Half an hour outside Las Vegas, seven striking cairns in a neat row rise 30 feet from the desert floor. In form, these structures resemble hoodoos—tall and spindly natural rock formations commonly seen in the western United States—but if their isolated placement doesn’t signal artificial origins, their intense color erases any doubt. Against the muted backdrop of nearby Jean Dry Lake, known for other land art interventions, Ugo Rondinone’s Seven Magic Mountains evokes the meditative mindset of rock balancing, while the site of the vibrant towers amplifies their meaning.

Given that the nearby neon lights of Vegas are likely to be in the mental periphery of any passersby, the sculptures also suggest the fragile balance between urban and rural, natural and unnatural. Rondinone describes his sculpture as existing in “the contrary air between the desert and the city lights.”

Five years in the making and one of the larger land art works installed in the United States for several decades, Seven Magic Mountains was produced by the Art Production Fund (New York) and the Nevada Museum of Art (Reno).

UPDATE: Originally slated to remain on view for two years—May 2016 to May 2018—due to the installation’s success and the artist’s desire for a longer term, the artwork will now remain on view through May of 2027, and possibly longer.

Jen Dolen is a photographer and is on the editorial team for Public Art Review.