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 the mechanics of perception. Although he would later utilize coating technologies developed in the aerospace industry, Bell was first inspired to use etched and mirrored glass while working at a commercial frame shop during his time as a student at the Chouinard Art Institute. In Bell’s early cube works, he used coated glass panes fabricated to his specifications by a Los Angeles company. Later, he purchased his own Kinney vacuum-coating chamber, which allowed him to apply thin films of semi-transparent substances to sheets of glass, using a process by which metals such as aluminum, chromium, rhodium, and silicon monoxide are vaporized inside the chamber and their particles deposited on the surface of the glass. Bell taught himself the process using a copy of the 1956 textbook on the subject, Vacuum Deposition of Thin Films. The results articulate Bell’s fascination with both the reflection and absorption of light and evince his interest in the possibilities opened up by the transparent and reflective qualities of glass.