 years to create “Levitated Mass,” but had to locate the perfect rock. He finally located one in a quarry on the outskirts of Riverside about seven years ago. It took dozens of people and a specially built trailer to haul it over the surface streets of 22 cities.

The trip lasted nearly two weeks, with the rock traveling only at night and rarely faster than 8 kilometers per hour. Thousands of people turned out to cheer it on.

To thank those inconvenienced by the process, the museum has granted free admission for a week to people from areas traversed by the rock.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on June 26, 2012, on page 16.
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