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Non-levitated mass

Guy Horton criticizes Michael Heiser’s new artwork at the LA County Museum of Art.

Photo of Levitated Mass

I saw it a couple of weeks ago. And outwardly, it’s nothing but a giant rock with a walkway cut underneath it. But inwardly, it’s a big expensive rock with a pointless walkway cut underneath it.

Aesthetically, I got nothing from it. The rock is big and heavy. The walkway is sloping and concretey. Walking underneath it reveals nothing about the rock except that its looks the same from underneath as from ground level.

So maybe it’s one of them artworks that are really about an idea. But what idea? Rocks are big? Rocks have bottoms? Do you like rocks? I like rocks. Some idea like that?

I’m not saying that you have to be able to explain everything about an artwork. I take as one of the points of Rothko’s paradigmatic works that you can’t really explain why the best of them are numinous.

But you can at least gesture at the colors and use a word like “numinous. If nobody can point to what there is to like about a work, then maybe it’s just a rock.

Here’s what the LACMA’s page says:

Taken whole, Levitated Mass speaks to the expanse of art history, from ancient traditions of creating artworks from megalithic stone, to modern forms of abstract geometries and cutting-edge feats of engineering.

In short: “It’s a rock. It wasn’t carved or nothing, and it was [email protected]#$ing hard to get it here. We hope you enjoy it $10M worth.”

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