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“The Lightning Field” Getting First Ever Conservation Treatment

by Hrag Vartanian on June 8, 2012

Photo of Walter de Maria's "The Lightning Field" (1977) (photo via Shelley Bernstein's Flickrstream)

Today, DIA disseminated the news that during spring 2013 Walter De Maria’s seminal “The Lightning Field” (1977), one of the foundation’s earliest commissions, will be receiving its first major preservation treatment in the artwork’s history. For those of you who may not know the work, “The Lightning Field” is set in a mile-by-kilometer grid in a remote area of western New Mexico, and it is comprised of 400 steel poles — two inches in diameter and averaging 20 feet and 7½ inches in height — that are spaced 220 feet apart and have solid pointed tips that define a horizontal plane.

As part of DIA’s press release blast, we’re treated to the news that Miuccia Prada and Larry Gagosian are “lead funders,” but the kicker is this choice quote from the über-dealer himself, Larry Gagosian, who declares:

“‘The Lightning Field’ is like Mount Rushmore for a new generation.”

It is certainly a fascinating and complex art work, but the Mount Rushmore comparison seems like an overreach, particularly since art works that require a pilgrimage are not in short supply and certainly predate the 1970s enthusiasm that the Earth Art set tapped into. But when Gagosian speaks, people listen.

For those interested in experiencing the “The Lightning Field” in person, you should know that it will be open in 2012 through October for overnight visits, which are limited to six people at a time by reservation. The field will close to the public in late winter 2013, reopening for visits in summer 2013.

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