Untitled, Wall Piece
On View at the Getty Center: Pacific Standard Time: Crosscurrents in L.A. Painting and Sculpture, 1950-1970
Larry Bell’s works in glass are concerned with optical effects and with the mechanics of perception. Bell was first inspired to use etched and mirrored glass while working at a commercial frame shop when he was a student at Chouinard Art Institute, but he later turned to technologies developed in the aerospace industry. In the mid-1960s he acquired a large vacuum coating chamber that allowed him to apply thin metallic films to the surface of glass. For Untitled, Wall Piece Bell partially coated 10-foot-long strips of black and white glass with Inconel (a reflective nickel-chrome alloy). When the strips are hung at intervals along a wall up to 25 feet long, the alternation between reflective and non-reflective parts creates a striking optical effect that seems to dematerialize the wall as the viewer approaches.