Posts Tagged ‘Larry Bell’
Frank Lloyd Gallery artists have been very busy, so here’s a round-up of their latest activities. To begin, Jennifer Lee has been invited to participate in the International Ceramic Festival in Sasama, Shizuoka, Japan. During the festival, November 22 – November 24, 2013, Lee will present a slide lecture and practical demonstration. Gustavo Pérez will join her at the festival, as he is also scheduled to speak to participants. In 2014, Lee will return to Japan for a two-month artist’s residency at the Shigaraki Ceramic Cultural Park.
An important work by Craig Kauffman is now on display at the Barbican Art Centre, as part of their exhibition Pop Art Design, which opened on October 22 and will run through February 9, 2014. I was fortunate enough to preview this show during my recent trip to London. Pop Art Design investigates the “exciting exchange of ideas between the fields of design and art” during the Pop Art movement.
Peter Voulkos is currently the subject of a one-man exhibition at the Franklin Parrasch Gallery titled Peter Voulkos: Works, 1956 – 1997. On view through November 23, 2013, this show features ten ceramic artworks drawn from distinct periods within the artist’s long career.
I am also pleased to announce that the Hetjens Museum in Dusseldorf, Germany, has acquired a recent sculpture by Wouter Dam. Founded in 1909, the Hetjens Museum is home to a collection of ceramic works from all over the world, spanning 8,000 years of ceramics history. Finally, The Harwood Museum of Art in Taos, New Mexico, recently announced a major gift of contemporary art by a private collector. The promised collection contains over 30 artworks by Larry Bell, including two examples of his most recent series, the “Light Knots.”
The gallery’s current exhibition, Translucence, will be on display through October 19th. It’s best to see it in person. Presenting works by Larry Bell, Robert Irwin, Craig Kauffman, Helen Pashgian, and DeWain Valentine, the show explores the perceptual effects these artists achieved through their use of mediums such as acrylic plastic, epoxy, cast resin, and glass.
We produced a video walk-through for Translucence, in case you won’t be able to make it to the gallery. Shot and edited by Oliver Bell, the video beautifully illustrates the atmospheric nature of the works.
I’m happy to announce that Larry Bell will be the subject of an upcoming solo exhibition at White Cube in London. On view from October 16th through December 22nd, the show is timed to coincide with the Frieze London Art Fair. Bell will be presenting recent works in the North Galleries, as well as in the central 9 x 9 x 9 meter exhibition space that the gallery is known for. This show will increase Bell’s already considerable presence in London – he currently has two cubes and a very early box on display in the Minimalism Gallery at the Tate Modern. A photograph from 1972 can also be seen in the Prints and Drawings Study at the Victoria and Albert Museum.
Another gallery artist, Wouter Dam, has been included in the group show In Dialogue with the Baroque at Schloss Schleissheim, near Munich, Germany. This exhibition presents contemporary artists in the context of the baroquely decorated Schleissheim Castle. The sinuous, curving lines of Dam’s ceramic sculptures recall the formal principles of baroque ornamentation, making his work a natural fit. In Dialogue with the Baroque opened on September 1st, and will be on display through October 13th.
Meanwhile, Gustavo Pérez’s international reputation continues to grow – he was included in Erskine, Hall & Coe’s Summer Show in London, and was featured in their earlier spring show, Classic and Contemporary. Pérez’s work will also be on display at the Galerie Capazza in Nançay, France, from October 5th – December 5th, 2013. This solo exhibition will include new works by the artist, who continues to pursue inventive methods of engaging with clay.
Scottish artist Jennifer Lee will open a self-titled solo show at Erskine, Hall & Coe on October 9th, which runs through November 1st. She was previously included in a group show alongside Pérez earlier this year titled Classic and Contemporary, also at Erskine, Hall & Coe. Lee’s work continues to evolve, her elegant vessels combining the geological power of nature with the beauty of human artifact.
Akio Takamori has had a busy summer, and he doesn’t seem to be slowing down for the fall season. Takamori recently opened a solo exhibition titled Portraits Ordinaires at the Musée Ariana in Geneva, Switzerland, which will remain up until October 27th. He will also be included in Body and Soul: New International Ceramics, a group show at the Museum of Arts and Design, on view September 24th, 2013 – March 2nd, 2014.
Scot Heywood will be the the subject of two complementary solo shows, both opening in October. The first of these, titled Scot Heywood: A Survey of Large Paintings, 2006-2013, will open at Santa Monica College’s Barrett Gallery on October 22nd. It will remain on display through December 7th. His second show this fall, organized in concert with the first, is called Scot Heywood: A Survey of Small Paintings, and it will be on view here at the Frank Lloyd Gallery from October 26th – November 30th.
The artists in our current show, Translucence, were all active in the 1960s. Their work is linked by their shared interest in transparency, light, reflection and the awareness of visual perception. Although they are frequently united under the label of Light and Space, and strongly associated with the late 1960s and early 1970s, it’s important to note how these artists’ work has evolved.
Our current show presents historical and contemporary examples of artwork. For instance, Larry Bell’s well-known form, the glass cube, is presented alongside work from his most recent series, the “Light Knots.” Working in diverse materials, Bell achieves complex visual effects through his use of thin film deposition – resulting in objects that absorb, transmit, and reflect light, thus calling into question the nature of the physical and visual spaces they inhabit.
Sensuous color characterizes Craig Kauffman’s practice, and plastic allowed him to expand on and enhance this sensibility. Suspended from the ceiling, Kauffman’s Untitled Loop from 1969 radiates luminous color, casting reflections on the surrounding walls. His more recent wall reliefs pulse with layers of iridescent paint, applied in thin layers to achieve a glowing, atmospheric quality.
Helen Pashgian’s work, like that of many of her contemporaries, used the new possibilities offered by industrial mediums to manipulate and explore visual and physical phenomena. Her practice constitutes an ongoing investigation into the interaction between light, color, and three-dimensional form. Like her historical spheres, Pashgian’s recent pieces explore the perceptual relationship between color and structure, blurring the borders between these principles. As the viewer moves around her work, colors and shapes advance and recede within each piece, creating an effect of instability.
As we start to install our next exhibition, titled Translucence, at the gallery, I am struck by its parallels with the Beyond Brancusi show currently on view at the Norton Simon Museum. I visited the NSM’s show in July, and really enjoyed its perspective on the influence of Constantin Brancusi on the following generations of 20th century sculptors.
I particularly remember the third room of the exhibit, which featured “a grouping of works by Southern California artists who introduced experimental materials and expanded the relationship between sculptural object and space even further.”1 This space features four of the five artists included in the gallery’s Translucence exhibition: Robert Irwin, Craig Kauffman, Helen Pashgian, and DeWain Valentine. A large cube by Larry Bell (our fifth artist) rests just beyond the doorway.
The works on display at the NSM, like those that will soon be up at the gallery, explore the qualities of light, color, reflection, and translucency. They play with our perception of sculptural space, complicating the subject/object relationship as they dissolve into the surrounding environment. Spatial relationships and perceptual phenomena are the primary focus of these works, and of Translucence as a show.
1 Beyond Brancusi: The Space of Sculpture, Press Release, The Norton Simon Museum, January 2013, http://www.nortonsimon.org/assets/Uploads/Beyond-Brancusi-Press-Release.pdf
I recently viewed the superb show “Beyond Brancusi” at the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena. It’s a very carefully selected show (just twenty works plus “Bird in Space” upstairs), entirely from the NSM holdings of modern art. There are three sections of the exhibit, demonstrating “…the transformative notion of space, and, secondarily, materials, that Brancusi presents.”
Entering the Norton Simon, one descends the center staircase to the basement, into the Special Exhibitions area. Part one includes nine works; Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore, and Isamu Noguchi (all marble) as well as Louise Nevelson, Gabriel Kohn, Charles Mattox and Guy Dill (wood and other materials). These sculptures set up the relationship to Brancusi in ways both direct (Hepworth and Moore) and tangential.
Relationship to sculptural volume and the use of larger masses in space abounds in the second room. The scale and industrial materials of Minimalism expand the exhibit in works by Donald Judd (two from Judd), Robert Morris (a felt piece), and John McCracken as well as Carl Andre’s modular floor piece and Larry Bell’s big dark cube. This is a compact view of the major power of the Minimal era.
It’s in room three where the show gets really interesting, as far as sculptural space is concerned. That’s because the work of Helen Pashgian, Robert Irwin, Craig Kauffman and DeWain Valentine present ways in which our perception of space is heightened or altered. The Robert Irwin disc—in aluminum sprayed with a luminous, magical shifting aura of pale color—is installed at the far end wall, framed by the room openings of the previous sections.
Back upstairs in the permanent collection, Brancusi’s “Bird in Space” is highly polished bronze, and the progenitor is “reflecting life itself” according to the artist. That might be a good way to view the whole show. Certainly, the emphasis on spatial relationships dominates, and the significance of materials or process is secondary in the show. It’s the work of Norton Simon Museum curator Leah Lehmbeck, and definitely something to see.
On May 18th, I hosted an artists’ conversation between Larry Bell and Peter Shelton at the gallery. It was one of our most well-attended events, with well over 50 people packing in to hear Larry and Peter discuss Larry’s exhibition. Larry Bell: Recent Work ran from May 4th – June 8th, and featured a series of mixed media collages as well as examples of Light Knots.
Larry and Peter’s discussion covered a lot of ground, but ultimately focused on how these new works are an extension of Larry’s life-long interest in perceptual phenomena. Larry emphasized the spontaneity and improvisational nature of the pieces on display, and how those qualities are of increasing interest to him.
If you weren’t able to come to the gallery and hear these artists in person, don’t worry! Larry’s son Oliver Bell filmed and edited two videos of the event. I’m posting one here, and they are both available on the Frank Lloyd Gallery Vimeo channel, along with other gallery-produced videos.
As the exhibition Ken Price Sculpture: A Retrospective makes its way to its third and final destination – The Metropolitan Museum of Art – I find myself reflecting on Ken Price’s history with the gallery. We’ve shown his work many times over the years, in both solo and group exhibitions. Looking back through our archives, it makes me happy to see the wide range of his works that we’ve presented.
I first had the pleasure of exhibiting Price’s work in 1998 in an exhibition titled John Mason, Ken Price, Peter Voulkos. The show included an Untitled Mound from 1959, a historic work that had been featured in the artist’s first solo show at the Ferus Gallery in 1960. A very similar piece was more recently on view at the Williamson Gallery at Scripps College for their 2012 exhibition Clay’s Tectonic Shift: John Mason, Ken Price, and Peter Voulkos, 1956-1968.
Since then, I’ve exhibited a diverse mix of Ken Price’s work, including a 1970s geometric cup, selections from his Happy’s Curios period, a series of plates from the 1990s, and his more recent, brilliantly colorful, biomorphic forms. In addition to an intimate survey of small ceramics, the gallery’s latest show of Price’s work displayed examples of his print-making activities, in the form of large lithographs and silkscreens.
I wanted to document the 2012 show in a more personal way, so I asked Larry Bell, a good friend and peer of Ken Price, to lead an exhibition walk-through of the show. I’ve posted this video before but think it’s worth repeating – Bell’s sincere and insightful commentary about the artist and his work is a pleasure to hear.
James Turrell’s retrospective exhibition opens next week at LACMA. There will be simultaneous installations at the Guggenheim and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and I just read a superb article published by the LA Times, written by Jori Finkel, about Turrell. All of the recent press about James Turrell’s three upcoming museum exhibitions, complemented by his concurrent solo show at the Kayne Griffin Corcoran Gallery, has me thinking about Light and Space artists. The term “Light and Space” is usually used to refer works made by a certain group of West Coast artists. I’m in agreement with Dawna Schuld, who wrote in 2011 that “while it is a useful and historically established label, “Light and Space” is also misleading in describing this art, because it overlooks the essential integrative ingredient, which is perception.”
Perceptual phenomena—especially visual phenomena—are the central focus of many Los Angeles artists’ work, rather than the material processes they use to achieve their goals. For example, I sometimes see writers link Larry Bell’s work in glass to the hot-rod car culture of Southern California. However, the obsession with perfect, gleaming surfaces relates only superficially to Larry’s interests. He never drove a hot-rod or participated in car culture, and was involved in the folk music movement of the late 50s, hardly a “slick” scene. But Larry was there at the leading edge of artists’ investigations into visual perception.
Some of the most interesting origins of the movement are experiments that Turrell and Robert Irwin participated in with the late Edward Wortz, who was then working at Garrett AiResearch in aerospace perceptual psychology. As cited in Lawrence Weschler’s book Seeing is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees, there was also a conference of architects and experts that was held in Venice in 1970, titled “The National Symposium on Habitability”. Larry Bell created two different rooms in his Market Street studio, which explored the concept of habitability. The first of these spaces was described by Wortz as “so oppressive that it was never used. People would just go in, turn around, and leave.” He constructed the second room with walls which were “angled in such a way as to render the space extremely reverberant, so that people kept having to scoot their chairs closer and closer in order to hear one another.” Bell also designed and installed the “Blue Room” (pictured on the right), which has been re-created for MOCA and for his survey show in Nîmes.
Stephanie Hanor did a great job describing the relationship between process and perception, writing in her 2011 essay that, “While the Los Angeles artists acknowledged the impact of location, their primary interests were the nature of perception and of the relationship between observer and observed, the subject and the object; their use of new industrial materials and processes was in service of investigating this dynamic.”
Larry’s work, like that of other artists who are often placed in the Light and Space movement, focuses on awareness of human perception. Whether he was creating the illusion of volume in paintings, constructing experimental environments, or using metallic particles to interfere with the passage of light through glass, Larry’s work defies our expectations. By asking viewers to reconsider what they’re looking at, his art creates a perceptual experience that allows us to see the work, and the world, in new ways.
 Schuld, Dawna. “Practically Nothing: Light, Space, and the Pragmatics of Phenomenology.” In Phenomenal: California Light, Space, Surface. (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2011), 109.
 Weschler, Lawrence, quoting Edward Wortz. Seeing is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees. (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1982), 132-133.
 Hanor, Stephanie. “The Material of Immateriality.” In Phenomenal: California Light, Space, Surface. (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2011), 128.
Today I am opening a new exhibition of recent works by Larry Bell at the gallery. The show includes 22 Small Figures, a luminously beautiful series of collage works as well as selected examples of Light Knots, a series of three-dimensional kinetic sculptures. These sculptures derive from Larry’s current collages, a kinship reflected in their shape and composition, as well as their materials.
Light Knots begin their lives as sheets of Mylar film, which Larry cuts, folds, and coats with vaporized metallic particles. Hung from the ceiling with monofilament, the nearly weightless works sway with the slightest air movement. Their iridescent layers shift and shimmer in the light, reflecting the surrounding environment. Like the collages, the appearance of the Light Knots shifts dramatically depending on the ambient light and the viewer’s position towards them.
According to Larry, “the colors you see are not pigments, they are what is known as interference color…the same as a little gas on a puddle of water at a filling station.” The surfaces of the Knots transmit, reflect, and absorb light, continuing the artist’s lifelong fascination with the nature of perception, and how to manipulate its properties.
Here’s a video filmed and produced by Ollie Bell, which really captures the beauty of the Light Knots.