Term used to describe mixed-media art works which occupy an entire room or gallery space and into which usually the spectator can enter. Some installations, however, are designed simply to be walked around and contemplated, or are so fragile that they can only be viewed from a doorway, or one end of a room. Installation art emerged from the earlier form of the Environment. One of the originators of Environments was the American artist Allan Kaprow in works made from about 1957 on. In an undated interview published in 1965 Kaprow said of his first Environment: 'I just simply filled the whole gallery up ¿ When you opened the door you found yourself in the midst of an entire Environment ¿ The materials were varied: sheets of plastic, crumpled up cellophane, tangles of Scotch tape, sections of slashed and daubed enamel and pieces of coloured cloth'. There were also lights hung within all this and 'five tape machines spread around the space played electronic sounds which I had composed'. Miscellaneous materials (mixed media), light and sound have remained fundamental to installation art. From that time on the creation of installations became a major strand in modern art, increasingly from about 1990, and many artists have made them.
Untitled 1971 by Larry Bell (born 1939)
Vacuum deposited metal on glass
displayed: 1880 x 5490 x 2440 mm
The artist rearranged the planned original installation and the work has since been shown in different configurations. Until the mid-1960s Bell concentrated on making works using a box format. In 1968 he said that what interested him most about his later boxes all seemed to happen in certain sections of the unit. By then he felt that this format had become an inhibiting factor which he had to destroy or pass beyond. He began to experiment with works of an environmental character and to create a space which people could walk around and into, and at the same time see through. However, in the interests of safety visitors must keep behind the barriers.