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.”

Barry Le Va - Shatterscatter (Within the Series of Layered/Pattern Acts) - MOCA U - MOCAtv 


The first large-scale assessment of the work of ten American sculptors created during a critical period in the development of contemporary American sculpture, The New Sculpture 1965-75: Between Geometry and Gesture was organized by whitneymuseum and held at The Temporary Contemporary at MOCA in 1991. 

The work of Long Beach-born artist Barry Le Va figured prominently in the exhibition. As Whitney Museum curator Richard Marshall wrote, Le Va was part of a group of artists, all born around 1940, who formulated a generational aesthetic which expanded the theoretical and material conventions of minimalism.

Le Va himself deemphasized the materiality of his activities, which including large felt “scatter” pieces and seemingly random architectural structures. As he explained, his work was “not so much indications of a specific process, as of marking of stages in time.”

Continuous and Related Activities: Discontinued by the Act of Dropping
1967 (reconstructed 1990)
Felt and plate glass (variable)
[Opposite Flocked Wall (1969) by Keith Sonnier]

On Center Shatter—Or—Shatterscatter (Within The Series of Layered Pattern Acts)
1961 (reconstructed 1990)
Five sheets, 59 x 79 each

Circular Network: A. Areas; B. Activities
1971-73 (reconstructed 1990)
Wood and cast concrete
312 x 360 (variable)

Stay tuned for a filmed installation of Le Va's Shatterscatter at MOCA Grand Ave.