A vibrant outdoor sculpture that has become a favorite for visitors to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is now part of the museum’s permanent collection. Crystal Bridges has acquired Buckyball, the illuminated sculpture by Leo Villareal that has been on loan to the museum from the artist, the Madison Square Park Conservancy, and Gering & López Gallery, New York, for the past year. Buckyball is a 30-foot, ever-changing sculpture covered in LED tubes capable of displaying some 16 million distinct colors. The light effects move through a random series of transformations, guided by computer software developed by the artist. “Buckyball has drawn admirers to the museum grounds from the day it was illuminated,” said Crystal Bridges Executive Director Rod Bigelow. “In the past year it has become a must-see outdoor installation for visitors, much like James Turrell’s Skyspace on the Art Trail. We are delighted to be able to make it a permanent part of the museum experience.” Buckyball was commissioned by the Madison Square Park Conservancy, New York, and was first exhibited by Mad. Sq. Art, the contemporary art program of the Madison Square Park Conservancy, from October 25, 2012 to February 15, 2013. The sculpture was loaned to Crystal Bridges in 2013 and was installed for a one-year loan agreement, debuting on the Museum grounds near the Orchard Trail on May 2, 2013.
Since then, the sculpture has attracted many visitors to Crystal Bridges with its brilliant and colorful light display, which currently begins at 7:30 p.m. and continues until 11:00 p.m. nightly (hours are adjusted seasonally). During daylight hours, the sculpture features a more subdued white light pattern. Buckyball is highly visible at night from the Museum’s entrance and has become a hub for evening events and social gatherings. “Light has a very powerful effect,” Villareal said. “It’s something that is deeply ingrained in us. I think my pieces operate on a level that looking at a fire does. I’ve described my works several times as ‘digital campfires.’ They’re harnessing that same thing that happens with a fire — the way that it’s pleasant to be near that light.” Future events related to Buckyball include a community bike ride on June 4, and an outdoor screening of the film Contact near the sculpture on July 25. Additional information can be found on Crystal Bridges’ website. About Leo Villareal For more than a decade, Leo Villareal has been a pioneer in the merging of art and innovative light technology. Recently, the debut of the artist’s installation, The Bay Lights, on the San Francisco Bay Bridge received world-wide attention and acclaim. Villareal’s work often reduces forms to basic components — such as pixels or the ones and zeros found in binary code — to better understand their underlying structures and how they function. He then builds these fundamental elements into interactive light installations that move, change and grow into complex compositions in order to explore them on a larger scale. Leo Villareal is known internationally for his light sculptures and site-specific architectural works. His art is part of the permanent collections of prestigious institutions including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Naoshima Contemporary Art Museum, Kagawa, Japan; and the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY.