KENNETH SNELSON, E.C. Tower, 2006, is on loan for exhibition to the Pratt Institute. The sculpture is sited on the campus directly in front of the Myrtle Hall.
This work is a prime example of one of Snelson's tensegrity structures, a word created by the philosopher Buckminster Fuller to describe Snelson's structural innovation by combining the words "tension" and "integrity." That combination manifests itself here in webs of stainless steel tubes and cables that are held in highly stressed, structural arrangements through the push-pull balance of compressive forces in the tubes and tension forces in the cables. If Max Bill, the artist and Bauhaus teacher, was right when he claimed that art can greatly evolve from the basis of mathematical thought, then one could assert that the theory and practice by which Snelson has developed his art is the ideal amalgam of science and art, of breathtaking engineering and visionary structural and design purity.
Born in Pendleton, Oregon in 1927, 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.