Daily Archives: May 1, 2015

Liz Larner at the AIC’s Bluhm Family Terrace


Two sculptures by Liz Larner, X (2013) and 6 (2010-11), have been placed under the wide, open sky of the Bluhm Family Terrace at the Art Institute of Chicago. This unique placement, with one of the most beautiful skyline views in Chicago, completely transforms these two works. The two works directly interact with both the wooden platform as well as the architecture of the Art Institute’s Modern Wing, the surrounding buildings, and the sky. Larner’s intention of portraying “thing power” is thus fully realized, as these “things” all interact with one another in a more intense way than would be possible inside of a stuffy gallery space.

Upon first seeing X under the blue Chicago sky, I immediately drew a comparison between Larner’s sculpture and Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate located just behind the terrace in Millennium Park. While both works incorporate the sky, Larner’s is smaller and also not fixed to a specific location as Cloud Gate is. While Cloud Gate can hold its own on the ground level of the city, surrounded by tall and imposing buildings, Larner’s X benefits greatly from its elevated location. This way it is small, but also equal in power to the skyline located behind it.

As Larner’s first project in Chicago in over a decade, the installation of her works on the Bluhm Family Terrace is a powerful choice. Every encounter with the two works is a unique experience dependent on both the surrounding city and the weather. The optimal experience would that in sunny, warm weather, but I wonder what it would be like to encounter this open and exposed terrace in the middle of a storm. How would that change the “thing power” emanating from these works? Needless to say, this is an exhibition worth visiting. Take a walk through Millennium Park, walk over Nicohls Bridgeway and straight into the Bluhm Family Terrace on a nice and sunny day.

“Experimental Forms” –On Liz Larner at the Art Institute of Chicago

Liz Larner, Art Institute of Chicago

Liz Larner, Art Institute of Chicago

Experimenting with reinterpretations of standard geometric shapes, Los Angeles based artist Liz Larner, has added a modern touch on Chicago’s skyline –two three-dimensional, toy-like objects located on the Bluhm Family Terrace on the third level of the museum’s Modern Wing.

Larner’s works, the shimmering stainless steel, X (2013,) and the delicate colorful steel version of a cube, 6 (2010-11,) play with experimental materials, forms and the physicality of objects in space, in a playful installation that is open to interpretation. Creating connections between the artist, the viewer and the environment surrounding us, she strategically positions the two sculptures creating a site-specific context –an invitation to the public to experience and interact with the work itself. Laying on an expansive wooden platform, the sculptures are exposed to the elements and to the viewers, who are invited to step onto the platform for a closer look of their inside and the outside —in the case of X, viewers may enter the physical space of the form itself.

Viewed against the backdrop of Millennium Park –an important addition to the city’s art collection– and Chicago’s skyline, Larner’s work is challenging the viewer to create new experiences of spaces familiar. Between fragility and concrete forms, minimalism and futuristic, sci-fi references, color and the absence thereof, each work remains open to interpretation. Prompting real-time encounter it triggers both the intellectual and the emotional capacities of the viewer. And if not, finding themselves on the platform it’s as good a time as any to simply take a picture.