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National Gallery of Art Acquires Leo Villareal's Installation Multiverse
Leo Villareal, Multiverse.© Leo Villareal. Photo: National Gallery of Art.
WASHINGTON, DC.- Conner Contemporary Art announced that the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC has acquired for the permanent collection Leo Villareal's installation Multiverse.

Multiverse, the largest and most complex light sculpture created by American artist Leo Villareal, may be seen and experienced by visitors as they pass through the Concourse walkway between the East and West Buildings of the National Gallery of Art. Commissioned by the Gallery and on view until November 2009, the work features approximately 41,000 computer-programmed LED (light-emitting diode) nodes that run through channels along the entire 200-foot-long space. The development of this LED project began in 2005, and the installation created by Villareal specifically for this location began in September 2008.

Villareal's work features movement and light, qualities that make this installation particularly well-suited for the Gallery's underground walkway, an area through which thousands of people pass daily. Once the appropriate hardware was installed in the existing architecture, the artist programmed sequences through his custom-designed software to create abstract configurations of light. His programming both instructs the lights and allows for an element of chance. While it is possible that a pattern will repeat during a viewer's experience, it is highly unlikely. Still, the eye will seek patterns in the motion, a perceptual effect of the hypnotic trailing lights.

Throughout the last four decades, a growing number of artists have explored the use of light to frame and create spaces in the built environment. These include Dan Flavin's space-defining fluorescent light sculptures, James Turrell's color-saturated voids, Jenny Holzer's LED-generated texts, and Felix Gonzales-Torres' strings of lightbulbs. While Villareal's art acknowledges these artistic forbearers, his concepts relate most closely to the instructional wall drawings of Sol LeWitt and the systems of Peter Halley's paintings.

Born in 1967 in Albuquerque, NM, Villareal began experimenting with light, sound, and video while studying set design and sculpture at Yale University, where he received his BA. He earned his MPS in the design of new media, computational media, and embedded computing from New York University's pioneering interactive telecommunications program at the Tisch School of the Arts. He also learned the programming skills that enable him to push LED technology far past familiar commercial applications.

Based in New York, Villareal has been included in solo and group exhibitions, and has made numerous site-specific commissions throughout the world, at major cultural institutions such as P.S.1 MoMA, New York; Brooklyn Academy of Music; Albright Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY; and the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Overland Park, KS.

National Gallery of Art | Leo Villareal | Multiverse |

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