If you’re in Las Vegas, Nevada, and want to see something other than a fake Statue of Liberty or the inside of a casino, drive ten miles south to visit Ugo Rondinone’s public art exhibit of Seven Magic Mountains. The exhibit launched in May 2016 and will only be up for two years, so start planning your detours from your bachelor/bachelorette parties and corporate conferences now.
Ugo Rondinone, a Swiss artist, is the same dude responsible for the temporary public art exhibit outside of Rockefeller Center a few years back (pictured in a blur below, with a blurry me). To say this guy has a theme is putting it lightly.
Seven Magic Mountains was the first stop my family and I made on our Southwest trip this fall. I’d seen a friend post a picture of it and sent the screenshot to my sister to research, since I was too focused on Myanmar and India to help out with this trip. Katie runs a tight ship when travel planning so I was happy that she accepted my only non-food-related suggestion.
Simply put, Seven Magic Mountains is an Instagrammer’s dream. Seven giant towers of boulders of vibrant colors contrast against the gray mountains, the beige desert, and the bright blue skies. I’d imagine, like most scenes, the light would be best around sunrise and sunset, but we had a gorgeous sunny early afternoon which made for some good shots as well. We weren’t the only people there of course, but it wasn’t as crowded as what we encountered elsewhere along the ride.
Rondinone’s intent was for the Seven Magic Mountains to allow people to “contemplate the desert space and its history of human intervention”. He created his towers of boulders to mirror the natural hoodoo stone formations that you see elsewhere in the Southwest (most prominently on our trip at Bryce Canyon), but didn’t want them to blend in with the surroundings. Rondinone noted that when two things are in such contrast to each other, they make each other stand out more, so his hope is that the brightly colored boulders will help the natural landscape be appreciated more as well.¹
After living in NYC for so long, I’ve come to appreciate “wide, open spaces,” and even moreso if there’s something in the foreground for me to focus on. Seven Magic Mountains reminded me of something you’d see at Storm King Art Center, a giant art installation center an hour north of Manhattan, that you should also check out, if in the area.
Even if these rocks were as fake as some of what can be found 10 miles north in Vegas, jumping in front of Seven Magic Mountains was the perfect way to kick off our trip of Seven Magic Days.