On February 10, 2014, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles installed Barry Le Va’s Shatterscatter (Within the Series of Layered/Pattern Acts) (1968-1971) under the guidance of MOCA Curator Bennett Simpson with a sledgehammer.
Born in Long Beach, California in 1941, Le Va gained prominence when his felt “distribution” works appeared on the cover of Artforum in November 1968. Scattered across large expanses of floor, these works appeared at first to be random in their execution and were grouped with the art of emerging sculptors such as Robert Morris and Richard Serra. But unlike those artists, whose main concerns involved the reliance on chance, Le Va’s distribution pieces were the result of carefully planned and choreographed activities.
In Shatterscatter, six sheets of glass are stacked on top of one another, and as each new layer is added, it is struck with a sledgehammer at its center, causing it to shatter. A final layer of glass is placed over the stack of shards and left untouched. The resulting sculpture is cut off from other works within the exhibition space; its pristine glass top encases the raw energy of the work’s creation into what Le Va called an “isolated contained act.”