Kenneth Snelson 1927–2016

Kenneth Snelson pioneered an entirely new method of sculpture that combined extraordinary feats of engineering with geometrically dynamic forms. Snelson, born in Pendleton, Oregon in 1927, was interested in aerodynamics and built models of planes as a young child. In 1945, he enlisted in the Navy to fight in World War II where he became a radio technician. After the war, Snelson studied painting at the University of Oregon on the G.I. Bill. In 1948, Snelson attended a summer session at the famed Black Mountain College where he studied color theory under Josef Albers. While at Black Mountain, a substitute lecture given by futurist architect Buckminster Fuller captured the imagination of the young Snelson. Experimenting with the limits of three-dimensional sculpture, Snelson began to make structures that employed geometry to create suspended arrangements. In 1964, he crafted an enormous sculpture for the New York World’s Fair called Photonium which was displayed at the Court of Light.