American Artist Michael Heizer Unveils 52-Year Project called “City” in the Nevada Desert

Michael Heizer, "City," Nevada Desert

Imagine being in the middle of nowhere in Nevada; it’s just you and a barren desert, nothing else. Suddenly, you see grand cement structures, some pyramidic in shape; curvaceous geoglyphs wind in different directions, casting an air of ancientness. Is this puzzling brutalist compound some weird science fiction dream? No, it’s not — you’ve arrived at City, a colossal site-specific art installation created by artist Michael Heizer. 

Conceptualized in 1970, Heizer has spent the last 50+ years constructing the mile-and-a-half-long City. To have it resemble some of the world’s greatest civilizations, the artist, with minimal invasiveness, collected clay, sand, and rock elements from the surrounding environment. Its isolated location within the high desert pays tribute to the artist’s family’s roots in the state dating back to the 1800s, as well as the remoteness of ancient settlements. 

Michael Heizer, "City," Nevada Desert
(Credit: D. Piasecki)

The desolate, earthen geometric complexes are inhabitable structures reminiscent of Mesopotamian hubs and Native American mounds. Noteworthy landmarks within the instillation include 45°, 90°, 180° — an assemblage of jagged pyramidal structures built from concrete that lie in a depression — and Complex One — a sizable mound of accumulated dirt flanked by quadrilateral concrete retaining walls on each side.

With financial support from institutions such as the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; and Museum of Modern Art, New York, Heizer was able to further fund the production of his life-long work.

Michael Heizer, "City," Nevada Desert
(Credit: Mary Converse)

With its complicated five-decade history, Heizer believes that the City will stand the test of time. Owned and operated by the Triple Aught Foundation — which includes Heizer as a board member himself — the organization will manage the installation for years to come.

Just two hours north of Las Vegas, the City is part of the Basin and Range National Monument.

Visitation to the City opens September 2, 2022 to visitors with pre-approved reservations. Registration to visit the City next year will be available starting at midnight on January 2, 2023.

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