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Classification: Sculpture

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Image of Twelve Degrees of Freedom

R. Buckminster Fuller (aka Buckminster Fuller)
American, 1895–1983

Twelve Degrees of Freedom


Object Type: Sculpture
19 1/2 in. x 24 in. x 24 in. (49.53 cm x 60.96 cm x 60.96 cm)
Medium and Support: Chrome and stainless steel wire
Accession Number: 1998.0002.0002

Credit Line: Gift of Yousuf and Estrellita Karsh

Fuller is best known for his Dymaxion (i.e., dynamic maximum tension) house and car, and for popularizing the geodesic dome, an efficient but often leaky structure designed and built through application of the synergistic principle of tensegrity—the balance of forces of tension (cables) and compression (rods) that the artist patented. That 1962 patent defines tensegrity as “the physical phenomenon that produces a stable geometric structure with solid members that are arranged in tandem with tense metal cables. The solid members of this system do not touch or support each other directly.” The spare beauty of the principle of tensegrity is aptly demonstrated in "Twelve Degrees of Freedom", one of three sculptures in an edition of ten that Fuller created on the occasion of his 1983 receipt of the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Ronald Reagan.

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