The Frist Art Museum presents LIGHT, SPACE, SURFACE: works from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art

The Frist Art Museum presents Light, Space, Surface: Works from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, an exhibition of immersive sculptures, paintings, and installations by a group of artists working in 1960s Southern California nowadays. Organized by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), Light, Space, Surface will be presented from June 3 to September 4, 2022.

Featuring 50 works by 22 artists ranging from small sculptures to walk-in experiential environments, this visually enticing exhibition explores how the properties of light and space as well as highly polished surfaces can themselves be forms of art. “This exhibition challenges us to rethink what art can be and the materials artists can use to create their work,” said Carol S. Eliel, senior curator of modern art at LACMA. “While these works may evoke Southern California for visitors – its sunshine, open spaces, and shiny surfaces on surfboards and cars – the roots of Light and Space and the ‘finish fetish’ go much deeper. far.”

Renowned “light and space” and “finishing fetish” artists are united by an interest in manipulating the medium of light, projected or reflected, to alter the perception of form, architectural space, and surface qualities. Going beyond the tradition of depicting light through painting or photography, artists like Robert Irwin, James Turrell and Doug Wheeler create installations in which real light takes on a form that seems to exist between presence and absence, offering a way to enter a mysterious immaterial. world.

“In the 1960s and 1970s, various Southern California artists began creating works that investigate perceptual phenomena: how we come to understand form, volume, presence, and absence through light, seen directly through other materials, reflected or refracted,” Eliel said. . “Many artists used newly developed industrial materials such as cast resins, fiberglass, neon lights and spray paint to tie art and technology together in a cool aesthetic that echoes detachment. emotion of pop art and minimalism of the time.” Their shiny surfaces and intense light are often seen as hallmarks of the identity of Southern California, with its car and surfboard culture and bright oceanside surroundings, although artists are in fact inspired by many different experiences to develop their practices.

The best-known figure in the exhibition is James Turrell (b. 1943), whose work deals directly with the power of light to create illusory space. In one of his works in the exhibition, Afrum (White), the projected light generates the appearance of a radiating cube floating in the corner of the room.
As Frist Art Museum audiences may recall from a 2014 solo exhibition in our Gordon Contemporary Artists Project Gallery, Helen Pashgian (b. 1934) has been fascinated by the complex relationship between light and surface since her earlier childhood. In Untitled, one of two works by Pashgian featured in the exhibition, she places a bent acrylic rod within a cast resin object, complicating the way her nearly transparent sculpture reflects and refracts light.

Mary Corse (b. 1945) explored various ways to bring light to the medium of paint through the use of glass microspheres – the tiny beads used for lines and highway lane signage, which reflect and refract light from car headlights. This led to the iconic Corsican White Light paintings, which she continues to do today. Microspheres transform ordinary paints into light-sensitive canvases that change appearance depending on the position of the viewer. Such works exist as constantly evolving perceptual experiences in which the viewer is an active participant.

Peter Alexander (b. 1939) believed that only perfectly polished finishes – as seen in his corner sculptures in the exhibition – would fully immerse the viewer. He came to polyester resin as a sculptural material through surfing, intrigued by the translucent, moldable nature of the liquid resin he used to varnish and repair his surfboard. Larry Bell (b. 1939) also considers the surfaces of his works to be paramount and was drawn to the surface properties of glass. Through a vacuum coating process, it changes the way glass absorbs, reflects and transmits light, allowing it to create endless variations in color, transparency and reflectivity.
To further enhance the multi-sensory experience in the galleries, the Frist has collaborated with the Nashville Ambient Ensemble, who have composed new music inspired by select works from the exhibition that will be featured during the audio tour instead of verbal commentary. Curated and directed by electronic composer Michael Hix, the Ensemble’s lineup features some of the most creative and innovative artists in town, including Belly Full of Stars, Diatom Deli and Jack Silverman. While Hix says he normally goes for warm analog synth sounds in his music, for this project he opted to create a “clean digital palette to complement the show’s emphasis on industrial materials, light and electricity”. As an additional resource, a behind-the-scenes video of the Nashville Ambient Ensemble recording audio tour at Club Roar in Nashville will be accessible via QR code in the gallery and on The Ensemble’s debut album, Cerulean, was released in 2021 on Nashville-based label Centripetal Force.

Exhibition Artists
Peter Alexander, Larry Bell, Billy Al Bengston, Judy Chicago, Gisela Colón, Ron Cooper, Mary Corse, Ronald Davis, Guy Dill, Laddie John Dill, Fred Eversley, Robert Irwin, Craig Kauffman, John McCracken, Bruce Nauman, Helen Pashgian, Roland Reiss, Roy Thurston, James Turrell, De Wain Valentine, Doug Wheeler and Norman Zammitt.

Curator’s Tour: Light, Space, Surface: Works from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Thursday, June 2
6:30-7:30 p.m.
Ingram Gallery; free for members; admission required for non-members; registration required
Learn more about the immersive installations, paintings, and sculptures exhibited in Light, Space, Surface during this tour of the exhibition with organizing curator Carol S. Eliel, Senior Curator of Modern Art at LACMA.

Mildred D. Field