“Altars,” Michael Heizer’s Gagosian debut, is named for a series of three new works that alone nearly fill the massive Chelsea gallery. The Earth artist, best known for Double Negative (1969-70)—two 50-foot-deep holes dug in the sides of a Nevada mesa—here explores the tension between eye-level and aerial viewpoints. The 40-foot-long “Altar” sculptures, composed of polyurethane-coated steel forms resembling crude tools or bones that lean against stepped platforms, can only be viewed piecemeal, the apexes of the work reaching nearly seven feet. Horizontality—a concept equally central to Heizer’s in-progress City in the Nevada desert—gives way to pictorial framing in pieces containing natural stones. Potato Chip (2015), an 18-ton chunk of granite secured with exposed bolts to a steel rectangle, dramatically illustrates the brute force required to harness nature. Slick, hard-edged paintings from the ‘60s and ‘70s evince the simple forms that Heizer continues to refine in his Land art experimentations.
Pictured: Installation view of Michael Heizer’s Altar 2, 2015, weathering steel coated with polyurethane, 7½ by 40 by 43 1/3 feet. Photo Robert McKeever. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery.