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Galaxy: A Hundred or So Stars Visible to the Naked Eye

Vassilakis Takis and Edward Krasinski: Gravity and Magnetism

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Vassilakis Takis: Tableau Magnetique, c. 1962–63; canvas, metal rods, ferrules, and magnet; 13 x 16 1/4 x 10 5/12 in.; gift of the Robert Elkon Gallery.


Edward Krasinski: Perpendiculars in Space, 1964; wood and wire; 39 1/2 x 48 in.; gift of Howard Lipman.


“The only vision I ever had of magnetism was during a conversation with Takis in Paris in his studio, looking at his little metal cones hummingly waveringly pulled by like wires straight at their little magnet feathers; and he, Takis, explained to me that the stars were all pulled together with myriad thin invisible wires of magnetism radiating from every star to every other star—so we imagined, if you pulled out any one star the whole thrumming mechanism would slip a cosmic inch like a quavering mobile and all twang together into place at once on lines of unseen magnetic tracks, thunk.”—Allen Ginsberg, 1962

On view in the upper reaches of Galaxy, at the back of Gallery 6—near the freight elevator in which sound for the first Star Wars film was once recorded—a pair of constructivist sculptures by Vassilakis Takis (b. 1925) and Edward Krasinski (1925–2004) resonates with galactic themes of gravity and magnetism.

One might say the force is with Takis’s Tableau Magnetique (c. 1962–63). By attaching wires to metal cones and facing them toward a magnet positioned on the back of a black canvas, Takis created a “communication” in the magnetic field between the metals. The cones levitate above the plane of the canvas, held by the invisible pull of the unseen magnet. The artist observed, “The vibration is perpetual. What interested me was to put into iron sculpture a new, continuous, and live force. The result was in no way a graphic representation of a force but the force itself.”

Gravity is evoked in Krasinski’s Perpendiculars in Space (1964), in which nineteen wooden rods—painted in shades of white to dark gray with a slight red accent—are suspended upright by a wire in front of a wall that has been painted black. Hung in this way, the rods appear to be floating in space. A curious element of the sculpture is a small red peg mounted to the floor of the gallery. While researching this work, exhibition curator and BAM/PFA Director Lawrence Rinder discovered he had come upon something rare. Krasinski expert Andrzej Przywara of the Foksal Gallery in Warsaw told Rinder, “I am thrilled to see this. . . . I thought that there is only one type of such a work, and that it is with Krasinski’s daughter in Zalesie. It is a twin work to the one that was presented on Krasinski’s first solo exhibition in Krzysztofory Gallery in 1965 in Krakow.” Such synchronicity is another of the relative forces at play in the energy field that binds the galaxy, and this exhibition, together.

Stephanie Cannizzo
Curatorial Associate