Larry Bell in London
This morning I had breakfast with Larry Bell, and we began talking about London. Bell has had several shows in London, including a group show at the Hayward Gallery in 1971 titled “11 Los Angeles Artists”, curated by Maurice Tuchman for the Arts Council of Great Britain. That exhibit was an eclectic mix, ranging from John Altoon to William Wegman and from Ken Price to Bruce Nauman and Richard Diebenkorn. Bell exhibited three thin, coated glass shelves, illuminated by light that cast a colored shadow on the wall, above and below. Bell was working with large-scale environmental installations of glass, and also made a multi-panel piece for that show, consisting of nine units of standing coated glass, each six feet high by five feet wide.
One year before, in 1970, the Tate Modern mounted a prescient exhibition of three Light and Space artists, simply titled “Larry Bell, Robert Irwin, Doug Wheeler,” and organized by Michael Compton. As was noted in both exhibitions, Larry Bell’s work deals with the properties of light, and the large installations used the material of glass to reflect, transmit, and absorb light. While it is true that he had been associated with minimalism and with primary geometric form, the large-scale environments led viewers into a new perceptual awareness of transparency, light and reflection.
The Tate Modern collection includes six Larry Bell works, and this morning I learned that three of those are now on view. Since I’ve been writing about the gallery’s artists in museum collections, this news came as an opportunity for the blog. I’ll be showing new work by Bell in early May. This show will be all new work, from a series of collages and vapor drawings that exploit the brilliant reflective properties of materials made with Bell’s process of thin film deposition of metallic particles. For those who would like to learn more about Bell’s work, last year’s in-depth interview by Tyler Green on Modern Art Notes is a superb way to pick up Bell’s history as a podcast. But don’t miss the large group of photos on the MAN blog and the link to Ollie Bell’s video of the Larry Bell survey in Nimes, “In Perspective.”