Skip to content

Head-Image

Liz Larner: Pioneers

Installation view of Liz Larner: X, Aspen Art Museum, November 6, 2015 – October 9, 2016. Photo: Tony Prikryl

Regen Projects is pleased to present a virtual exhibition dedicated to American sculptor Liz Larner focusing on thirty years of her dynamic practice. A true pioneer, Larner has consistently redefined the possibilities of sculpture through her conceptual approach and experimentation. Further articulating the experimental approaches forged by icons of 20th century sculpture before her such as Eva Hesse, Tony Smith, and Ken Price, with whom she studied ceramics at USC, Larner’s work evokes an exquisite tension through the use of unconventional materials, the manipulation of space, the presence of unexpected color, and the destabilization of volume.

Our presentation features sculptures that highlight the virtuosic and multifaceted materiality throughout Larner’s work, which demonstrates a dialogue between apparent opposites, be it the fusion of industrial materials with varied fabrics, opposing colors, or how her use of materials conspires with the viewer's sense of fullness and void, transparency and opacity, expansion, and fragmentation.

Recently, Larner’s concerns have turned toward an interest in our shared ecology in the Anthropocene era—the historical moment wherein human activity and intervention is the most dominant ecological force on the planet, shaping the course of rivers, moving entire mountains, and raising the ocean itself. In an upcoming solo exhibition curated by Daniel Baumann titled Below Above at the Kunsthalle Zurich in June of 2022, Larner will present a major new work in manipulated recycled plastic that takes as its source the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, an ongoing environmental catastrophe that amounts to a floating landfill the size of several American states swirling atop our planet’s largest ocean. Regen Projects will debut some of this work in a solo exhibition titled As Stars and Seas Entwine, opening March 27.

A retrospective curated by Mary Ceruti titled Don’t put it back like it was will open at SculptureCenter, Long Island City in January 2022 and Walker Art Center, Minneapolis in April 2022. Larner’s work has been the subject of solo museum exhibitions including the Aspen Art Museum, curated by Heidi Zuckerman (2016); Art Institute of Chicago, curated by Kate Dillon and Lekha Hileman Waitoller (2015); Two or Three or Something: Maria Lassnig, Liz Larner, curated by Adam Budak and Peter Pakesch, Kunsthaus Graz (2006); Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, curated by Russell Ferguson (2001-02); I Thought I Saw a Pussycat, curated by Daniela Zyman, MAK, Austrian Museum of Applied Arts, Vienna (1998); and Kunsthalle Basel, curated by Peter Pakesch (1997). Group exhibitions include Damage Control, curated by Kerry Brougher and Russell Ferguson, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C. (2013-14); Blues for Smoke, curated by Bennett Simpson, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2012-13); Under Destruction, curated by Gianni Jetzer and Chris Sharp, Museum Tinguely, Basel (2010-11); the International Biennial of Contemporary Art of Seville The Unhomely: Phantom Scenes in Global Society, curated by Okwui Enwezor, Seville (2006-07); and Helter Skelter: L.A. Art in the 1990s, curated by Paul Schimmel, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (1992). She was featured in two Whitney Biennials (2006 curated by Chrissie Iles and Philippe Vergne, 1989 curated by Richard Armstrong, John G. Hanhardt, Richard Marshall, and Lisa Phillips).

LL 113

Liz Larner
Corridor Orange/Blue
1991
Metal, wood, car paint, fabric, stainless steel, steel, wood
132 x 162 x 48 inches (335.3 x 411.5 x 121.9 cm) variable
 

LL 113 text

Liz Larner
Corridor Orange/Blue (detail)
1991
Metal, wood, car paint, fabric, stainless steel, steel, wood
132 x 162 x 48 inches (335.3 x 411.5 x 121.9 cm) variable

The earliest example of Larner’s work presented here, Corridor Orange/Blue, 1991, consists of a bright orange wood and metal structure with protrusions that pierce a soft fabric body collaged from vintage sweaters in brilliant technicolor shades of orange—blue’s complimentary color—ranging from crimson to hazard yellow and marigold. Hanging from the ceiling beside it are several high-gloss metal panels in ascending shades of blue. At first glance entirely incongruous as a set and opposite in color, the pair awkwardly mimic each other’s shape. The colorful “corridor” as a primary experience also fragments and fractures onlookers as they walk through and around it.  While the space that separates them is the width of a standard hallway, the structures are psychically and emotionally a world apart.

Combining industrial materials with an assortment of fabrics, Larner organizes apparent opposites—soft and hard, handmade and hi-tech—in mental and physical proximity to arouse the viewer’s sense of the means by which color and form create and affect our everyday world. Curator Russell Ferguson writes, “There is a pushing and pulling back and forth between the impulse to order and the countervailing allure of surrender to looseness and disintegration. Despite her almost dazzling virtuosity, Larner always wants what she makes to lead out of form and into a broader context. ‘I still want to have an object,’ she has said, ‘but I don’t want a recognition of form—the external shape of the object—to be the primary element of my sculpture.’”

(Russell Ferguson, “Iron Virgin and Fleshy Virgin” in Two or Three or Something: Maria Lassnig, Liz Larner, published by Kunsthalle Graz, 2006)

LL 238

Liz Larner
Reflector Wizards
1992
Mirror, aluminum, steel, leather
98 1/2 x 70 x 70 7/8 inches (250.2 x 177.8 x 180 cm) variable

LL 238 text

Liz Larner
Reflector Wizards
1992
Mirror, aluminum, steel, leather
98 1/2 x 70 x 70 7/8 inches (250.2 x 177.8 x 180 cm) variable

Reflector Wizards, 1992, suspends in space a quartet of reflective, missing figures that we know only by what covers them. Composed of a metal armature sheathed in jagged fragments of mirrored glass, the vacant, spectral forms twinkle in and out of materiality as they reflect and fracture not only their surroundings, but one another as well. Penny Florence writes, “there is a mutating formal language operative in Larner’s overall oeuvre, one that mobilizes poetic language and mathematics in space to interrogate and re-make it, at the same time as it makes the viewers consider themselves in relation to it. The work of art is as surely the focus as it was in the sculptural tradition before postmodernism, but the work is no longer a separate or fixed object….Larner’s sculptural elements…mutually qualify and converse with each other—they set up a ‘polyogue’ rather than a dialogue, and the viewer participates.” This is particularly true of Reflector Wizards, in which the art encounter encompasses viewer and art object alike, which become intertwined as they move and shift. As they do, so too do their surroundings appear to shift and fragment into an echo chamber of spaces. 

(Penny Florence, “Outer Space, Embodied Sense Two Meditations and Then Some (Futures)” in Two or Three or Something: Maria Lassnig, Liz Larner, published by Kunsthalle Graz, 2006)

LL 238 details
LL 236

Liz Larner
smile (abiding)
1996-2005
Cast porcelain, dry-process fiber board, rubber, steel
Smile Dimensions:
21 x 31 x 12 1/2 inches (53.3 x 78.7 x 31.8 cm)
Base Dimensions:
33 1/4 x 18 3/8 x 28 1/4 inches (84.5 x 46.7 x 71.8 cm)

LL 236 text

Liz Larner
smile (abiding)
1996-2005
Cast porcelain, dry-process fiber board, rubber, steel
Smile Dimensions:
21 x 31 x 12 1/2 inches (53.3 x 78.7 x 31.8 cm)
Base Dimensions:
33 1/4 x 18 3/8 x 28 1/4 inches (84.5 x 46.7 x 71.8 cm)

Larner, who is today considered an innovator in ceramics, had her first foray into the material with her smile series. Curator Jenelle Porter writes, “Given Larner’s investment in concretizing the ephemeral, immortalizing the atmospheric, and chronicling the unseen, the smile seems a fitting subject.” The works and their titles are inspired by descriptions of smiles Larner came across in novels including John Gregory Dunne’s The Red White and Blue, in which the author indexes such assorted smiles as an “icicle smile,” “a small, satisfied smile,” “a luminous, loony smile,” an “executioner’s smile,” and a “languid smile.” smile (abiding), 1996 – 2005, emerges out of a network of triangular facets which, crinkled and paper-like, culminate in two haphazard peaks of a crescent. The work possesses a makeshift quality that belies the fragility of its cast porcelain shell and the precision and technical ability required of the process. Porter continues, “Casting porcelain is exceedingly challenging—especially if one intends to make a sculpture that is supposed to look provisional, as if it had been folded into an origami abstraction and then held together by hot-glued seams.” The effect is one of freezing a fleeting moment of the artistic process. By capturing an ephemeral moment of its making, the work formally embodies its very subject, itself an ephemeral gesture: the smile.

(Jenelle Porter, “X Quantities” in Liz Larner, published on the occasion of her exhibition at the Aspen Art Museum, 2016)

LL 236 detail
LL 195

Liz Larner
Ghost Story
2002-2003
Patinated Bronze 
84 x 84 x 84 inches (213.4 x 213.4 x 213.4 cm)
Edition of 3, 1 AP

LL 195 text

Installation view of Ghost Story, Regen Projects, Los Angeles, 2021

Over the course of her career, Larner has looked to the organic and natural world for sources of inspiration. Ghost Story, a patinated bronze sculpture comprised of a spindly burst of conjoined tree branches, is one of three artworks that takes this arboreal form. To make the work, Larner gathered fallen branches of a Jeffrey Pine that were scattered following a violent storm in the Sierra Nevadas, then assembled them in a delicate anthropomorphic arrangement. Paying homage to the spirit of the wind and the storm, the title likens the casting process to a sort of ghost story that leaves a fossil or trace of the living source material in the resulting form of the work. Resting on four points, Ghost Story evokes a lightness as if blown by the wind that originally felled the pine branches. 

LL 195 detail
LL 304

Liz Larner
6
2010-11
Polyurethane on Stainless Steel
49 x 94 x 71 inches (124.5 x 238.8 x 180.3 cm)

Like a line drawing manifested in space, 6, 2010 – 11, takes the form of two interlocking rectangular contours, one rigid and geometric, the other organic and warped. Following conceptually from an earlier open cube work by Larner, 2 as 3 and Some, Too, 1997 – 98, 6 demonstrates form reduced to its most essential qualities. Referencing the palette of Antonioni’s first color film, Red Desert, 1964, the free-standing steel framework is painted in contrasting noxious hues of white, purple, and oxidized yellow, colors which destabilize not just in relation to one another, but in relation to the structure itself. Formal disturbances occur where one color terminates and another begins, producing the illusion of interrupted line. “We’re not really used to seeing colors distort form by not following it,” Larner has said. “Color is such a huge part of our perception, so to be able to use it as material and make it work volumetrically, not use it just graphically, is something that’s very interesting to me.” In so suggesting new formal possibilities for color, the work transcends given definitions and expectations of space and the formal limitations therein. 

(Liz Larner in “Distorting Form with Color,” Art21, 2017. Click here to watch.)

LL AIC install

Installation view of Liz Larner, curated by Kate Dillon and Lekha Hileman Waitoller, The Art Institute of Chicago, April 24 – September 27, 2015. Photo: Clare Britt

LL 361

Liz Larner

2013
Mirror polished cast stainless steel
54 5/8 x 119 1/2 x 94 inches (138.7 x 303.5 x 238.8 cm)
Edition of 1, 1 AP

LL 361 text

Installation view of X, Walker Art Center terrace, Minneapolis, 2015.

Photo: Gene Pittman

“X is a place to start; it marks the spot. X is mathematical, metaphorical, scientific, emblematic, and symbolic: it is a placeholder, a multiplier, a signature, a chromosome, a kiss. It is an intersection in space. It is the independent variable and the unknown quantity. …For Larner, X is as immaterial as it is concrete, a graphic character as much as a symbol of the unknown. X is a minimal, geometric form that she exploits for its flexible dimensionality, for the limitless and productive sculptural questions that the translation from two dimensions to three affords. …Much like a room, or a cube, an X is a form so familiar that it is accepted as a given, a specific thing in itself, and is voided of meaning by its ‘factness.’ Larner, in all her work, seeks to destabilize such givens, to ‘open a question that is closed down.’”

— Jenelle Porter, “X Quantities”


As its title suggests, the polished steel sculpture X, 2013, involves intersecting paths, in this case wide bands with beveled edges of polished stainless steel which bow upward to converge in a gentle crest, while their terminal ends curl under, arachnid-like. Larner arrived at the idiosyncratic form using digital modeling to wrap the shape around a three-dimensional object. The solid form it takes on is undone by the reflective surface that absorbs, and disappears into, its surroundings.

 

 

LL 361 banner
LL 374

Liz Larner
V (planchette)
2013
Mulberry paper, aluminum, pigmented egg tempera
98 x 88 x 68 inches (248.9 x 223.5 x 172.7 cm)

V (planchette), 2013, is the only freestanding example and the fifth in a series Larner created between 2009 and 2013 using an aluminum armature covered in mulberry paper and pigmented egg tempera. Furthering Larner's interest in the dialogue between color and form, the planchette at first appears monochromatic, but on closer inspection reveals varied hues of purple and black, as well as surfaces and textures. Embodying forms both anthropomorphic and geometric, V (planchette) has a visual density that is at odds with its material constitution. As the viewer circumambulates the work, the sculpture appears to shift, transform, and refract. As Russell Ferguson has written, “Larner is more engaged in the idea of a relationship between the artist and the viewer. The physical presence of the viewer in relationship to the three-dimensionality of the sculpture creates an environment that inevitably encompasses the social as well as the individual.”

(Russell Ferguson, “Iron Virgin and Fleshy Virgin” in Two or Three or Something: Maria Lassnig, Liz Larner, published by Kunsthalle Graz, 2006)

LL 374 detail
LL 449

Liz Larner
xvi (caesura)
2015
Ceramic, epoxy
20 3/8 x 37 1/2 x 12 1/4 inches (51.8 x 95.3 x 31.1 cm)

LL 449 text

Larner Studio, 2015. Photo: Catherine Opie

Since 2010 ceramic has played a central role in Larner’s investigations into the limits and possibilities of material form. xvi (Caesura), 2015, an example of her signature wall-mounted sculptures, features a fractured slab of rolled clay dripping with colored epoxy and combines her interest in abstraction and geology. In her essay, Jenelle Porter writes, “Although applied color is fundamental to this series, Larner points out that the works adopt none of the nomenclature of painting. There is no figure and ground relationship. The support is clay, not canvas. Furthermore, though the works hang on the wall, they in fact project relief-like from the wall at no insignificant distance, into the space of the room. The works appear to hover, defying their materiality, until one draws close and encounters their bulk and dimensionality.”

 

(Jenelle Porter, “X Quantities” in Liz Larner, published on the occasion of her exhibition at the Aspen Art Museum, 2016)

LL 449 banner

Thumb-Show

Thumb-Show Thumbnails
LL 113

Liz Larner
Corridor Orange/Blue
1991
Metal, wood, car paint, fabric, stainless steel, steel, wood
132 x 162 x 48 inches (335.3 x 411.5 x 121.9 cm) variable

$350,000

DOUBLE CLICK IMAGE FOR MORE VIEWS

Inquire
LL 238

Liz Larner
Reflector Wizards
1992
Mirror, aluminum, steel, leather
98 1/2 x 70 x 70 7/8 inches (250.2 x 177.8 x 180 cm) variable

$350,000
 

DOUBLE CLICK IMAGE FOR MORE VIEWS

Inquire
LL 236

Liz Larner
smile (abiding)
1996-2005
Cast porcelain, dry-process fiber board, rubber, steel
Smile Dimensions:
21 x 31 x 12 1/2 inches (53.3 x 78.7 x 31.8 cm)
Base Dimensions:
33 1/4 x 18 3/8 x 28 1/4 inches (84.5 x 46.7 x 71.8 cm)

$100,000

DOUBLE CLICK IMAGE FOR MORE VIEWS

Inquire
LL 195

Liz Larner
Ghost Story
2002-2003
Patinated Bronze 
84 x 84 x 84 inches (213.4 x 213.4 x 213.4 cm)
Edition of 3, 1 AP

$350,000
 

DOUBLE CLICK IMAGE FOR MORE VIEWS

Inquire
LL 304

Liz Larner
6
2010-11
Polyurethane on Stainless Steel
49 x 94 x 71 inches (124.5 x 238.8 x 180.3 cm)

$250,000
 

DOUBLE CLICK IMAGE FOR MORE VIEWS

Inquire
LL 361

Liz Larner

2013
Mirror polished cast stainless steel
54 5/8 x 119 1/2 x 94 inches (138.7 x 303.5 x 238.8 cm)
Edition of 1, 1 AP

$750,000
 

DOUBLE CLICK IMAGE FOR MORE VIEWS

Inquire
LL 374

Liz Larner
V (planchette)
2013
Mulberry paper, aluminum, pigmented egg tempera
98 x 88 x 68 inches (248.9 x 223.5 x 172.7 cm)

$300,000
 

DOUBLE CLICK IMAGE FOR MORE VIEWS

Inquire
LL 449

Liz Larner
xvi (caesura)
2015
Ceramic, epoxy
20 3/8 x 37 1/2 x 12 1/4 inches (51.8 x 95.3 x 31.1 cm)

$100,000
 

DOUBLE CLICK IMAGE FOR MORE VIEWS

Inquire
LL 113

Liz Larner
Corridor Orange/Blue
1991
Metal, wood, car paint, fabric, stainless steel, steel, wood
132 x 162 x 48 inches (335.3 x 411.5 x 121.9 cm) variable

$350,000

DOUBLE CLICK IMAGE FOR MORE VIEWS

LL 238

Liz Larner
Reflector Wizards
1992
Mirror, aluminum, steel, leather
98 1/2 x 70 x 70 7/8 inches (250.2 x 177.8 x 180 cm) variable

$350,000
 

DOUBLE CLICK IMAGE FOR MORE VIEWS

LL 236

Liz Larner
smile (abiding)
1996-2005
Cast porcelain, dry-process fiber board, rubber, steel
Smile Dimensions:
21 x 31 x 12 1/2 inches (53.3 x 78.7 x 31.8 cm)
Base Dimensions:
33 1/4 x 18 3/8 x 28 1/4 inches (84.5 x 46.7 x 71.8 cm)

$100,000

DOUBLE CLICK IMAGE FOR MORE VIEWS

LL 195

Liz Larner
Ghost Story
2002-2003
Patinated Bronze 
84 x 84 x 84 inches (213.4 x 213.4 x 213.4 cm)
Edition of 3, 1 AP

$350,000
 

DOUBLE CLICK IMAGE FOR MORE VIEWS

LL 304

Liz Larner
6
2010-11
Polyurethane on Stainless Steel
49 x 94 x 71 inches (124.5 x 238.8 x 180.3 cm)

$250,000
 

DOUBLE CLICK IMAGE FOR MORE VIEWS

LL 361

Liz Larner

2013
Mirror polished cast stainless steel
54 5/8 x 119 1/2 x 94 inches (138.7 x 303.5 x 238.8 cm)
Edition of 1, 1 AP

$750,000
 

DOUBLE CLICK IMAGE FOR MORE VIEWS

LL 374

Liz Larner
V (planchette)
2013
Mulberry paper, aluminum, pigmented egg tempera
98 x 88 x 68 inches (248.9 x 223.5 x 172.7 cm)

$300,000
 

DOUBLE CLICK IMAGE FOR MORE VIEWS

LL 449

Liz Larner
xvi (caesura)
2015
Ceramic, epoxy
20 3/8 x 37 1/2 x 12 1/4 inches (51.8 x 95.3 x 31.1 cm)

$100,000
 

DOUBLE CLICK IMAGE FOR MORE VIEWS

line break
Larner bio

Photo: Laure Joliet

Liz Larner (b. 1960 Sacramento, CA) attended the California Institute of the Arts, where she received a BFA in 1985.

A retrospective curated by Mary Ceruti titled Don’t put it back like it was will open at SculptureCenter, Long Island City in January 2022 and Walker Art Center, Minneapolis in April 2022. In the same year, Kunsthalle Zurich will present a solo exhibition of Larner’s work titled Below Above, curated by Daniel Baumann. Larner’s work has been the subject of solo museum exhibitions including the Aspen Art Museum, curated by Heidi Zuckerman (2016); Art Institute of Chicago, curated by Kate Dillon and Lekha Hileman Waitoller (2015); Two or Three or Something: Maria Lassnig, Liz Larner, curated by Adam Budak and Peter Pakesch, Kunsthaus Graz (2006); Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, curated by Russell Ferguson (2001-02); I Thought I Saw a Pussycat, curated by Daniela Zyman, MAK, Austrian Museum of Applied Arts, Vienna (1998); and Kunsthalle Basel, curated by Peter Pakesch (1997).

Larner has been commissioned for multiple public artworks including the Byron G. Rogers Federal Building and Courthouse Plaza, Denver (2015); University of California, San Francisco, Mission Bay Project, San Francisco (2003); and the Riverside Pedestrian Bridge at Walt Disney Studios, Burbank (2000).

Larner has been the recipient of many awards, including the Mutina This Is Not a Prize (2018); the Nancy Graves Foundation Grant (2014); Smithsonian American Art Museum Lucelia Artist Award (2002); and the Guggenheim Fellowship (1999).

Work by the artist is held in prominent international collections, including The Art Institute of Chicago; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; La Colección Jumex, Mexico City; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; among others.

Liz Larner lives and works in Los Angeles.