Secret Massive Land Sculpture Nears Completion

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For 42 years, construction workers in the Nevada desert have been building one of the most massive sculptures ever created, which is now nearing completion.

Heavy equipment operators under the direction of artist Michael Heizer, have labored over 40 years on Heizer’s life’s work—a piece of earth art called City.

The sculpture is a mile long, quarter-mile wide assembly of dirt, rock, and concrete. It is located far from any towns, in the remote desert of Garden Valley in Lincoln County, Nevada. The massive, multimillion-dollar structure serves no purpose but to be looked at.

“You do cry. You think, what an incredibly beautiful ambition,” Michael Govan, director of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, told New York Times Magazine.

Heizer is very secretive about his unfinished masterpiece; he lets very few visitors in to view the project, and only a limited amount of pictures have been released of it.

The piece is inspired by Mississippian mounds, Mesoamerican ball courts, and other ancient structures. It is divided into five phases, which Heizer calls complexes, by giant depressions and mounds of earth. Some parts of the sculpture are over 80 feet tall.

Heizer chose the remote location on purpose. He wanted his structure to be experienced in the quiet, lonesome, emptiness of the desert.

This delicate setting has recently been threatened by a proposal by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). The proposal is for the construction of a rail line over which trains would carry nuclear waste to a disposal site. The proposed route for the rail line runs through Garden Valley, and comes near to City.

Several art associations are trying to persuade DOE to build the rail line through an adjacent valley. The Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) issued a resolution that said, “Rail construction and operation will permanently destroy a visitor’s experience of Heizer’s isolated sculpture by causing irrevocable harm to the Valley’s undisturbed emptiness and the silence of its delicate desert environment.”

According to, a bill has recently been introduced that would protect land near City from oil and gas drilling, which upset energy companies.





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