La Monte Young   Marian Zazeela


Music and Light Box (1967-68)


The Whitney Museum of American Art


Summer of Love: Art of the Psychedelic Era

on view May 24, 2007 - September 16, 2007


Young & Zazeela Installation in Summer of Love: Art of the Psychedelic Era



This installation of the "Music and Light Box" from 1967-68 by La Monte Young and Marian Zazeela is an entrancing precursor of the larger scale sound and light environments premiered in 1969 with their Dream House at Galerie Heiner Friedrich, Munich.  Offering an alternative perspective to the more flashy, sensory bombardment of the psychedelic experience then in vogue, this small, dark space inhabited by the mysterious sound of sine waves tuned to the frequency ratio 64:63 and the ultraviolet illuminated, intricately patterned black cube draws the observer on an inward journey.  The path of contemplation and meditation is introduced with the fusion of sound, light, space and time. 


Inspired in part by the concept of the traditional music box playing a composed work, the sculpture was realized by Young and Zazeela through a commission in 1967 from Betty Freeman, the California arts patron, collector and photographer.  First shown in January 1968 at the Pasadena Art Museum, the “Music and Light Box” was then exhibited in “The Machine As Seen At The End of The Mechanical Age” in 1968-69 at the Museum of Modern Art, Rice University Institute for the Arts and the San Francisco Museum of Art. 


The Whitney press release states:  "Summer of Love revisits the unprecedented explosion of contemporary art and popular culture brought about by the civil unrest and pervasive social change of the 1960s and early 70s, when a new psychedelic aesthetic emerged in art, music, film, architecture, graphic design, and fashion. The exhibition includes paintings, photographs and sculptures by Isaac Abrams, Richard Avedon, Lynda Benglis, Richard Hamilton, Jimi Hendrix (his only known watercolor), Robert Indiana, Yayoi Kusama, Richard Lindner, and John McCracken, among others, as well as a rich selection of important posters, album covers and underground magazines. A special emphasis is placed on environments as well as on film, video and multimedia installations, including works by Jordan Belson, Stan Vanderbeek, James Whitney, and La Monte Young and Marian Zazeela. The exhibition includes films of performances and light shows, and spotlights places such as the UFO nightclub in London and the Human Be-In in San Francisco, featuring Allen Ginsberg and Timothy Leary. Organized by Tate Liverpool and originally presented there, the show has toured to the Kunsthalle Schirn Frankfurt and the Kunsthalle Wien."


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