New York

Larry Bell

Pace Gallery

In his new works at the Pace Gallery, Larry Bell seems to be retrenching, returning voluntarily to the intimate scale to which he had been limited in his earlier glass cubes, but which he appeared to have transcended in several glass “wall pieces” shown outside of New York last year.

The glass is still treated by Bell’s elaborate optical lens coating machine, so that evanescent spectrums of rosy, smoky hues slide over the surfaces of the fragile, mirrored pieces. They are extremely narrow strips (three to six inches wide by about six to nine feet long) attached to the wall at waist height like glass ledges or shelves. There is a definite minimizing of one’s bodily response to these lovely, precious slivers, since one is led to view them from a single side (that is, from above, or from one end, but not from a variety of vantage points, as with the boxes or walls). Further restrictions are sensed in the rather incidental addition of opaque frosty bands which border the longitudinal edges of each strip. Only the central areas are gradated with fluid runs of the spectrum ranging from deep purple through green and yellow to an iridescent transparency. The overhead lighting passes through the ledges, and is reflected up and down by them so that an aura of colored light surrounds them on their backing surface. Although they are certainly very attractive works, the sense of fullness and the mysterious, demanding complexities of viewing the earlier cubes seems to be lacking here. Instead, an elegant, speedy stripe of light and reflected color hugs the wall in a way which suggests recession from the spectator, rather than an engagement on the more perplexing mental, visual, and physical levels.

Emily Wasserman