'Sumerian Figures #14 & #23'
1998 - metal: bronze
'Sumer Figure #14' and 'Sumer Figure #23' are part of the artist's 'Sumer 'series, which is the complete opposite of his earlier glass boxes. The Sumer project is based entirely on physical human forms. The Sumer series was started in the 1990s when Bell used a computer sketch program to design human figure drawings. At the same time, Bell was working on a commission with architect Frank Gehry, who encouraged the artist to further develop his figure drawing concept. The concept for the project arose from an archeological dig in lower Mesopotamia where cuneiform tablets had been unearthed. These tablets told of the civilization of Sumer, buried more than 4,000 years ago. Leaving no physical depictions of themselves, the Sumerians have allowed Bell the liberty to create figures from his own vision: stick-like, calligraphic figures that represent a society inordinately important during its lifetime but now left only to an artist’s imagination. The outlines of these figures remind Bell of cuneiform letters developed in the pre-Babylonian civilization Sumer. Bell even invented a loose mythology surrounding his figures. The first set of these figures was commissioned to be cast in bronze, a fitting material considering that the Sumer civilization discovered and developed bronze. "Sumer is my most eccentric project. Eccentric because the sculptures do not relate to any of my previous work. The methodology that allows the use of a tool, a computer program, to create something improbable, is not eccentric. I use new methodology all the time. Everything about the Sumer project fell into place perfectly, in a most natural manner, from the computer generated figures to the completed sculptures." ? Larry Bell