Michael Heizer’s work has consistently entailed the investigation and disposition of large and simple geometries. His name is most often associated with the immense land drawings and other projects executed in the late 1960s and 1970s in the Nevada deserts that involved the systematic placement of tons of earth to create vast and dramatic markings.
Both the materials and forms of Guennette are more polished and urbane than this earlier work, though its size and presence approach the monumental. “I wanted to build it big; to the limit, the technological limit of what the rock could be slabbed at,” explained Heizer. The piece is composed of eleven slabs of billion-year-old pink granite mined in the northeastern Quebec town of Guennette. The idea of a series of interrelated circles and circle fragments had been previously explored in smaller works by Heizer conceived for gallery or museum installation. Here, however, the sheer size of the individual elements and their collective mass and impact transcends traditional exhibition limitations to require and repay an architectural setting. The tightly honed edges of the granite blocks reverberate against the sharp lines of the encompassing architecture. It is perhaps not coincidental that the thickness of the separate slabs is, if not equivalent, then at least analagous to the building blocks of architecture.
The sculpture, on long-term loan from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, was previously installed in an urban plaza in Manhattan; it was reconfigured for its MIT setting. One large horizontal circle sets the proportions and relationships of the remaining ten sections which all derive from small circles. In spite of its smooth finish and austere monumentality, the ensemble is accessible to the spectator through its implicit invitation to reconstruct or otherwise decipher the ordering system that underlies the configuration.
Pink Laurentian granite
100 in. x 250 in. x 248 in. (254 cm x 635 cm x 629.92 cm)
Lent by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York