Rockne Krebs: Drawings for Sculpture You Can Walk Through
Lawrence, KS, August 23, 2013 – This fall, the Spencer Museum of Art will exhibit works of art by pioneering, Kansas City-born laser artist Rockne Krebs (1938-2011), whose large-scale, site-specific installations, often spanning entire urban landscapes, were created using the ephemeral media of laser and natural light choreographed through the careful use of prisms, mirrors, and electronic controls.
What remains of Krebs’ transitory projects are the artist’s drawings as well as his written and photographic documentation. In 2010, Philip M. Smith, a member of the scientific community who has long been sensitive to the significance of Krebs’ accomplishments, gave the Spencer Museum of Art an important group of works by the artist, including eighteen drawings and one Plexiglas sculpture. Rockne Krebs: Drawings for Sculpture You Can Walk Through shares all of these works alongside a work previously owned by the Museum, with accompanying supporting materials. The title for this exhibition comes from the words of the artist himself, who described his 1970 installation at the World’s Fair in Osaka, Japan as “a piece of sculpture that one could physically move through.”
On occasion, Krebs created light projects for interior spaces, but more often they were staged out of doors at night, to be experienced on a vast urban scale. In 1983, Krebs realized a work titled The Green Hypotenuse that incorporated a seven-mile laser beam extending from the Mount Wilson Observatory in the mountains outside Los Angeles to the campus of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. A critic referred to one of Krebs’ earlier works as an “Electric Fog-Filled Happening.” In 1989, when the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, cancelled an exhibition of Robert Mapplethorpe photographs, it was Krebs who proposed and realized the idea of projecting works from the planned exhibition onto the façade of the Corcoran.
Krebs was born in Kansas City, Missouri and studied at the University of Kansas where he worked with Eldon Tefft and ceramicist Sheldon Carry. He received a BFA in sculpture in 1961. After serving in the U.S. Navy, Krebs started down the path that led to his first experiments with lasers in 1967. He received awards from such revered institutions as the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the MIT Center for Advanced Visual Studies, among others. Krebs’ works have been exhibited in Washington, DC, Chicago, Buffalo, New Orleans, and Osaka, Japan. His commissioned works have enlivened the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, and the Mall in Washington, DC.
Rockne Krebs: Drawings for Sculpture You Can Walk Through opens at the Spencer Museum of Art in Lawrence, Kansas on Saturday, August 31, 2013. Up Close with Steve Goddard: Drawings for Sculpture You Can Walk Through, a curatorial tour of the exhibition, is scheduled for 5:30-6:30 PM Thursday, September 19. To stay up to date on programming, visit the Spencer Museum online atspencerart.ku.edu.