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Untitled (Wedge), 1981 – 1984

LAR RY BE L L


Larry Bell with Untitled (Wedge) in 1984, installed at GE Headquarters, Fairfield, CT


Untitled (Wedge), 1981-1984 installed at GE Headquarters, Fairfield, CT


Larry Bell, Untitled (Wedge), Sketch and Installation images from GE, Fairfield, CT


After many years in the studio I found that the light from the surface was my predominant media. The interface of light and surface – Larry Bell

Untitled (Wedge), 1981-1984 installed at Bell studio, Taos, NM


LARRY BELL Untitled (Wedge), 1981-1984 Glass double coated with Inconel, 8 units 69 x 166 x 42 inches 175.3 x 421.6 x 106.7 cm

Provenance Marian Goodman Gallery, New York General Electric, Fairfield, CT Anthony Meier Fine Arts, San Francisco


UNTITLED (WEDGE)

Throughout his career Larry Bell has made investigations into the properties of light on surface. By experimenting with the nature of surface and its relationship to space, Bell has devised a methodology characterized by spontaneity, intuition and improvisation. Bell began his career in 1959 and his earliest works consisted of abstract, monochrome paintings on paper and shaped canvases whose outlines corresponded to the silhouette of a box drawn in isometric projection. Panes of glass, then mirrors, were substituted for parts of the painted design and this exploration of spatial ambiguity eventually evolved into sculptural constructions made of wood and glass. These works represent the genesis of Bell’s later glass cubes and standing glass-panel wall sculptures. From 1963 onward, Bell began exploring the passing of light through his famous cube sculptures, deploying a technique of vacuum deposition whereby thin films of metal were added to the clear glass panels. Bell found that these glass cubes, presented on transparent pedestals, offered the viewer the essence of the captured light, becoming, in the process, tapestries of reflected, transmitted and absorbed light. Challenging notions of mass, volume and gravity in one single measure, the cubes appeared to float on the light between the floor and the work. In 1969, Bell commissioned his own vapor coating machine in an effort to push his practice: he exploded the fixed notion of the cube and broke it down into its component parts of right-angle corners and began to focus upon these in ever-increasing complexity. By the 1970’s Bell began creating sculptural installations with large sheets of glass that were rendered partly mirrored and partly transparent through the vacuum deposition procedure, thereby making the glass surfaces almost disappear and volumes become weightless.  

Untitled (Wedge), 1981, is the pinnacle of Bell’s investigations with coated glass free-standing walls; after 1983 Bell switched to industrially produced colored glass for his major commissions and museum projects. In Untitled (Wedge)’s lyricism and simplicity, the two trapezoids – one installed in the interior and one on the exterior of a glass atrium – the work is the most complete and fully realized of Bell’s projects, and has remained in situ the longest. Untitled (Wedge) serves as an agent for the dematerialization of the object. With the altered density of the metallic coating, which at once appears to be a perfect mirror but soon reveals a more varied surface, Bell manipulated the glass to assume varying degrees of reflection, transparency and opacity. The viewer’s image appears, disappears and multiplies, opening up space where the viewer is completely implicated in and activated by the work. Originally commissioned in 1981 by the GE corporation for their global headquarters in Fairfield, CT, Untitled (Wedge) was completed in 1984 and remained on site until the headquarters’ closing in 2016. In that 30 year time span, all but one of Bell’s outdoor projects were either deinstalled or inadvertently destroyed leaving Untitled (Wedge) as a rare and solitary example of Bell’s ability to master his craft out of doors and at epic scale.


EARLY STANDING WALLS AND COMPARABLE WORKS a

Untitled, 1971, Coated glass, 2 panels, each 108 x 60 x 3/8 inches Collection of Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, California a

b

Untitled, 1972, Coated glass, 10 units 72 x 213 x 63 inches overall, Collection of the Tate Modern, London

c

The Iceberg and It’s Shadow, 1975 Inconel glass, 56 units Overall installation dimensions variable Collection of MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge, MA

b

c

d d

The Cat, Part IV, 1981,

e

The Wind Wedge, 1982,

Coated glass, 12 units,

Coated glass, 14 units

4 panels, 72 x 96 inches,

Overall installation

8 panels, 72 x 82 inches

dimensions variable

Installation image

Commissioned by

Newport Beach, CA

the City of Abilene, Texas for their Zoological Gardens

e

(now destroyed)


BIOGRAPHY

Larry Bell was born in 1939 in Chicago IL, and lives and works between Taos NM and Venice CA. Bell attended Chouinard Art School in Los Angeles from 1957 to 1959 where he studied under Robert Irwin. Notable solo exhibitions include: the Pasadena Art Museum, Pasadena CA, 1972; Fort Worth Art Museum, Dallas TX, 1975 and 1977; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles CA, 1986; Denver Art Museum, Denver CO, 1995; Carré d’Art Musée d’art Contemporain de Nîmes, Nîmes, France, 2011, and The Chinati Foundation, Marfa TX, 2014. Seminal group exhibitions include: ‘The Responsive Eye’, Museum of Modern Art, New York NY, 1965; ‘Primary Structures’, The Jewish Museum, New York NY, 1966; ‘Larry Bell, Robert Irwin, Doug Wheeler’, Tate Britain, London, England, 1970; ‘11 Los Angeles Artists’, Hayward Gallery, London, England, 1971; ‘Phenomenal’, Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, San Diego CA, 2011 and ‘Whitney Biennial 2017’ , Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY.

Bell’s work is held in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York NY; The Albright- Knox Gallery, Buffalo TX; Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago IL; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York NY; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles CA; Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge MA; Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Germany; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco CA; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands; Tate, London, England; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis MN, and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York NY among others.



AMFA Larry Bell at ADAA 2017