Robert Engman’s sculpture, which emulates a Möbius strip, was previously suspended from the dome in the Barker Library, and is scheduled to be re-installed in Vassar Street Residence Hall in late 2020.
In a 2009 letter from the artist to public art curator Patricia Fuller, he writes: “That particular piece started off essentially with three interlocking circles along a major axis. Each of the circles is 120-degrees from one another along that axis and rotates 120-degrees from each other. Each of these circles intersects the other two, approximately one third of the diameter of each circle. Along the axis halfway the length of the three circles, is a fourth circle perpendicular to that axis and in the center of the configuration. After these four spatial limits were established along the axis, I developed four minimal surfaces dictated by these limits and assembled them as such. The interesting thing for me about this stuff is that it is not in its final form a minimal surfaced configuration, but rather an assemblage of four minimal surfaced configurations which are identical and which become united and continuous by a fifth central minimal configuration joining the four previous minimal surfaced configurations. There is no other way that this final form can be arrived at. I have had it pointed out to me that these forms cannot be conceived of within the field of mathematics. They can be described mathematically after they have been arrived at but they cannot be conceived of through any other system than that of the giving of substance to thought.”
Robert Engman (1927–2018) was born in Belmont, Massachusetts. He received his BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1952 and in the following two years, earned two MFA degrees at Yale University, where he studied under Joseph Albers. He taught at Yale from 1954 to 1963, and later served as Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in Sculpture at the University of Pennsylvania. His work has been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, New Yor; the Museum of Fine Art, Boston; the Whitney Museum, New York; the Guggenheim Museum, New York; and the Hirschhorn Museum in Washington, DC.