Conservation & Preservation

Ugo Rondinone’s day-glo desert installation Seven Magic Mountains gets a fresh coat of paint

The popular public art work has been restored with the aim of keeping it Instagram-ready through 2021 or longer

Seven Magic Mountains by Ugo Rondinone Courtesy of the Nevada Museum of Art

Three years after its installation, the Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone’s fluorescent-painted monumental work in the Nevada desert, Seven Magic Mountains, has been revamped. The $3.5m outdoor installation, comprising seven 30ft to 35ft-tall limestone cairns situated in the desert between the small towns of Sloan and Jean, has drawn more than 1 million visitors since it opened in 2016.

The Nevada Museum of Art, which commissioned the work with the Art Production Fund, originally intended the immersive installation on federally managed land to be temporary. But its popularity has led the display to be extended through December 2021, with tentative plans to keep it up permanently.

However, the automotive paint used on the work has not held up well in Nevada’s extreme weather, including micro-sandblasting caused by constant winds and temperatures that often rise above 100 degrees Fahrenheit, a spokeswoman for the museum says. The paint has faded over time and the piece has faced some minor vandalism.

Over the past few weeks, public access to the site has been restricted while the artist has worked with restorers on-site to review the painting process and adjust the pigments used in hopes that the towering totems will retain their Instagrammable vibrancy over the next few years. The work, which references natural hoodoo rock formations in the desert, is due to reopen to the public on 20 June.