The trouble is, once you say something about a source, then you’ve pegged it down, and so now I’m reluctant to say anything. If I say I developed 50 different shapes from Mississippian tumuli, that doesn’t mean they’re copies of tumuli – I’m not ripping off those shapes.
The size thing is not some gimmick or attention-getting trick but a genuine undercurrent of the work. Frank Gehry for instance likes to imagine his buildings as sculptures. I like to imagine my sculptures as architectural.
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I was taken out of school by my dad when I was 11 and lived in Mexico City, then later in Paris. I went with him to excavate in Bolivia and Peru. I never finished high school. I was a straight F student anyway. My father admitted to me later that he’d thought I would come to no good.
I think size is the most unused quotient in the sculptor’s repertoire because it requires lots of commitment and time. To me it’s the best tool. With size you get space and atmosphere: atmosphere becomes volume. You stand in the shape, in the zone.
Michael Heizer was born in Berkeley, California, in 1944, the son of the distinguished University of California, Berkeley archaeologist Dr. Robert Heizer. He spent a year in high school, in France. He attended the San Francisco Art Institute and moved to New York City, where he found a loft on Mercer Street in SoHo and began producing conventional, small-scale paintings and sculptures.
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