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Artist: Bell, Larry 2 of 8 Previous Previous | Next Next

Ida Rose, 1962

Larry Bell

American, 1939-
Acrylic on canvas
65 x 65 in. (165.1 x 165.1 cm)
Norton Simon Museum, Anonymous Gift through the American Federation of Arts
P.1962.24
© 2008 Larry Bell

Not on view

Larry Bell was a member of the circle of artists associated with the Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles in the 1960s. His artistic development was as
innovative as it was rapid. Though his early work displayed the painterly and calligraphic forms of Abstract Expressionism, he soon began a radical simplification of his practice in an effort to incorporate elements of light and illusion, two preoccupations that have remained a constant in his oeuvre.

Ida Rose is an example of the subtle, immaculate and quasi-monochromatic paintings that Bell was working on at age 23. Four geometric forms surround a monumental skewed rectangle that occupies the center of the canvas by virtue of its being left unpainted. The painting’s orientation, already off-kilter given the tilted axis of the rectangle, is further complicated by the cutting away of two diagonally opposite corners. Bell’s rigorous forms on the hexagonal canvas create a visual conundrum: The sharp-edged shapes are space-denying in their flatness, yet the relationship between them and the exterior of the shaped canvas suggests an optical illusion—a perspectival puzzle that hints at dimension and volume. This work prefigures the artist’s next step—to implicate a third dimension by inserting painted mirrors and glass into the center of the canvas. Bell’s meticulously defined forms, reduced color and strict avoidance of gesture and brushwork endeared him to supporters of the Minimalist and Hard-Edge aesthetics. In fact, his practice demonstrates the California preference for making objects over pictures, which was a foundation of the Light and Space Movement to which he contributed mightily.

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Artist: Bell, Larry 2 of 8 Previous Previous | Next Next