On view

American, 1920–1992
Untitled, 1972
Aluminum and stainless steel
20 ft. x 25 ft. 4 in. x 16 ft. (609.6 x 772.2 x 487.7 cm)
Purchased with the aid of funds from the National Endowment for the Arts and gift of the Ralph E. Ogden Foundation. ©Estate of David von Schlegell
Photo by Jerry L. Thompson

David von Schlegell’s three-part work at the base of Museum Hill is one of the first sculptures that Storm King’s founders commissioned. Designed specifically for its current site, it is comprised of a series of delicate, open cubes and reaches twenty feet into the air. From a ground-level view, the thin metallic legs are barely perceptible, so that the squares seem to hover in space; seen from the hill above, the cubes appear to rest on the ground. Von Schlegell intended the work to be contingent on its natural setting, elemental phenomena, and the viewer’s perspective. As he noted, “These pieces have a specific alignment relative to the earth. Reflecting light, they change with the earth’s time and with the flux of its weather. They force a particular awareness of the most basic element of nature, the sun.”

Von Schlegell was an engineer before he became an artist, working for Douglas Aircraft in the 1940s. He brought his engineering expertise to bear on his sculptural production, employing industrial materials—aluminum, stainless steel, and wood—and construction methods in the creation of his streamlined, abstract works. As he observed, “All the years of my youth I was obsessed with the lucid structures of boats and airplanes…. They had a clarity and an economy…. I find myself still obsessed by mechanical structures. They possess a kinesthetic resonance, also a resonance with geometric frameworks of the mind.”