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Maquette for Mozart I
Kenneth Snelson studied painting and drawing at the Corcoran School of Art and the University of Oregon. In 1948 he enrolled at Black Mountain College in North Carolina, where his teacher, Joseph Albers, observed Snelson’s facility for three-dimensional art and encouraged him in that direction. Snelson’s latent interest in structure was reinforced by the influence of the architect Buckminster Fuller, who joined the Black Mountain College faculty later that summer. Fuller is known for his geodesic domes and other self-supporting structures.
Snelson’s sculptures utilize metal tubes and steel cables to create forms shaped by balancing tension and compression. The pull of the steel cable is resisted by the push of the steel pipes, which do not touch each other and would tumble into a pile if the wires were cut. The finished products are lyrical, open-form works that suggest suspension bridges, intricate kite frames, and, for Snelson, music. He states, “The wires and metal tubes are my keyboard, on which I play my three dimensional spatial game. I have developed something like a musical scale.” The Snite’s sculpture, appropriately titled Mozart I, is a maquette for a larger sculpture of the same title and date in the collection of Stanford University.
from Snite Museum of Art, Selected Works: Snite Museum of Art (Notre Dame, 2005)