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The Deiro Collection


Summary Note

The Deiro Collection contains materials related to Michael Heizer, Walter De Maria, and Charles Ross, collected by Count Guido Roberto Deiro, pilot and project consultant.

Biographical Note

Count Guido Roberto Deiro grew up in Las Vegas, worked on a ranch and then in casinos as a young man, and became an Airline Transport Rated pilot. He was hired by Howard Hughes first as an administrative assistant and was working at Hughes Aviation as Director of Aviation Facilities in Las Vegas when he met Michael Heizer in late 1968/early 1969. The artist hired him to scout locations for Double Negative and then the City project; Heizer was joined by Walter De Maria and Charles Ross, who also worked with Deiro to scout property for their own projects, including De Maria’s The Lightning Field.

Deiro’s employment with Hughes gave him access to aircraft, vehicles, photographic equipment, and free time to work with the artists. By 1972 he was devoting all his time to assisting Heizer and De Maria to secure property and water rights at their desert locations, and leasing and buying the requisite heavy equipment for Heizer’s work in Garden Valley, Nevada. In 1974 Deiro cut back to flying occasionally for Heizer and De Maria and went back to work as a shift supervisor at a Las Vegas casino. He later started a real estate auction company, which enabled him to help Heizer obtain additional property in Garden Valley during the 1990s. Deiro was appointed to several state committees, including the State Advisory Board for Ground Water Management, the Nevada Nuclear Waste Study Committee, and the board of the Nevada Arts Council. In 2013 he helped Ugo Rondinone select a site for the Seven Magic Mountains sculpture, which was commissioned by the Nevada Museum of Art and Art Production Fund in New York City. It was installed on the edge of Jean Dry Lake, where Deiro had seen his first Heizer earthwork in 1968.

Scope and Content

Count Guido Roberto Deiro, a pilot and head of aviation for Howard Hughes in Las Vegas, Nevada, was hired first in the late 1960s by artist Michael Heizer, then soon thereafter by Walter De Maria, to scout for large tracks of empty land for Land Art projects. He continued to work with them to locate and facilitate the purchase of land for their most important works, including Heizer's City project and De Maria's The Lightning Field.

His collection of materials related to the two artists, and a third artist named Charles Ross, donated in January 2009, provides a very rare look into the early careers of the three artists. Materials include what Deiro identifies as the first sketch of The Lightning Field by De Maria, the first engineering drawing done by Heizer for Complex One of City, and other early sketches, correspondence and legal documents related to land purchases, equipment bids, contracts, posters, photographs, 35mm slides, maps, exhibition ephemera, and press materials.


The Deiro Collection is organized into four series: Materials about the archive creator Count Guido Roberto Deiro, and a series for each of the artists he worked with.
  • Series 1: Count Guido Roberto Deiro
  • Series 2: Michael Heizer
  • Series 3: Walter De Maria
  • Series 4: Charles Ross

Inclusive Dates


Quantity / Extent

2.5 cubic feet


English, Italian

Related Archive Collections

  • CAE0902: Land Arts of the American West
  • CAE0909: Arcy Douglass Land Arts Investigations and Writing
  • CAE1111: William L. Fox: Michael Heizer
  • CAE1212: 871 Fine Arts: Land Arts Ephemera
  • CAE1509: Charles Ross
  • CAE1606: Randolph Sims: Paintings and Land Arts Projects

Related Publications

Baker, Kenneth. The Lightning Field. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2008.

Beacham, Jon, and Michael Heizer. Coyotes, Silver Slippers, Pumas, Mesquite ... and Word List Extracted & Edited: Selective List of Uses for Welding Electrodes: Michael Heizer. Tivoli, NY: The Brother In Elysium, 2015.

Camfield, William A. Michael Heizer: 45°, 90°, 180°: A Sculpture for Rice University. Houston, TX: Rice University, Farish Gallery, School of Architecture, 1985.

Celant, Germano. Michael Heizer. Milan, Italy: Fondazione Prada, 1997.

De Maria, Walter. 1999 Milano 2000. Milan Italy: Fondazione Prada, 1999.

De Maria, Walter. Seen/Unseen, Known, Unknown. Okayama City, Japan: Naoshima Contemporary Art Museum, 2002.

De Maria, Walter. Skulpturen. Basel, Switzerland: Öffentliche Basel, 1972.

De Maria, Walter. Trilogies. Houston, TX: Menil Collection, 2011.

Deiro, Guido Roberto and David G. Schwartz. Count Guido Roberto Deiro: My Varied Careers and Rewarding Life in Las Vegas. Las Vegas, NV: University of Nevada, Las Vegas, 2018.

Deiro, Guido Roberto. Mae West and the Count: Love and Loss on the Vaudeville Stage. Denver, CO: Outskirts Press, 2019.

Durham Press. Michael Heizer, Tom Slaughter, Ray Charles White, Scott Kilgour, John Giorno, Robert Harms, Daniel Villeneuve, Beatriz Milhazes. Durham, Pa: Durham Press, 1996.

Felix, Zdenek. Michael Heizer. Essen, Germany, Otterlo, Netherlands: Museum Folkwang; Rijksmuseum Kröller-Müller, 1979.

Fox, William L., Michael Heizer: The Once and Future Monuments. New York, NY: The Monacelli Press, 2019.

Fox, William L., The Void, the Grid & the Sign. Salt Lake City, UT: University of Utah Press, 2000.

Gorgoni, Gianfranco. The New Avant-Garde: Issues for the Art of the Seventies. New York, NY: Praeger, 1972.

Hedger, Michael Albert. Larger than Life: Size, Scale and the Imaginary in the Work of Land Artists Michael Heizer, Walter De Maria and Dennis Oppenheim. Sidney, N.S.W.: University of New South Wales. Art & Design, 2014.

Heizer, Michael. Michael Heizer. Innsbruck, Austria: Galerie im Taxispalais, 1977.

Heizer, Michael. Michael Heizer. London, England: Waddington Galleries, 1990

Heizer, Michael. Michael Heizer: Actual Size. Detroit, MI: Detroit Institute of the Arts, 1971.

Heizer, Michael. Michael Heizer: Double Negative. New York, NY, Los Angeles, CA: Rizzoli; Museum of Contemporary Art, 1991.

Heizer, Michael. Michael Heizer: New Sculpture. New York, NY: M. Knoedler & Co., 1988.

Heizer, Michael. Michael Heizer: New Sculpture. Tokyo, Japan: Akira Ikeda Gallery, 1998.

Heizer, Michael. Michael Heizer: Photographic and Actual Works. Detroit, MI: Detroit Institute of the Arts, 1971.

Heizer, Michael. Michael Heizer: Sculpture in Reverse. Los Angeles CA: Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, 1984.

Heizer, Michael. Michael Heizer—Dragged Mass Geometric. New York, NY: Whitney Museum of American Art, 1985.

Kimmelman, Michael. The Accidental Masterpiece: On the Art of Life and Vice Versa. New York, NY: Penguin Press, 2005.

Levitated Mass: The Story of Michael Heizer’s Monolithic Sculpture. Directed by Doug Pray. New York, NY: First Run Features, 2014. DVD.

Lewis, David P. The Size of City: Michael Heizer’s Masterpiece as Architecture. Cardiff, Wales: Dissertation, Cardiff University, 2010.

McGill, Douglas C. Michael Heizer: Effigy Tumuli: The Reemergence of Ancient Mound Building. New York, NY: H.N. Abrams, 1990.

Ross, Charles. Charles Ross: The Substance of Light. Santa Fe, NM: Radius Books, 2012.

Vander Weg, Kara. Ed., Michael Heizer: Alters. New York, NY: Gagosian Gallery, 2016.

Container Listing by Series:

CAE0901/1 Series 1: Count Guido Roberto Deiro, 1965-2016

Series 1 contains materials related to Count Guido Roberto Deiro.
  • CAE Box 33

    • 1-1 Personal Ephemera & Correspondence, 1965-2016
    • 1-2 Personal Images, 1974-2007
    • 1-3 Land Art Presentation (photographs), 1967-1974
    • 1-4 Land Art Presentation (slides), 1970-1974
    • 1-5 Interviews, 2008-2016
    • 1-6 White River Narrows Trip with Heizer & De Maria, 2/1974
    • 1-7 Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art Trip with Heizer, 1976
    • 1-8 Press Materials, 1971-2015

Additional Materials

  • CAE Box 251 Large Objects

    • 1-1#1 Deiro's datebook of appointments and addresses for the year 1974
  • CAE S-Box 9

    • 1-2#1 Photograph of Count Guido Roberto Deiro, not dated
    • 1-8#1 Esquire, May 1971
    • 1-8#2 ARTnews, 1971
    • 1-8#3 Arts Magazine, 1972
    • 1-8#7 Arts Magazine, 1974
    • 1-8#11 New York Times, February 6, 2005
  • CAE Stand-Alone Box

    • 1-1#22 Stetson Open Road Cowboy Hat, 1995

CAE0901/2 Series 2: Michael Heizer, Original Date 1935-2016

Series 2 contains items relating to Michael Heizer.
  • CAE Box 33

    • 2-1 Michael Heizer Related Ephemera, 1970-2009
    • 2-2 CIVA Corporation, 1974
    • 2-3 Water Rights, Garden Valley, 1970-2001
    • 2-4 Additional Land Acquisition, Garden Valley and Coal Valley, 1992-1998
    • 2-5 Garden Valley Images, 1988
    • 2-6 Coal Valley Images, 1972
    • 2-7 Rift, 1970
    • 2-8 Double Negative, 1970-2010
    • 2-9 Vertical Displacement (unrealized), 1972
    • 2-10 City, 1972-2016
    • 2-11 J.F.K. 6.5 Sculpture, 1967-1981
    • 2-12 Perforated Object, 1993-1996
    • 2-13 Works on Paper, 1984-1988
    • 2-14 Exhibition Invitations & Announcements, 1972-2008
    • 2-15 Ramona, California, Trip, 1971

Additional Materials

  • Archive Bin 1

    • 2-13#1 June 12, Poster, 1982
  • Archive Bin 3

    • 2-6#21 Coal Valley Nevada 12/72, Panoramic photograph on paper, 1972
    • 2-8#1 Double Negative, 1,100' x 42' x 30', 40,000 Tons Displacement, Poster, 1970
    • 2-13#3 Michael Heizer Geometric Extraction, Poster, 1984
    • 2-13#4 Michael Heizer Dragged Mass Geometric, Poster, 1985
    • 2-13#5 Michael Heizer Geometric Platform, Poster, 1988
    • 2-13#6 Michael Heizer 45°, 90° ,180° Geometric, Poster, 1987
    • 2-14#1 Michael Heizer Photographic and Actual Work, Poster, 1972
  • CAE Box 14 Tray 1 Small Objects

    • 2-2#4 Civa Corp Pocket Ink Stamp, 1974
    • 2-11#1 Kennedy Half Dollar for JFK 6.5, 1967
  • CAE Box 251 Large Objects

    • 2-2#1 CIVA CORP, Hard Hat 1974
    • 2-2#2 CIVA CORP, Handled Stamp, 1974 – dimensions = 3”h x 4”w x 1”d
    • 2-2#3 Inkpad used by Civa Corp, 1974 – need dimensions = 4 ½” x 3 ¼” x ½”
    • 2-10#2 Initial Survey Stake from Complex One, 1972
  • CAE Flat File F3 Oversized Items

    • 2-4#28 US Geological Survey topographical map with Garden Valley marked, 1970
    • 2-4#29 Timber Mountain, Nevada, Bureau of Land Management Map, 1972
    • 2-9#71 Image of Vertical Displacement (unrealized) (1 of 3), not dated
    • 2-9#72 Image of Vertical Displacement (unrealized) (2 of 3), not dated
    • 2-9#73 Image of Vertical Displacement (unrealized) (3 of 3), not dated
    • 2-10#1a-f Complex I of The City, S1, (1 Original, 5 Copies), Blueline print, 1974
    • 2-10#2a-f Complex I of The City, S2, (1 Original, 5 Copies), Blueline print, 1974
    • 2-10#3 Technical drawing for "Complex I of The City", 1974
  • CAE Flat File F25 Oversized Items

    • 2-9#8 Topographical Map for Vertical Displacement (unrealized), 1972
    • 2-9#9 Anaconda Pintler Wilderness, Map, 1972
    • 2-10#36 The City, Photograph, 2016
  • CAE S-Box 9

    • 2-2#5a CIVA Corporation, Guido Roberto Deiro and Michael Heizer, Photograph, 1974
    • 2-2#5b CIVA Corporation, Guido Roberto Deiro and Michael Heizer, Photograph, 1974
    • 2-8#22b Double Negative (3), Photograph, 1990
    • 2-8#24b Double Negative (5), Photograph, 1990
    • 2-8#26b Double Negative (7), Photograph, 1990
  • CAE Tube Rack Oversized Items

    • 2-10#27 Complex One/City 140 x 120 x 23 1/2' Cement Steel Earth, Poster, c. 1975

CAE0901/3 Series 3: Walter De Maria, 1972-1980

Series 3 contains items related to Walter De Maria.
  • CAE Box 33

    • 3-1 Lightning Field, 1972-1980
    • 3-2 Munich Mountain (unrealized), 1972-1975
    • 3-3 Las Vegas Piece Images, 1974
    • 3-4 Desert Scouting Trip, 1972-1974

Additional Materials

  • CAE Flat File F25 Oversized Items

    • 3-2#9 Mobile Oil Corp Auto Map of Arizona and New Mexico, 1972
  • CAE S-Box 11

    • 3-1#1a Lightning Field Concept Sketch, 1972 - 1974
    • 3-2#7 Munich Mountain Sketches on Stardust Hotel Placemat, 1972
    • 3-2#8 Munich Mountain Notes on Stardust Hotel Placemat, 1972

CAE0901/4 Series 4: Charles Ross, 1967-1973

Series 4 contains items related to artworks by Charles Ross including maps, photographs, and correspondence.
  • CAE Box 33

    • 4-1 Light Works, 1967-1973
    • 4-2 Solar Center (unrealized), 1970-1973

Additional Materials

  • CAE Flat File F3 Oversized Items

    • 4-2#10a Map of Southwest Utah with notes and sites circled, Map, c. 1970
    • 4-2#11a Map of West Central Utah, Fillmore District, Map, 1970
  • CAE Flat File F25 Oversized Items

    • 4-2#8 Map of Utah with handwritten notes, 1970
    • 4-2#9 Touraide Map of Utah, c. 1970