Photographic and Actual Works [with] Actual Size
Detroit: Detroit Institute of Arts, 1971.
First printing. (32) pp., 10 x 8 inches; (28) pp, 9.75 x 7.25 inches.
Photographic and Actual Works: Slight toning and soiling to wrappers, tiny chip from corner of front wrapper and two tiny closed tears to rear wrapper, a few mild creases, generally about fine; Actual Size: Faint tidemark to lower corner near spine, tiny discoloration to front wrapper, generally about fine. Item #4588
In 1971, Sam Wagstaff invited artist Michael Heizer to have his first museum exhibition at the Detroit Institute of Arts, where Wagstaff had recently been hired as curator of contemporary art. Heizer by this time had forsworn “working inside,” and central to his plans for the show was a permanent earthwork, to be created by dragging a thirty-ton block of granite across the museum lawn behind two Caterpillar tractors, lodging it into the ground. When the board of trustees backtracked on the agreements, Heizer canceled the show, and Wagstaff quit his job, moving back to New York (where he would soon famously begin his relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe and his collection of photographs).
After heated last-minute negotiations, the exhibition proceeded, a month later than originally intended, with a new name (and without Wagstaff). Heizer made Dragged Mass as planned, displacing three hundred tons of earth, and creating an “impressive” pile of dirt, eight feet high and four hundred feet long, but the board later voted to remove it, and the museum lawn was restored to its formerly pristine condition. (Heizer realized an expanded version of the piece, Dragged Mass Geometric, fourteen years later at the Whitney Museum.)
Over the years, a handful of copies have surfaced of an initial, unrecorded and unpublished version of the catalogue for the exhibition, Photographic and Actual Works, with the original exhibition dates of February 23–April 4, 1971. This initial version is entirely photographic and contains no text, other than the title lines on the cover, and most likely represents complete control by Heizer of all the aspects of production; in contrast, the eventually published version (titled Actual Size, with dates of March 25–April 25) includes captions and other interpretive text. There is some overlap between the images used in the two versions, but even those images that appear in both versions are differently cropped or placed.
In effect, the unpublished version is an early and almost entirely unknown conceptual photographic artist’s book.
The only institutional holding on record of the early version is at the Getty Research Institute, though copies are also catalogued at the Center for Art & Environment of the Nevada Museum of Art; the librarians at the Detroit Institute of the Arts were unaware of its existence, and it is not to be found in their collection or archives.
The published version is scarce in commerce, and the unpublished version rare; to find them together is remarkable.