Dia is presenting a new display of sculpture by Larry Bell opening at Dia Beacon
. Since the early 1960s Bell has explored the interplay between light, color, and volume through the medium of glass. As a leading figure of Southern Californias Light and Space movement, Bell has used new materials and techniques to investigate how the perceptual experience of a sculpture in its environment unfolds for the spectator.
Seen in these naturally litgalleries designed by Bells friend and contemporary in Los Angeles, Robert Irwin, these sculptures offer insight into Bells unique and groundbreaking understanding of the potential of glass as a medium, said Jessica Morgan, Dias Nathalie de Gunzburg Director. We also see the arc of his practice, from some of his earliest works utilizing cutting-edge technology in the 1960s to his expansive exploration of color today.
Bells earliest sculptures were simple geometric objects placed flush to the edge of clear acrylic pedestals that gave them the appearance of floating in space. Made of translucent colored glass, these relatively small cubes surfaces were often marked with geometric or elliptical patterns that framed space and filtered light dynamically. As Bell experimented with increasing the size of these cubic volumes, his attention shifted to how color appears most concentrated along their edges and corners. In a step crucial to this development, in 1965 he purchased a vacuum coating chamber that allowed him to animate large glass surfaces with metallic particles. Standing Walls (1968), one of the artists first freestanding sculptures, isolates and magnifies the corner effect through its composition of large alternating panels of clear and gray glass placed at right angles to form a zigzagging structure that viewers can fully move around.
This exhibition brings together a focused selection of key early sculptures alongside a work newly conceived for Dia Beacon, Duo Nesting Boxes (2021). This diptych combines the open-form autonomy of Bells standing walls with the geometry of his signature cubes. Bells Duo Nesting Boxes enfolds enlarged cubes within standing walls, creating a perceptually enveloping effect of richly saturated blues and greens, resulting from the physical layering of colors in space.
Over the course of his five-decade-long career, Larry Bell has continuously expanded upon the possibilities of glass as a medium. The works on view at Dia Beacon highlight his forays into the limits of perception, as the glass reflects and absorbs light, drawing in the viewer with richly saturated color, said Alexis Lowry, curator.