confounding the heartiest neanderthal


A Neanderthal wandering around Chelsea might feel at home at Michael Heizer’s show — but then again, he might not. The forms in Mr. Heizer’s eight “stone sculptures” will seem familiar to him, as they are near-exact reproductions of Stone Age tools, a range of Paleolithic and Neolithic implements from disparate parts of the world. But the function could not be more remote. Pointed up with precision from minute user-friendly originals, (made by and for the hand, the tools were an inch or so long) these have been blown up to as much as 16 feet, to confound the hardiest neanderthal.

“Prismatic Flake” (1989) is the longest at 197 inches; some kind of cutting device in its original usage, it is suspended on a steel base, an open cube with welded bracket supports. The sheer, elongated form has the graceful menace of a Samurai sword. Like the other tools, it is reconstructed in modified concrete around a hollow interior. Whatever one’s response to the works aesthetically, technically they are a tour de force.

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