Larry Bell is Everywhere, Part II
On a recent rainy day, I looked down at the street to see something that looked like a Larry Bell. We’ve all had the experience of seeing a rainbow on the pavement, maybe at a gas station, where gasoline has spilled. But now I am much more tuned in to the spectrum of light, knowing Larry’s work. Plus, I’ve learned about light as it is reflected from glass, metal, and most everything in our visible world. The rainy day color was phenomenal, as it is bounced from a thin film of gasoline over water.
I came back to the gallery and read some more entries in an old catalogue. The book I found accompanied the exhibit of Bell’s work at the Hudson River Museum in 1981. There were quotes that stood out for me, a couple from the late American poet Robert Creely’s introduction, and another from the artist. Creely starts by noting that Bell’s art “particularly provokes a daily, persistent accommodation of interest, much as a changing sky or river will.”
“The glass sculptures have to reflect ambient light for the color and the feeling of the surface to come out. But the paper is highly absorbent of light, so it actually contains its own ambient light. I put the same deposits down on the paper that I put on the glass, but they did something completely different, simply because the paper contains the light. That was an astonishing revelation to me, that the surface quality is a deciding factor in the interaction of light with that surface.”