In association with Hudson Hills Press
Text by Eleanor Heartney
11x12, hardcover, French fold, on heavy art paper
242 b&w and color plates.
Includes limited edition DVD.
MEET Kenneth Snelson
Advance copy book signing
Thursday, March 19 6:30PM
545 25th St., NYC
This event coincides with the exhibition
Kenneth Snelson, Selected Work: 1948-2009 currently on view at the Marlborough Gallery through March 21, 2009.
Forces Made Visible
Essay by Eleanor Heartney
Text and artworks by Kenneth Snelson
Kenneth Snelson’s sculptures are familiar presences in public
plazas and museum galleries around the world. Composed of steel or
aluminum tubes held together with tension wires, they defy gravity
while assuming intricate and evocative configurations that seem to
extend impossibly into space. This profusely illustrated overview
of Snelson’s remarkable five decade career reveals that these
sculptures are simply the best known manifestation of his lifelong
exploration of the structures of nature. Snelson has also been
engaged for many years in a dialogue with physicists and
mathematicians over the structure of the atom and has used his own
elegant solution to the problems posed by quantum mechanics to
create sculptural models and beautiful digital images. And, he has
explored the shape of visual space with sweeping photographic
panoramas of urban landscapes.
needle tower, 1958
The definitive volume on the life, work and processes of this important American artist and innovator, Kenneth Snelson: Forces Made Visible follows the artist’s
trajectory from a childhood in Pendleton, Oregon where he was
consumed by a passion for model making and tinkering, to his
formative encounter as a young man with Buckminster Fuller at Black
Mountain College, and on to his discovery of the principle of
“tensegrity” which informs his sculptures and his investigations of
atomic structure. Comprised of photo essays which track Snelson’s
artistic and personal development and his working process, as well
as an analytical text by Eleanor Heartney and pages of plates
representing his sculptures, his three dimensional and digital
models of the atom and his panoramic photographs, this book offers
a full rounded portrait of a man who has been charged with having
“designs on the universe.”
Kenneth Snelson’s large-scale sculpture is a familiar presence in public plazas and museum galleries worldwide. Composed of metal tubes held together with tension wires, they defy gravity while assuming intricate and evocative configurations that seem to extend impossibly into space.
This richly illustrated overview of Snelson’s remarkable five-decade career details a lifelong exploration of the structures of nature-- and the nature of structure. Its major sections explore in depth the several avenues of expression that he has pursued in this exploration. In addition to sculpture, his dramatic panoramic landscape photographs, as well as his pioneering digital imagery, are richly illustrated.
Snelson’s preoccupations encompass both the macro and micro realms. He has been engaged for many years in a dialogue with physicists and mathematicians over the structure of the atom. The product of this inquiry, his conceptualization of the Snelson Atom and its many manifestations in two-and three-dimensional mediums, has put him in a unique and sometimes controversial position at the juncture of art and science.
As author Eleanor Heartney observes in her essay, the artist’s body of work is ultimately all of a piece: “Snelson expresses his vision of a universe in which interconnection is all.”
Forces Made Visible incorporates a DVD produced by Kenneth Snelson, featuring his own short computer animations, as well as videos documenting the creation and installation of major Snelson sculptures.
Born in Pendleton, Oregon in 1927, Kenneth Snelson graduated from the University of Oregon and served in the US Navy in World War II. After the war he enrolled at Black Mountain College in North Carolina where he studied with Josef Albers and encountered Buckminster Fuller. In 1951 Snelson studied with Léger at the Academie Montmartre in Paris and by 1960 created his first large-scale works whereby he entered a new, innovative artistic territory. He lives and works in New York.
Snelson has received numerous honors and awards among which are the following: New York State Council on the Arts Sculpture, 1971; American Institutes of Architects’ Medal, 1981; Honorary Doctorate, Arts and Humane Letters, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY, 1985; American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters Art Award, 1987; Membership, American Academy of Arts and Letters, 1994; Lifetime Achievement Award, International Sculpture Center, Hamilton, NJ, 1999; The Elizabeth N. Watrous Prize, National Academy of Design, New York, NY, 2002.
His work can be found in public and corporate collections all over the world, including: The Art Institute of Chicago, IL; Dallas Museum of Fine Art, TX; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY; The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; Rijksmuseum Kroller-Muller, Otterlo, Holland; Rijksmuseum Staedelijk, Amsterdam, Holland; Shiga Museum of Modern Art, Japan; Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN and The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.
Eleanor Heartney, a contributing editor for Art in America and Artpress, is an independent cultural critic living in New York. She is co-president of the American Section of the International Art Critics Association.
“Not only has he inspired a new field of engineering and a new understanding of cellular biology, his elegant sculptures are themselves scientific wonders. Their shiny metal rods, held together by networks of tensed aluminum wires, climb into the air at improbable angles, with an apparent disregard for gravity.”
- Elisabeth Eaves, Slate Magazine