The contemporary American artist most often associated with California’s Light and Space movement and New York Minimalism, Larry Bell, returns to the city in Larry Bell. From the ’60s,a solo exhibition at Hauser & Wirth. On view from February 3 until April 9, the show focuses on Bell’s (third picture) innovative approaches to sculpture, perceptual phenomena and light, as well as on his early geometric paintings and forms on canvas.
Spread through the gallery’s East 69th Street townhouse are works for sale (from $40,000 to $1.5M), beginning with a look at paintings and constructions that explore Bell’s experimentation with surface treatments and three-dimensional objects. Lil’ Orphan Annie (1960) – a vibrantly coloured series of polygons – is a work that marks, says Bell, “the point at which I became a sculptor”. Ghost Box (1962-1963, second picture) is one of his earliest constructions, using vacuum-coated glass enhanced by metallic particles, which lends it a surreal, ethereal quality.
Standing Walls (1968), which takes centre stage on the gallery’s second floor, marks a major shift, with cubes and a series of 8ft-high freestanding glass panels in beautiful chromatic gradations that vary from pewter to smoke to ash – depending on the viewer’s position. Glacier (1999, first picture) is another standing glass sculpture – in undulating rose-tinted, azure, grey and clear layers. Other highlights include Untitled (1968-1970) – prism shelves enhanced by delicate metallic film – and Moving Ways (1975), a nine-part work on paper, with thin layers of aluminum and quartz applied to dazzling effect. Major glass installations from the 1980s and 1990s dominate the third floor, including Bell’s Made for Arolsen 1 (1992) and Untitled Trapezoid Improvisation (1983).
This luminescent exhibition offers an opportunity to see many of Bell’s formative works in a spare, serene setting – one that is perfectly suited to explorations of light and surface.