Acclaimed American artist Larry Bell has used glass as the primary material for his minimalist sculptures for nearly 60 years. A pioneer in the California Light and Space movement, Bell started out as a painter but changed direction after an early encounter with a cracked piece of sheet glass introduced him to the material’s special qualities. “The one break in the glass,” he explained, “created three lines—one a reflection from the break, one the shadow of the break, and the break itself.” Entranced, he continued experimenting with sheet glass, and soon his sculptures were made almost entirely of glass.
For most of his career, Bell was especially interested in the precise and beguiling ways in which the surface of glass reflects light. In the last few years, however, he has extended his interest to the way mass and diffuse color operate alongside surface to shift viewers’ perceptions of an interior form. In VFZ 1, recently added to the Museum’s collection, large-scale sheets of glass are laminated around colored cores of PET film and plastic interlay to create two monumental nested forms. Combined in this way, the two forms create a suggestive, subtly modulated interior space.
Made in the artist’s 78th year, VFZ 1 attests to the enduring appeal of glass in the creative process.