Reconstruction of Proto-Tensegrity Sculpture by Karlis Johansons
With this project I aimed to draw attention to the remarkable heritage
of Karlis Johansons and help others learn about its design. I reconstructed
the original sculpture and filmed the
process on the video.
Karlis Johansons is the inventor of self-tension kinetic sculptures. Later the same design principle was named 'Tensegrity' (tension + integrity) by Robert Buckminster Fuller in 1955. Even if little acknowledged by art historians work of Karlis Johansons was referenced by László Moholy-Nagy. Karlis Johansons was a member of the Constructivist art movement and he was the first who created self-tension sculptures and presented them at the museum in 1921.
He presented nine sculptures at the exhibition in Moscow and at the MoMA, New York 1921. There is no other proof of his invention besides photographs from the exhibitions. His destiny remains unknown after Constructivist artists were subjected to repressions a few years later. Photographs on my website depict a reconstructed Karlis Johansons sculpture. Steel cables were chosen, because they were used originally. Designs of tensegrity structures were developed later and they can be seen in art and architecture worldwide.
*Tensegrity - a structural principle based on a system of isolated components under compression inside a network of continuous tension, and arranged in such a way that the compressed members (usually bars or struts) do not touch each other while the prestressed tensioned members (usually cables or tendons) delineate the system spatially. It applies when a discontinuous set of compression elements is opposed and balanced by a continuous tensile force, thereby creating an internal prestress that stabilizes the entire structure.