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Barry Le Va

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Barry Le Va ('64, MFA Fine Arts '67), born in 1941 in Long Beach, studied architecture and math before Otis, where he first “knocked art off the pedestal,” exhibiting directly on the floor.

In his work, broken glass, meat cleavers, wool felt, ball bearings, a typewriter and a gun, are all scattered elements of a composition that he likens to music. At first glance, these “distributions,” as he calls them, appear to be random, even chaotic. In fact, as his drawings attest, the installations are executed according to a language that has developed out of his study of architecture. Space, presence, volume, form, force fields, relations, and tension are key elements. The actual process of making is key: bullets fly against the wall, making marks, glass is shattered, ball bearings roll across the floor making dotted lines.

In 2005, the Institute of Contemporary Art organized the first major survey of Le Va’s work in ten years. His work has been exhibited throughout the world, and is included in major museums such as the Museum of Modern Art, N.Y. and the Whitney Museum.

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