MONA Presents Work of Larry Albright

Among the many items showcased in the exhibit Larry Albright: A Great Magic Truth are miniature neon set pieces.
Photo provided by MONA

The Museum of Neon Art (MONA) presents Larry Albright: A Great Magic Truth, an exhibition celebrating the legacy of artist, inventor and pop-culture force Larry Albright. The exhibition contains plasma sculptures, consumer electronics, miniature neon set pieces and film clips from Albright’s work in movies such as “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” “Star Wars,” “Star Trek,” “Blade Runner,” “The Goonies” and more. Albright’s distinctive artistic style bridged the gap between the Light and Space Movement, assemblage and pop culture in the 1970s through 2000s. A Great Magic Truth exemplifies the interconnectedness of art and science, and celebrates how humans can manipulate matter in a way that transcends time and space to create new realities. The exhibition will be on display March 29 through Sept. 8. The opening will take place from 6-8 p.m. on Friday, March 29 and is free to the public.  

The vessels showcased in this exhibition contain the same gasses Albright filled them with over 30 years ago. Visitors will experience the magnitude of Albright’s accomplishments through many artworks that have not been seen publicly in decades. This exhibition shares a body of work recently donated to MONA by the Larry W. Albright and Helen R. Albright Living Trust in support of the museum’s ongoing efforts to educate about neon and plasma arts as well as its foundational practitioners. 

“I think MONA is the perfect match to receive the works of my late husband and noted godfather of neon art,” said Helen Albright. 

Larry Albright (1932-2022) was an artist, inventor and pioneer of special effects lighting. His influence on pop culture, technology and plasma arts has shaped how many imagine the past and envisions the future. Born in the small town of Independence, Kansas, Albright’s fearless curiosity led him to study photography with Ansel Adams to become a pilot and an active member of the Tesla Coil Building Society, the Microscopical Society of Southern California, and a Citizen Band Radio devotee. When Albright came across a 1930s neon crackle tube clock over 60 years ago, he set off on a self-directed quest to learn glassblowing and plasma-filling.

Albright’s fantastical artworks integrated new technology, turn of the 20th-century equipment and cutting-edge innovation. They illuminated Disney Parks, Hard Rock Cafés the windows of Macy’s, and science centers around the world. Albright’s explorations resulted in many innovations. He earned five patents and designed consumer electronics like “Eye of the Storm” and “White Lightning,” which brought the mystery and science of plasma illumination into the home.

Albright’s work was collected by Michael Jackson and Albright also designed an LED suit for Jackson to wear in concert. When Larry Albright passed away, many of his unrecorded innovations and discoveries were lost forever; however, his spirit and curiosity lives on. 

“Plasma is the most common state of matter in the universe but relatively uncommon on earth. Larry Albright was able to bring the cosmic to our fingertips. His contributions in consumer electronics, art and special effects continue to reverberate through culture. We are honored to share his legacy with future generations,” said MONA Executive Director Corrie Siegel.