T02411 VAPOUR DRAWING LDIF4 4/16/79 1979
Inscribed ‘L. Bell 79’ b.c.
Vaporised metal on paper, 60 × 36 3/8 (152.6 × 92.4)
Purchased from the artist (Grant-in-Aid) 1979
Larry Bell has used the industrial process of vacuum deposition to coat glass surfaces since 1962, when he made the Tate Gallery's mirrored box, ‘Untitled’ (T01695). He obtained his first vacuum chamber in 1966 and a larger one in 1969, making it possible to work with large-scale glass surfaces. In March 1978, he made his first ‘vapour drawing’ on paper, using a modified version of the vacuum coating process.
The material Bell uses to coat both his glass and his paper works is Inconel, a nickel chrome alloy containing iron, magnesium, cobalt and traces of other metals. This is loaded onto filaments (similar to those used for light bulbs), which are then placed in a vacuum chamber. Each filament is approximately six inches long and is made up of stranded tungsten wire around the centre of which is wrapped a twelve inch strip of Inconel wire…