Kenneth Snelson

Kenneth Snelson, born in 1927 Pendleton, Oregon, U.S.A., is a great contemporary sculptor in the United States. He used to study in University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon; Black Mountain College, Black Mountain, N.C.; Fernand Leger, Paris. His works are found in any portfolio of urban landscape sculpture: delicate structures of stainless steel rods deliver spectacular visual effects that grace city public spaces and present the calm of nature.

Snelson’s sculptures focus on basic structure of the physical world and physical forms in 3D space - energy and motion. By combining mathematical logic with illusion, he conveys the image of both particle and universe.

The digital sculptures for 2008 Digital Stone Exhibition in China are speculations on atomic structure, on which Snelson has been working for 48 years. With their interstices and (suggested) spheres within spheres, Kenneth Snelson’s atomic models, especially Dark Matter (2008) and Holding Pattern (2008) evoke the Contrefaitkugeln made in ivory and wood by seventeenth-century European maestros.

The polar coordinate symmetry or balance above can be viewed as mathematical essence of the universe. It usually appears as a basic structure and basic principle of the structure, and then expands endlessly based on the basic structure and the basic principle. The oldest and most mysterious version of this model can be found in diagrams of Luoshu and Yijing in ancient China. For example, Luoshu Jiugong (which means 3X3 grids).

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My art is concerned with nature in its most fundamental aspect: the organization of physical forces in three dimensional space. My large outdoor steel network sculptures as well as my model of the atom’s architecture in its multimedia forms represent my interest in natural forces and their endlessly varied structural order. Most recently, I have made stone sculptures in China that transpose the atom’s geometry into nested spheres of granite.

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