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Museum Exhibition

Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, CA
Phenomenal: California Light, Space, Surface

September 25, 2011 – January 22, 2012

Museum Exhibition

Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, CA
Phenomenal: California Light, Space, Surface

September 25, 2011 – January 22, 2012

In the 1960s and ’70s, light became a primary medium for a loosely-affiliated group of artists working in Los Angeles. Whether by directing the flow of natural light, embedding artificial light within objects or architecture, or by playing with light through the use of transparent, translucent or reflective materials, these artists each made the visitor’s experience of light and other sensory phenomena under specific conditions the focus of their work. Key examples of this approach include immersive environments by Bruce Nauman and Eric Orr, each of which produce different and extreme retinal responses; the disorienting and otherworldly glow of a Doug Wheeler light environment; a richly hued and spatially perplexing light piece from James Turrell’s Wedgework series, and the subtle sculpting of space with natural light by Robert Irwin.

 
In addition to artworks which literally claim the entire space of the room, Phenomenal also features a number of sculptures and paintings that function as prisms or mirrors to activate the space surrounding them. The properties of glass are explored in Larry Bell’s coated glass cubes and in monochromatic paintings by Mary Corse which are embedded with tiny glass microbeads. Elsewhere in the exhibition, the variously luminous and prismatic effects of cast or vacuum-formed resins and plastics are demonstrated with exceptional works by Peter Alexander, Ron Cooper, Robert Irwin, Craig Kauffman, Helen Pashgian and De Wain Valentine. Lush pigmentation and supreme reflectivity combine in John McCracken’s lacquered sculptures to create bold objects which paradoxically melt into their environment by mirroring the details of the surrounding room.

Exhibition Artists