Kenneth Snelson (June 29, 1927 – December 22, 2016) was an American contemporary sculptor and photographer. His sculptural works are composed of flexible and rigid components arranged according to the idea of ‘tensegrity’.
Snelson preferred the descriptive term floating compression. Snelson was born in Pendleton, Oregon, in 1927. He studied at the University of Oregon in Eugene, at the Black Mountain College, where he was a student of Buckminster Fuller and with Fernand Léger in Paris.
Known as the Father of Tensegrity, Snelson defines tensegrity as “solid elements set in space and supporting each other through tension”. However, he prefers to refer to his work as “floating compression” or “endoskeletal prestressed structures”.
Similar to da Vinci’s self-supporting bridge, Snelson’s artworks rely on the balanced forces of tension and compression to remain standing. The height and strength of Snelson’s sculptures, which are often delicate in appearance, depend on the tension between rigid pipes and flexible cables.
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