Antoine Pevsner (1886-1962)

Image of Antoine Pevsner's Construction in Space sculptureConstructed 1962
Installed 1964

Bronze
Height: 288 in. (731.5 cm)
Weight: 3 tons

Located at Laird Bell Law Quadrangle
1111 E. 60th Street

Gift from Alex L. Hillman, '24

Artist Profile

 
 

 

 

 

“In discussing the construction he gave to the University, New Yorker Alex Hillman, a graduate of Chicago forty years ago, has described it as ‘the conquest of a poetic vision.’ Pevsner, he says, ‘liberated us from mass.’"
Katharine Kuh, Saturday Review, July 25, 1964


When Finnish–American architect Eero Saarinen designed a new building complex for the University of Chicago Law School in the 1950s, he suggested that a work by Antoine Pevsner would complement the quadrangle well. Saarinen’s wish wouldn’t be fulfilled until after both his death and Pevsner’s (in 1961 and 1962, respectively), when a large–scale bronze cast of Construction in Space and in the Third and Fourth Dimensions was gifted to the University by an alumnus in 1963 and installed in 1964. Pevsner, a Russian–born Constructivist artist, made this work explicitly to evoke the passage of space–time, as the title indicates. The twisting bronze material seems to radiate in different directions, and a viewer moving around the sculpture in time may notice the changing aspects of its thin, angular planes and of its hyperbolic curves.

Saarinen, as it turns out, made an excellent design judgment. Pevsner’s ties to Constructivism, with its emphasis on well–engineered approaches to material and form, enrich Saarinen’s functional approach to modern architecture. The bronze Construction's linear striations and hard edges resonate with the Law Library façade’s alternating angled panes of glass. The arcs of the sculpture also recall the natural features of the reflecting pool; on a typically windy day in Chicago, ripples on the surface of the pool eddy around the work’s base. All three of these elements—the library, the sculpture, and the pool that reflects them both—are in close conversation with one another, and the benches surrounding this area offer several points of entry for a viewer to join in.

 

Written by Will Ulman, a student in Art History

 

Related Links

architecture.uchicago.edu


Sources

Kuh, Katharine. “Fresh Breezes in the Windy City.” Saturday Review 25 July 1964.

Mordfin, Robin I. “Building a Future on a Strong Foundation.” The Record Online (University of Chicago Law Alumni Magazine), Fall 2009.


Further Reading

Bach, Ira J. and Mary Lackritz Gray. A Guide to Chicago's Public Sculpture. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 1983.


Archival Materials

Photograph of the Law School building and sculpture

Source: University of Chicago Photographic Archive, apf2-04918, Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library.

Aerial photograph of the sculpture and fountain

Source: University of Chicago Photographic Archive, apf2-04922, Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library.

Photograph of the sculpture's dedication

Source: University of Chicago Photographic Archive, apf2-04968, Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library.

Image of the sculpture from four different angles

Source: LUNA Library, UChicago Public Art Collection and Archive