Screenshot of "Ugo Rondidone’s 7 Magic Mountains" by Birdman.
The debut of “Seven Magic Mountains” has inspired eloquent writing about public art in the desert. The New York Times’ Randy Kennedy wrote “the towering rocks are a “fitting first flag for the (Nevada) museum (of Art) to plant” in the search of reconciling the natural and artificial. For the Las Vegas Sun, Kristen Peterson lists a portfolio that proves this is not a Land Art fluke, but another in a long line of works that takes advantage of space and sky.
It also elicited event coverage unfamiliar to Las Vegas art circles. WWD Rebecca Kleinman raved about what was worn...like the “white maxidress from Tommy Hilfiger.”
Adding to the early approval is Bryan “Birdman’ Mier, the Los Angeles based photographer who trots the world documenting street art. After being hypnotized, he made it back to LA and posted a short video that he shot and edited. “Placement was everything and the vast desert landscape was perfect for it,” said the photographer about the rocks in the middle of somewhere. “It was a lot better seeing it coming from the south side. You couldn't see anything until you drove over a hill and BAM! Bright ass colored rocks. Beautiful to see but better to be in front of it.”
His video is just below. What others have written follows.
“The site is magical,” [Ugo] Rondinone says. “It’s historical. It’s charged.” he surrounding desert — so near, and yet so far, from Las Vegas’ man-made glitter — also creates a crucial contrast, he adds. “You cannot ignore Las Vegas. You have a contrary air between the city lights and the natural setting of the desert. What fascinates me is the silence,” the artist says.
" ‘Seven Magic Mountains’ adds vivid color to the desert" by Carol Cling for Las Vegas Review Journal (May 9).
The white-only-please dress code memo wasn’t publicized, so many guests wore vibrant fashions as an homage to the rainbow-favoring Swiss artist.
"Art Production Fund Toasts Ugo Rondinone’s ‘Seven Magic Mountains’ in Nevada" by Rebecca Kleinman for WWD (May 10).
Should you go see them?: Yes. For one thing, scale matters. Seeing them in pictures, even cool snaps like ours, is no substitute for grasping, firsthand, your relation to them size-wise. Also, site details matter — wind, traffic noises from I-15, sunlight, the chug of an occasional passing train, the different backdrops depending on your angle, the sky vaulting overhead. The unseen but gravitational presence of Las Vegas matters.
"A few thoughts on Seven Magic Mountains" by Scott Dickensheets for Desert Companion (May 10)
The other day, looking from a great distance on Interstate 15 toward the same lake bed, a few pinpoints of brightness were visible, neon anomalies against the dun-colored scrubland. Upon approach, the points quickly grew bigger, brighter, weirder, like a roadside attraction made by an atomically enlarged infant — seven totem-pole stacks of limestone boulders, the rocks painted in Kool-Aid shades so intense they were sometimes hard to look at in the full sunlight.
Randy Kennedy for NYTimes (May 11 )
"I've been traveling the world according to art since 1999, and this is the most satisfying arrival," says independent art curator Natalie Kovacs, who attended the installation's private preview before its official unveiling on May 11. "And it changes all the time. It’s even more beautiful today with the clouds."
Rebecca Kleinman for Hollywood Reporter (May 11)
Ugo Rondidone at Seven Magic Mountains by Ed Fuentes for Paint This Desert.
“When I visited Las Vegas for the first time in 2012, I came out here and was surprised that in 15 minutes you’re in the complete desert,” says Rondinone, who was onsite for the work’s official unveiling earlier last week. “What’s fascinating about the desert is the silence. You’re liberated.”
"Nevada desert is home to must-see landscape art" by Kristen Peterson for Las Vegas Sun (May 16)
Actually, it was hot and windy, but once the sun began to set, the irradiated colors of the stones deepened and grew ever more luminescent. They really did seem magical, especially marooned out there in the brown desert.
"Land’s End" by Linda Yablonsky for ArtForum (May 17)
It’s thoroughly photogenic, but photos don’t tell the whole story. Those towers are 30-35 feet tall. You have to actually stand among these vibrant monoliths to fully appreciate the piece. “It’s insane tenacity,” Northrup says, adding that she was “near tears” when she and her colleagues finally saw the finished piece. “Compared to, say, projects by Christo, this probably seems moderate, but to us, it’s been a huge undertaking.”
"Seven Things We Like About Seven Magic Mountains" by Geoff Carter for Vegas Seven (May 18).
“They are inspired by hoodoos,” Rondinone said of the Vegas pieces. Hoodoos? “Those are the pile formations that you have in Utah, mostly, where you have granite over the limestone, and the limestone, it is softer, so it gets washed out with the ice age,” and thus tall, improbable-looking rock towers are formed. “And of course,” he continued, “also the meditation practice of balancing stones.”
"This Magic Moment" by Andrew Russeth for ArtNews (May 31)
ABOVE: James Turrell at Crystals monorail station.