American, born Greece, 1933-2013

Large Bird Shape

Chryssa (American, born Greece, 1933–2013). Large Bird Shape, 1973–75. Neon and Plexiglas, 18 x 36 x 5 inches (45.7 x 91.4 x 12.7 cm). Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York; Gift of Frank L. Gentile, 1982 (1982:45). © Estate of Chryssa.

© Estate of Chryssa

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Large Bird Shape, 1973-1975

Artwork Details


neon and Plexiglas


overall: 18 x 36 x 5 inches (45.72 x 91.44 x 12.7 cm)

Collection Buffalo AKG Art Museum


Gift of Frank L. Gentile, 1982

Accession ID


Chryssa is credited as the first artist to incorporate neon into a work of art. She was largely inspired by the pervasive advertising and sensorial overload of New York, and some of her earliest sculptures include partial or whole neon letters she encountered on broken signs in Times Square. From this, the artist executed a series of neon forms that took their rounded shapes from small portions of letters. The final imagery of many of these studies reminded Chryssa of a bird in flight, and she went on to create a series of works that evoke this theme. In sculptures such as Large Bird Shape, she was specifically drawn to the ways in which the reflection from the neon interacted with the surface of the box. Here, the colored light is encased in a smoky gray shell to evoke a nocturnal feeling and further emphasize the neon’s haloed glow.

Label from Menagerie: Animals on View, March 11–June 4, 2017

Other Works by This Artist