Larry Bell’s longstanding interest in glass and its liquid yet solid quality forms the principal theme of his artwork throughout his artistic career. Bell describes glass as a unique material characterized by three characteristics: it reflects, transmits, and absorbs light all at the same time. These features, as well as, its affordability and availability, makes glass a perfect material for experimenting and exploring the relationship between surface and light. In his early glass cube work, Bell overlaid geometric shapes onto the glass. Later, in his pursuit to preserve the minimal and pure quality of the material, he shifted to adding only a sheer coating onto the surface of the glass in order to experiment with the various reflection of light.
Bell used a technique called vacuum deposition to add a thin layer of metallic or nonmetallic substance to his glass cubes to generate unique surfaces that would reflect light in various wavelengths and colors. Vaporized quartz applied on the inside of the glass of Untitled creates an effect like that of gasoline in a puddle of water, when a light goes through the surface. Bell uses Plexiglas (transparent acrylic plastic often used in place of glass), for the sculpture’s pedestal to let the light transmit through the cubical monument, which permits complete visibility of the cube, while also supporting the fragile and heavy material. The symmetry, minimalism, and purity of form of the shape of the cubes supports the creation of various reflections on glass, made possible by thin films of substance adhered using this unconventional technique for an artist.
Artist: Larry Bell
Medium: Glass and stainless steel on Plexiglas base
Type: Light and Space
Dimension: 60 1/4 x 20 1/4 x 20 1/4 in. (153.04 x 51.44 x 51.44 cm)
Collection: The Buck Collection at the UCI Institute and Museum for California Art
Copyright: ©2018 Larry Bell / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York