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Mormon Mesa, Nevada: Michael Heizer's Enlarge image

Mormon Mesa, Nevada: Michael Heizer's "Double Negative", 1996, printed 1997

Mark Ruwedel
American, 1954
gelatin silver print, toned
37.1 x 47.4 cm
Gift of the artist, Vancouver, 1999
National Gallery of Canada (no. 40204)

dark rocky escarpment with man-made cut in horizon line
One of the earliest and most famous contemporary earthworks is the monumental "Double Negative", begun in 1969 (and reworked in 1970) by Michael Heizer. By means of explosives and bulldozers, 240,000 tonnes of earth and rock were displaced from the desert near Overton, Nevada, to cut two opposing slices (9 meters wide, 15 deep, and 457 in length) from the slopes and surface of the Mormon Mesa. These cuts create negative space, and are thus unusual in the realm of sculpture. Traditionally, three-dimensional artworks involve forms created through the addition of materials. This "sculpture in reverse," as Heizer calls it, entails the removal of matter, and generates forms that give viewers the opportunity to occupy the space "inside" rather than just "around" artworks.

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