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In October 2014, the Chinati Foundation opened an exhibition of work by artist Larry Bell. The exhibition focuses on Bell’s large freestanding glass sculptures, a type of work that he first showed in 1969 and continued to develop and exhibit until the late nineteen-nineties. Due to their fragility, few have survived. The exhibition in Marfa will be the first in almost two decades to show the Standing Walls, as Bell calls them, in a selection of half a dozen works of different sizes and configurations. The exhibition is curated by Marianne Stockebrand, the Chinati Foundation’s Director Emeritus. The exhibition will remain open to the public through July 2015.
For the exhibition Larry Bell assembled 32 same-sized glass panels to form 16 same-shaped standing units. Using both clear and dark gray glass, as well as partially coated panels, the artist placed corners throughout the U-shaped gallery in a sequence of narrower and wider distances while at the same time alternating, or mixing, the different kinds of glass. All 16 units in the exhibition constitute one work.
Glass has been of interest to Larry Bell since the early 1960s when he began using it in smaller works, predominantly cubes. Its properties of transmitting, absorbing and reflecting light have been a driving force in creating works ever since. In the late 1960s he made his first large free-standing glass sculptures, or “Standing Walls” as he prefers to call them, consisting of two or more parts that were configured into corners, squares, zig-zag walls, etc. Their sizes can reach a height of eight feet. Mostly conceived for indoor placement, some of his works were specifically made for outdoor sites.