Yellow Roller

DeWain Valentine
Yellow Roller
Color-impregnated polyester resin and fiberglass, 1974
38 x 71 x 37 inches
Gift of Herbert Hirsh, from the Estate of Pauline Hirsh
1988.017

In the late 1970s, DeWain Valentine created remarkable large-scale resin sculptures with all the attributes of the immersive light installations of his Light and Space colleagues.

Yellow Roller is from an earlier LA Finish Fetish series that is less about atmosphere or the instability of light and space and more about creating a sculptural presence that is light-hearted and buoyant. It is less about mass or the lack thereof and more about surface and allusion. Valentine’s series makes oblique references to such whimsy as large spinning tops or perhaps space ships. It is more aggressively Pop in its outlook but no less elegant than the artist’s later signature Light and Space works. All of Valentine’s work exhibits the same mastery of plastics and resins.

Yellow Roller is hollow and meant to sit on the floor without a pedestal. It is airbrushed with a dazzling finish—a quintessential expression of the hot rod exuberance described in “Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby,” a collection of essays by Tom Wolfe in which he discusses Southern California car culture among other low-brow subcultures.

Playing on the conventions of the custom car culture and its attendant hi-keyed, reflective, and often garish sense of razzle dazzle, Valentine applies a fun-house carnivalesque sensibility to sculpture. Yellow Roller drives Finish Fetish to its ultimate Pop limits.