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Institute of Contemporary Art Miami

Larry Bell on inspiration, preparation, and practice

“Totally spontaneous, improvisational, and intuitive. To use those three tools, you have to be prepared for it.” Renowned for his iconic glass installations, artist Larry Bell reveals the inspirations and processes behind recent experiments with collage while touring ICA Miami around his studios in Taos, NM, and Venice, CA.

One of the most significant artists of his generation, Larry Bell (b. 1939, Chicago) is an important representative of a West Coast minimalism that married matter-of-fact materials and forms with intense sensorial experiences. Bell is most commonly known for his Minimalist sculptures—transparent cubes that thrive on the interplay of shape, light, and environment—that champion the ideas of the Light and Space Movement of the 1960s. Although he had early success with Abstract Expressionist painting, a side job at a frame shop led him to experiment with excess scraps of glass, thus beginning his fascination with the material’s interaction with light. Bell’s first series of cubes combined three-dimensional glass forms with transmitted light, creating illusions of perspective through angles, ellipses, and mirrors. His later purchase of industrial plating equipment allowed him to create sculptures with metallic-coated glass and, eventually, drawings on Mylar-coated paper.