So I’ve walked under the giant rock at LACMA several times and I’ve run past it every day for the past couple of weeks. I know you’ve been waiting with bated breath, and now my verdict is in: Meh.
I really wanted to like “Levitated Mass.” I tend to be a little cynical about some things, so I purposely kept an open mind about what appeared to be a huge vanity project. But now that I see it, and gave myself time to think about it, I am underwhelmed.
It is really just a big boulder sitting on two shelves on top of heavily reinforced concrete slabs. The name of the project is extremely misleading; if it was supposed to look “levitated” in the mind of creator Michael Heizer, the shelves ruin the illusion.
The surroundings are bleak — just acres of gravel. They are going for a desert look, but at least they could put some plantings here and there to make it more visually appealing.
In the end, though, it is still a welcome addition to the LACMA campus. The lush green lawn it replaced might have been prettier, but it would have ended up to be useless land. In another city it might have become a public gathering place for sun worshipers, but Los Angeles is not that type of town. We have the beach here for that, and many people have their own lawns.
It definitely is a curiosity that will bring people to the museum and will be a must-see for visitors to our city. Those are positive things.
But is it art? I would have to say no, in my opinion. It certainly is an engineering marvel, but that doesn’t make it art. I give credit to Heizer for not pushing the art thing down our throats, saying, “It symbolizes how we are between a rock and a hard place when it comes to world peace.” or some other nonsense. By all accounts he admits it is just a giant rock that does not symbolize anything.
Whether we like it or not, “Levitated Mass” is here to stay, probably forever. I mean, who wants to move that thing again?