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Dead artist responsible for Utah desert monolith, claims gallery owner

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

A bizarre four-metre high metal block found in the isolated wilderness of the Utah desert is the work of a dead sculpture artist, his former agent believes.

A bizarre four-metre high metal block found in the isolated wilderness of the Utah desert is the work of a dead sculpture artist, his former agent believes.

Officials from the Utah Department of Public Safety Aero Bureau stumbled upon the shiny monolith on November 18 while conducting a survey on big horn sheep.

The object has no signifying marks but appears to have been bolted to the ground with "human-made rivets".

The monolith has been likened to the mysterious object in 2001: A Space Odyssey, but a German gallery owner thinks otherwise.

David Zwirner is convinced the monolith is the work of minimalist sculptor John McCracken, who he represented.

"The gallery is divided on this," Mr Zwirner said in a statement.

"I believe this is definitely by John."

The mystery slab was spotted from a helicopter crew surveying bighorn sheep.

The problem is, Mr McCracken died nine years ago.

Mr McCracken's signature work consisted largely of narrow, monochromatic planks and slabs, similar to the Utah desert monolith.

The question is whether Mr McCracken went to the effort of installing such a massive slab in the middle of nowhere, and never told anybody.

It would also mean the monolith would have gone unnoticed for at least nine years.

The iconic monolith as it featured in 1968's 2001: A Space Odyssey.

The monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey was often mis-attributed to Mr McCracken, though he did bear a fascination with the other-worldly.

"Even before I did concerted studies of UFOs, it helped me maintain my focus to think I was trying to do the kind of work that could have been brought here by a UFO."

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One of his sculptures, a fire-engine red plank made of polyester resin, fibreglass and plywood, sold for nearly A$400,000 at auction in 2010.

John McCracken's artworks consisted largely of large monochromatic slabs.

He died in 2011 at the age of 76.

Mr Zwirner has already drawn a parallel to another of Mr McCracken's installations in their New York gallery.

"The portal to Utah is at David Zwirner 20th Street," the gallery posted on Instagram.

Another metal sculptor based in nearby Salt Lake City, Dan Toone, has denied any connection to the object.

The Utah Bureau of Land Management issued a tongue-in-cheek statement after the discovery of the monolith.

"Although we can't comment on active investigations, the Bureau of Land Management would like to remind public land visitors that using, occupying, or developing the public lands or their resources without a required authorisation is illegal, no matter what planet you are from," the statement read.

Utah authorities have not yet disclosed the location of the mystery object.

The mystery slab is about four metres high and has no distinguishing marks.

"The exact location of the installation is not being disclosed since it is in a very remote area and if individuals were to attempt to visit the area, there is a significant possibility they may become stranded and require rescue," the Department of Public Safety said in a statement.

"We are encouraging anyone who knows the location of the monolith to not attempt to visit it due to road conditions."

While the discovery has raised more questions than answers, officials say they are pleased with the result of the intended survey. The bighorn sheep population in the area is doing well.


Source: 9News

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