Altars, Michael Heizer’s portfolio of twelve intaglio prints with Durham Press, translates the monumental installations the artist is known for into a far more intimate scale. Each of the twelve 20 ¼ inch square prints depicts two discrete shapes that recall rudimentary tools or ideographic letters and have been compared to cattle brands. These same symbols occur in Heizer’s other work such as in the massive steel sculptures that were exhibited in 2015 at Gagosian Gallery, New York, as well as his ongoing land art piece titled City in Nevada, a 1.5 mile stretch of land carefully mapped out with complex excavations and structures which Heizer began in the 1970s.
The same symbols that Heizer has constructed on a monumental scale in City are isolated and featured in Altars, presenting 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 that brings out the physicality of the highly embossed area and highlights the texture of the handmade paper. The arrangement and repetition of these marks, especially when seen in conjunction with each other, suggest a system of language and topography. Altars concentrates the recurring forms in Heizer’s work to their basic yet nuanced shapes to emphasize their primal, preliterate power as they emerge from the paper.
Michael Heizer | Altars