Durham Press is pleased to present a beautiful new group of intaglio prints by Michael Heizer, titled Altars. While Heizer is best known for his large, monumental works, Altars features some of his signature imagery on a more intimate scale.
Each of the twelve square prints in Altars depicts two discrete shapes in neat vertical alignment. Also serving as the basis for massive steel sculptures that were exhibited in 2015 at Gagosian Gallery, New York, these shapes recall rudimentary tools or ideographic letters and have been compared to cattle brands. For the sculptures, Heizer coated the forms with glossy white polyurethane, detailed them with screenprinted abstracted imagery, and propped them on angles over weathering steel. The prints, however, present the marks in a simplified, unadulterated state. Each mark was made from a separate, custom-cut copper plate that was inked but wiped almost completely clean before printing, leaving only a ghostly tint in the embossed area. The minimal composition emphasizes the primal, preliterate power of these shapes. At the same time, it highlights the texture of the handmade paper, and the arrangement and repetition of the marks suggests a system of language and typography.