July 9, 2010

Triune Twists

Standing near the southwest corner of Philadelphia's City Hall, the weathered bronze sculpture has an edge that seems to wind around into a mathematical knot. Its curved surfaces, dedined by the twisty edge, resemble patches of soap film—pieces of minimal surfaces.

Titled The Triune, this bronze is the work of Robert Engman, long a professor of sculpture at the University of Pennsylvania. It is one of several of his artworks that are on public display in Philadelphia.

Located at the center of Miller Plaza on the University of Pennsylvania's campus, Engman's Quadrature #1 flaunts sinuous contours of painted steel against the contrasting rectangular grid of a massive pyramid.

Engman inspired his students to work with mathematical forms and ideas, just as he did in many of his own creations. His work often depicted intersections of minimal forms.

Engman's mobile of cast aluminum, titled After Iyengar, hangs in the lobby of the Chemistry Building at the University of Pennsylvania. It is one of three sculptures he created to honor Indian Yoga master B.K.S. Iyengar.

The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C., has a number of Engman works, including a version of After Iyengar.


Peterson, I. 2001. Fragments of Infinity: A Kaleidoscope of Math and Art. Wiley.

Photos by I. Peterson

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