Jene Highstein (1942-2013)

Image of Jene Highstein's Truncated Pyramid sculpture in the Smart Museum garden

Created: 1989
Installed: 1992

Carved marble
Height: 66 in. (167.6 cm)

Located in the Vera and A. D. Elden Sculpture Garden at The Smart Museum
5550 S. Greenwood Avenue

Purchase, Gift of The Smart Family Foundation in memory of Dana Feitler

Artist Profile




Gifted in 1992 by the Smart Family Foundation, Jene Highstein’s Truncated Pyramid was the first work of art by a former University of Chicago student to be placed in the Smart Museum of Art’s Vera and A. D. Elden Sculpture Garden. The imperfectly shaped, white marble structure with faded pink striations bleeding down the sides of the work juts out of the grassy area around it, achieving a height slightly over five and a half feet.

Truncated Pyramid is one of two Highstein pieces located on the University of Chicago campus. Unlike the other, Black Sphere, which addresses the issue of space and mass as a function of construction (in which a hollow center is hidden by an overwhelming black mass), Truncated Pyramid explores mass as a form of removal. The large, two–ton piece of marble was cut from a larger stone, not carved into a polished form like the familiar tradition of Roman and Grecian marble sculptures. The imperfect, rough, horizontal cuts that run parallel along the surface of the 66–inch pyramid both maintain and transform the marble. The cuts minimize the amount of interruption to the object’s form and reveal a dense, solid core of a truncated (cut) pyramid. However, they also create a sense of fluidity and lightness that is not normally associated with rough, heavy stone. The piece counters our associations of mass as weight and instead introduces mass as an inversion; the cuts along the piece completely transform the solid marble structure to evoke lightness.


Written by Vanessa Farante, 2016


Related Events

There are no related events. Visit the events calendar to search for upcoming events.

Related News

Related Links

Vera and A.D. Elden Sculpture Garden at the Smart Museum of Art


Cassidy, Victor M. Sculptors At Work: Interviews about the creative process. North Carolina: McFarland & Company, 2011

Highstein, Jene. Jene Highstein – New Sculpture: October 21-November 24, 2004. New York: Anthony Grant Inc., 2004

Further Reading

Bold Sculpture for Wide Open Spaces (NyTimes, July 1989)

Interview with Jene Highstein (BOMB magazine, summer 1983)

Archival Materials

Chicago Tribune mention of the installation of Truncated Pyramid