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Larry Bell
Portraits of Joan: New Collages
February 13-March 27, 2010
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        Portraits of Joan: New Collages presents a recent group of large scale works on paper by the internationally recognized artist Larry Bell.  The series of works was made at the suggestion of his longtime friend Joan.  Inspired by the opportunity to immerse himself in the collage process, Bell completed a series of works on black paper with luminous metallic fragments.  The artist used various materials such as paper, fabric, acetate, and film that are laminated together with a heating process.  In previous series of collages, Bell used abstract forms and what seemed to be landscape-based imagery.  New, for this show, are the inclusion of figurative imagery and the use of the vertical portrait format.  Bell has titled the works with references to Joan.

Critic, curator and magazine editor Peter Frank has described Bell's previous work with collage in relation to the artist's sculptural work: "...they operate perceptually on the same premise that has always motivated Bell's art. That is, these collage-paintings and collage-drawings question the nature of perception: their appearance elusive and conditional, dependent on specific and ambient light and on the viewer's relative position to them."

For over three decades, Larry Bell has investigated collage as a medium. Bell's development of thin film deposition of metallic particles, usually on the surface of glass, is used in the collages as well. Larry Bell first brought his knowledge of the reflective properties of metallic coatings to works on paper in a series called Vapor Drawings, during the 1970s. The artist also investigated drawing in combination with collage in a series of works titled Fractions, assembling paintings and elements of paper, Mylar, and other components. The Fractions were completed during the period from 1996 to 2000. The open yet composed spaces in these drawings and collages are filled with light and reflection, echoing the artist's life-long interest in the properties of light and the controlled exploitation of materials.

Larry Bell, (born in Chicago in 1939) emerged as a major artist in the mid-1960s, and is often included in exhibitions of seminal Minimal art. His work was shown in the first exhibit to focus on Minimal art, Primary Structures, at the Jewish Museum in 1966. Bell's work was also included in the oft-cited Museum of Modern Art exhibit, The Responsive Eye, in 1965. More recently Bell was included in major survey of Minimalism, curated by Ann Goldstein for the Museum of Contemporary Art, titled A Minimal Future? Art as Object 1958-1968. Bell's work is in the collections of most major museums of contemporary art in the world, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Moderna Museet in Stockholm, Sweden, Art Institute of Chicago, the Walker Center in Minneapolis, Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, and the Tate Modern in London among many others.