Water, Ice, and Fire (1973)

by Robinson Fredenthal (1940 - 2009)

Photo Caption: Photo Alec Rogers © 2014 for the Association for Public Art
  • Title

    Water, Ice, and Fire

  • Artist

    Robinson Fredenthal (1940 - 2009)

  • Year

    1973

  • Location

    1234 Market Street (interior and exterior)

  • Medium

    Welded weathering steel

  • Dimensions

    Water: height 48′; width 12′; depth 12′ Ice: height 28′; width 12′; depth 12′ Fire: height 16′; width 12′; depth 12′

Commissioned by the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority

Owned by the City of Philadelphia

At A Glance

  • Three related steel sculptures based on linked tetrahedrons and octahedrons

  • The artist suggests that his sculpture should not be “viewed as an object,” rather it is about “a feeling that’s the result of an experience”

  • Water extends upward from the basement level to the ceiling of the central lobby, Ice hangs like an angular icicle, and Fire loosely resembles a flame surging upward

Water, Ice, Fire sculpture
Photo © Association for Public Art

Robinson Fredenthal has long been fascinated by the mysterious patterns made by simple geometric objects when they are joined together, turned at new angles, or revolved through space. Despite his formal use of geometry, the artist suggests that his sculpture should not be “viewed as an object.” Rather, it is about “a feeling that’s the result of an experience.”

At 1234 Market Street, under the auspices of the Redevelopment Authority’s Percent for Art Program, Fredenthal created three related steel sculptures based on linked tetrahedrons and octahedrons. Water, the largest of the three columns, extends upward from the basement level to the ceiling of the central lobby. Though from some angles it suggests a waterfall, the column changes its appearance as the viewer moves around it. Ice hangs like an angular icicle over the indoor subway entrance at the 13th Street corner. Fire, the smallest of the works, stands in the courtyard behind the building, loosely resembling a flame surging upward. Other Fredenthal works in the city include White Water in a courtyard at 5th and Market Streets and Black Forest on the University of Pennsylvania campus at 34th and Walnut.

Adapted from Public Art in Philadelphia by Penny Balkin Bach (Temple University Press, Philadelphia, 1992).

 

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