(CENTRAL EASTERN NEVADA – August 19, 2022) – Triple Aught Foundation, the not-for-profit organization responsible for managing the long-term oversight and maintenance of Michael Heizer’s immense sculpture the City, today announced that the vast, open-air artwork will begin to accept visits from the public, by advance reservation only, beginning September 2, 2022. Visits will be limited for the first year of operation.
An artwork of extraordinary size and ambition, the City has long been a legend, even as a work in progress. More than half a century in the making—a time scale suggestive of the immemorial cultures that have inspired it—the City is as monumental as an ancient, pre-Columbian complex or Egyptian ceremonial structure and is as starkly uncompromising as the high desert of Nevada’s Basin and Range National Monument, the environment that is its setting and substance. Composed of shaped mounds and depressions made of compacted dirt, rock, and concrete, the City is more than a mile and a half long and a half mile wide.
Influential in the second half of the 20th century and continuing into the 21st, Michael Heizer is known for producing large outdoor earthwork sculptures and for his work with rock, concrete, and steel that exists both outside and inside museums and galleries. Heizer started to build the City in the early 1970s in a continuation of the work he had created in the West where he was born, beginning with the negative North and South in the Sierras (1967), and anticipating the epoch-making Double Negative at Mormon Mesa (1969). His earthworks, which live outside in the environment, are known to elicit responses not common to architecturally dependent artworks.
Acquiring remote parcels of property over the decades, consolidating them into the ideal location for his sculpture, and using materials mined from the land itself, Heizer merged his interests in non-inhabited forms in Native American traditions of mound-building, the pre-Columbian cities of Central and South America, and his studies of Egyptian construction with his singular ability to work with immense variations in scale, perspective, and viewpoint. The result is a lifetime achievement of breathtaking complexity and size, evoking ancient ceremonial constructions while also suggesting the forms of a modern city’s central hub.
Describing the City, art critic Dave Hickey wrote, “Approaching the cut on foot from the north or south, elements of a cityscape seem to be rising or falling from within the excavation that cuts flat into the rising ridge… As one walks up to an overlook, Heizer’s cultural interventions open out the space. The roads and domes and pits within the excavation are elegantly curbed into long, quiet Sumerian curves. They restore our sense of distance and scale, so the complexity of City reveals itself as a gracious intervention in the desert… composed and complete.”
Construction of the City was originally funded by Heizer himself, eventually joined by individuals and institutions including Virginia Dwan, Dia Art Foundation, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and Lannan Foundation. The Triple Aught Foundation, established in 1998 to help complete the work, owns and manages the City and is charged with its long-term preservation.
Triple Aught Foundation has established an endowment for the City with initial funding close to $30 million.
A coalition of institutions across the United States has joined together to ensure the financial and operational sustainability of the City. These institutions are Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art (Bentonville, Arkansas), Glenstone Museum (Potomac, Maryland), the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Los Angeles, California), and the Museum of Modern Art (New York, New York). Representatives of the participating institutions, who have decades-long experience in museum governance and institutional management, have joined the Triple Aught Foundation Board of Directors, bolstering its already robust membership. Board members are Michael Heizer, President; and Rod Bigelow, Executive Director and Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art; David Booth, Board of Trustees, Museum of Modern Art; Virginia Dwan, founder of Dwan Gallery, Los Angeles, and New York; Michael Govan, CEO and Wallis Annenberg Director, Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Dana Lee, Dana and Gregory Lee Family Foundation; Alexis Lowry, curator, Dia Art Foundation; Glenn D. Lowry, David Rockefeller Director, the Museum of Modern Art; Emily Wei Rales, Co-Founder and Director, Glenstone Museum; Ann Tenenbaum, Trustee of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Studio Museum in Harlem; Kara Vander Weg, Senior Director, Gagosian; Charlie Wright, Board of Trustees, Dia Art Foundation; and Elaine Wynn, Co-Chair, Board of Trustees, LACMA.
Triple Aught Foundation Board member and renowned gallerist Virginia Dwan said, “Michael Heizer is one of the greatest innovators of our time and I still believe today what I thought when Heizer began the City, that this work demanded to be built. It is extraordinary that he has completed one of the most important artworks of this century, over decades in the making, and I have been fortunate enough to witness this transformative sculptural intervention from the very beginning.”
Triple Aught Foundation Board member Michael Govan, CEO and Wallis Annenberg Director of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, said, “Over the years I would sometimes compare Michael Heizer’s City project to some of the most important ancient monuments and cities. But now I only compare it to itself. It’s an artwork aware of our primal impulses to build and organize space, but it incorporates our modernity, our awareness of and reflection upon the subjectivity of our human experience of time and space as well as the many histories of civilizations we have built. Working with Michael Heizer for more than 25 years to help him realize his City project has been one of the most important experiences of my own life and work.”
Emily Wei Rales, Co-Founder and Director of Glenstone Museum, said, “Michael Heizer’s monumental sculptures have been an essential part of Glenstone’s visitor experience, which is centered around the seamless integration of art, architecture, and landscape. We are now deeply gratified to join in this new coalition, whose cross-country, multi-institutional nature is a testament to the importance of the City.”
Olivia Walton, Board Chairperson of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, said, “Michael Heizer has spoken brilliantly and movingly about conceiving the City as an American creation, possible only within this terrain. For Crystal Bridges, an American art institution built for its own part of the continent, support for the City and cooperation with our peer institutions around the country is a natural outgrowth of our mission.”
Elaine Wynn, Triple Aught Foundation Board Member, said, “It’s so fitting that Michael Heizer’s City project, one of the most magnificent and monumental artworks ever created, is situated in the vast and beautiful and equally monumental desert of Nevada’s Basin and Range.”
As it prepares to open the City to visits from the public, the Triple Aught Foundation mourns the death of J. Patrick Lannan, Jr., whose enthusiasm for the work and ongoing support were integral to its realization. Speaking about the City in a 2005 interview, he said, “It’s going to be a monumental gift to culture for generations to come.”
Triple Aught Foundation expresses its gratitude to the Conservation Lands Foundation and especially the late Senator Harry Reid for his tireless and successful advocacy for the creation of the Basin and Range National Monument, which includes and protects the City, established by Presidential proclamation in 2015. Speaking about Michael Heizer in a 2020 interview, Senator Reid said, “Michael Heizer is truly a Nevadan and I did everything I could to help with that project of his.” Triple Aught Foundation thanks the Bureau of Land Management for its cooperation with Michael Heizer and the Foundation, and for its expert and dedicated conservation of the Basin and Range.
Triple Aught Foundation respectfully acknowledges that the City has been created within the ancestral territories of the Nuwu (Southern Paiute) and Newe (Western Shoshoni), who lived in and around the vicinity and call this land home, as their ancestors did before them.
The City is located in a remote valley of the high desert in eastern Nevada. To preserve the artwork and the landscape of the Basin and Range National Monument and ensure the well-being of visitors to this isolated and at times challenging environment, Triple Aught Foundation arranges and provides visits by advance reservation only. In 2022, reservations may be requested for dates between September 2 and November 1. Requests may be made only by writing to and will be answered on a first-come, first-served basis.
Additional information about reservations and visiting protocols will be made available in late September 2022.
About Michael Heizer
Michael Heizer was born in Berkeley, California, in 1944, and lives and works in New York and Nevada. Collections include the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Dia Art Foundation, New York; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Menil Collection, Houston; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo, Netherlands; Kunstmuseum Basel; and Fondazione Prada, Milan, Italy. Solo exhibitions include Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo, Netherlands (1979); Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (1984); Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (1985); and Fondazione Prada, Milan (1996). Permanent installations include Adjacent, Against, Upon, Myrtle Edwards Park, Seattle (1976); Levitated Mass, 590 Madison Avenue, New York (1982); 45°, 90°, 80°, Rice University, Houston (1984); Dissipate (1968–70), Isolated Mass/Circumflex (1968–78), and Rift (1968–82), Menil Collection, Houston; North, East, South, West, Dia Beacon, NY (1967–2002); Tangential Circular Negative Line, Fondation Air & Art, Sierre, Switzerland (1968–2012); Levitated Mass, Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2012); Collapse (1967–2016) and Compression Line (1968–2016), Glenstone, Potomac, MD; and Double Negative (1969), a land sculpture owned and managed by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, on public view on Mormon Mesa, NV.
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