North, East, South, West - Michael Heizer, 1967/2002.
Environmental Art - Negative sculpture, length: 125+ feet/depth: 20 feet.
The first such “negative” form in Heizer’s work was North, East, South, West, which the artist produced in wood and sheet metal in 1967, putting two of the four elements, North and South, in the ground in the Sierra Nevada in California. The work has now been constructed in its entirety as a permanent feature of Dia’s museum in Beacon, in the size and material (weathering steel) that Heizer originally specified for it. These four diverse sculptural elements— two stacked cubic forms, one larger and one smaller (North); a cone (South); a triangular trough (West); and an inverted truncated cone (East)—together measure more than 125 feet in length, and sink from the floor of the gallery to a depth of 20 feet. When the work was first developed, such dimensions had no precedent in the art of recent times. The simplified, monumental geometric forms of North, East, South, West also share affinities with futuristic Constructivist sculpture and modernist architecture. In sum, the piece suggests the underlying Euclidean lexicon of basic three-dimensional forms—box, cone, and wedge—essential for all sculpture, ancient and modern. Going more deeply still, the forms suggest the molecular crystalline morphology from which all physical shapes in matter are derived.
Permanent Collection of the DIA Art Foundation, Beacon, New York.
(Experienced this in person, July 2013)