Larry Bell rose to prominence as a leading member of the California Light and Space Movement of the 1960s and 1970s. A pioneer in his approach to the surface treatment of glass and a master of unprecedented explorations of light, reflection, and shadow, Bell has documented perceptual phenomena through a tirelessly inventive sculptural practice.
Bell has quarantined in his home and studio in Taos, where the vivid and striking natural light of the mesa provides endless inspiration for new works. Throughout this time Bell continues to experiment, and his recent ‘Triolith’ works exemplify new coating techniques that have been achieved with his vacuum coating chamber. Related to his architecturally- scaled ‘Standing Walls’ series, these works illuminate the artist’s process as he mediates on scale and offers the possibility of translating to larger sculptural works in brighter days.
Made in 1965, ‘Black Chrome Ellipse’ is a smoky-coloured, 8-inch glass cube with a metal frame around its edges, a compelling exploration of Bell’s unique material and attempt to manipulate the effects of light on glass. Each of the six sides contain an elliptical pattern inscribed within a square. Relatively transparent, the surfaces of the work permit viewing the shapes on several sides of the cube simultaneously. As one changes vantage point, the forms overlap and intersect with one another, activating and animating the freestanding sculpture — the viewer thus becomes both a participant and observer of its changing composition.
The sculpture engages its surrounding environment with opulent light – interacting with materiality and space in an exchange of energy that advances beyond its form. Here, the ethereal beauty of Bell’s nuanced vision transpires from an aesthetic language giving way to the spontaneous play of light and its infinite perceptual possibilities.
Larry Bell is one of the most renowned and influential artists to emerge from the Los Angeles art scene of the 1960s, alongside contemporaries Ed Ruscha and Robert Irwin, and had garnered international repute by the age of 30. Known foremost for his refined surface treatment of glass and explorations of light, reflection and shadow through the material, Bell’s significant oeuvre extends from painting and works on paper to glass sculptures and furniture design.