Levitated Mass is a 2012 large-scale sculpture by Michael Heizer on the campus of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The installation consists of a 340-ton boulder affixed above a concrete trench through which visitors may walk. The nature, expense and scale of the installation made it an instant topic of discussion within the art world.
The piece is open to the public during museum hours and does not require museum admission.
The work comprises a 21.5-foot tall boulder mounted on the walls of a 456-foot long concrete trench, surrounded by 2.5 acres of compressed decomposed granite. The boulder is bolted to two shelves affixed to the inner walls of the trench, which descends from ground level to 15 feet below the stone at its center, allowing visitors to stand directly below the megalith.
Initial plans for the work described the boulder as being affixed to the trench walls themselves, giving the boulder the appearance of 'floating' when viewed from within the trench via optical illusion, hence the work's title. With the addition of the support shelves, this illusion does not occur. A 1982 Heizer work in Manhattan, also called Levitated Mass, consists of a much smaller, carved rock set on hidden supports, and does preserve this 'floating' effect.
Heizer rarely explains or comments on his work and has never offered a public explanation of Levitated Mass's meaning or significance. He has however described the piece as being 'static art' and emphasized the importance of the boulder's size and of the work's longevity, saying that the work is meant to last 3,500 years. LACMA has published a preliminary sketch of the work by Heizer that contains a handwritten notation saying that the work "destroys 'gestalt' concepts".