Press RoomPhoenix Art Museum premieres solo Larry Bell exhibition exploring artist’s six-decade career through glass sculptures and collage works

Phoenix Art Museum premieres solo Larry Bell exhibition exploring artist’s six-decade career through glass sculptures and collage works

Phoenix Art Museum premieres solo Larry Bell exhibition exploring artist’s six-decade career through glass sculptures and collage works
Feb, 26, 2024

Modern and Contemporary Art

Phoenix Art Museum premieres solo Larry Bell exhibition exploring artist’s six-decade career through glass sculptures and collage works

Larry Bell: Improvisations celebrates the legacy of experimental artist Larry Bell, known for exploring light, space, and optical sensations, and premieres new sculptural and mixed-media work

PHOENIX (February 26, 2024) – This spring, Phoenix Art Museum presents Larry Bell: Improvisations, showcasing the artistic achievements and career of one of the most influential artists to emerge from the Light and Space movement. The survey explores the progression of Bell’s process from the 1960s through the present day, featuring a wide range of glass cubes, sculptures, large-scale standing walls, and mixed-media collages Bell created using a cutting-edge vacuum deposition technique. Larry Bell: Improvisations is on view from May 22, 2024, through January 5, 2025, in the Katz Wing of Modern Art at Phoenix Art Museum.

“We are excited to bring together this captivating body of work by the Light and Space artist Larry Bell,” said Jeremy Mikolajczak, the Sybil Harrington Director and CEO of Phoenix Art Museum. “Bell has dedicated his practice to investigating and perfecting techniques to create his distinctive work, and this survey not only celebrates his achievements across a notable 60-year career but his influence on the field of contemporary art and our understanding of how art can shape the ways we perceive our environment and reality.”

Born in Chicago in 1939, Larry Bell is an experimental artist who has long explored interactions between light and surface through glass sculpture, monochrome painting, collage, and furniture design. First recognized for his central role in the Light and Space movement of the 1960s alongside Robert Irwin, Ed Ruscha, James Turrell, and others, Bell began his career by creating cubic volume using shaped canvases and incorporating mirror, wood, and glass. Early on, he discovered a vacuum deposition technique that allowed him to transfer thin film deposits onto glass panes, resulting in his early cubes that had dazzling visual effects. From there, Bell used light as a medium to home in on how different surfaces reflect, absorb, and transmit light. He went on to use a vacuum tank and later a mounting press to experiment with heat and vapor-coated paper, resulting in various series of collage works.

Larry Bell: Improvisations demonstrates the progression of Bell’s practice through a wide selection of glass sculptures and collage works from the 1960s to today. Visitors begin by surveying a selection of smaller scale glass cubes that appear either in their entirety or deconstructed alongside other smaller works that explore the right angle, underscoring Bell’s fascination with geometric elements. Next, large-scale standing walls composed of 12 pieces of solid glass reveal how Bell scaled up his cubic investigations to installations and environments. Each standing wall is configured on-site, their shapes created in direct response to their settings. At 6 feet tall, they affect viewers’ perception, emphasizing the relationship between perceived versus physical realities. Exemplifying Bell’s most recent work, Improvisations debuts a selection of Light Knot sculptures that suspend from the ceiling and appear to dance as they absorb and reflect the surrounding light, along with one newly commissioned large-scale work—a cubic form representing the mercurial sun, surrounded by clouded glass evocative of the fog of Venice Beach, California.

In addition, Improvisations features rarely exhibited collage works from the Phoenix Art Museum Collection, including examples from Bell’s Vapor Drawings (1978-present), Mirage series (1980s-present), and Fraction series (1996-2001). These works on paper mirror the reflective, ambiguous, and spatial qualities of Bell’s sculptural works and were created by submitting mylar, paper, and other materials to the vacuum deposition technique and mounting press.

“Throughout the exhibition, visitors discover the intuition, spontaneity, and improvisation inherent in Larry Bell’s process,” said Rachel Sadvary Zebro, the Museum’s associate curator of collections and the exhibition’s curator. “Across each decade, Bell has experimented with new techniques and materials, but what is abundantly clear when considering the works in Improvisations is that Bell always returns home—to the cube.”

High-resolution photography can be downloaded here. To request interviews, contact the Communications Office of Phoenix Art Museum at 602.257.2117 or

About the Exhibition
Larry Bell: Improvisations is organized by Phoenix Art Museum and curated by Rachel Sadvary Zebro, associate curator of collections at Phoenix Art Museum. It is made possible through the generosity of Lee and Mike Cohn. All exhibitions at Phoenix Art Museum are underwritten by the Phoenix Art Museum Exhibition Excellence Fund, founded by The Opatrny Family Foundation, with additional significant support provided by Joan Cremin.

Admission is free for Museum Members; youth aged five and younger; and Maricopa County Community Colleges students. Entrance into the exhibition is included in general admission for the public, including during voluntary donation times on Wednesdays from 3 – 9 pm, made possible by SRP and the City of Phoenix. For a full breakdown of general-admission prices and hours, see

About Phoenix Art Museum
Since 1959, Phoenix Art Museum has provided millions of guests with access to world-class art and experiences in an effort to ignite imaginations, create meaningful connections, and serve as a brave space for all people who wish to experience the transformative power of art. Located in Phoenix’s Central Corridor, the Museum is a vibrant destination for the visual arts and the largest art museum in the southwestern United States. Each year, more than 300,000 guests engage with critically acclaimed national and international exhibitions and the Museum’s collection of more than 20,000 works of American and Western American, Asian, European, Latin American, modern and contemporary art, and fashion design. The Museum also presents a comprehensive film program, live performances, and educational programs designed for visitors of all ages, along with vibrant photography exhibitions made possible through the Museum’s landmark partnership with the Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona. To learn more about Phoenix Art Museum, visit, or call 602.257.1880.

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