This interesting sculpture, apparently, was designed to suggest the looping of lights through space. It may also have been designed to convey the idea of a visual link between music and art. The sculptor used a similar theme; that is, curved welded steel tubing turned into intersecting circles in a half dozen or so other similar works.
The sculptor, Sasson Soffer, was born in Bagdad in 1929. His father was a Jewish scribe so he learned much about drawing and art as a youth. In 1948, war broke out between Israel and their Islamic neighbors, a war whose solution led to the awarding of the Noble peace prize to a man of African-American and Irish ancestry born in Detroit, Ralph Bunche. He was the first black American to win the Noble peace prize. Realizing that it might not be so advisable to be a Jewish individual in Iraq at this time, Sasson Soffer moved to Iran. Later he migrated to New York City. This turned out to be very fortunate. He matriculated at Brooklyn College and studied art with two accomplished artists who were teaching there: sculptor José de Rivera and painter Mark Rothko. Fortunately for Soffer, his training at Brooklyn College and his friendship with de Rivera and Rothko introduced him to the New York art scene. Within a few years, his art was featured in a number of shows in galleries in New York and elsewhere. The sculpture you see pictured on this page was among his first major outside permanent installation. You can also find his sculptures on the campuses of Bard College, Lehman College in the Bronx, at Lincoln Center, at Queens College and at the University of Maine in Augusta. Sasson Soffer died in 2009. About three years before his death, a sculpture garden was established in East Hampton, New York to display his works.
This sculpture was donated to Wayne State by Gilbert Silverman, a Detroit area property developer and his wife, Lila. They also donated to the Detroit Institute of Art. They were supporters of Fluxus Art and established the Gilbert and Lila Silverman Fluxus Collection Foundation. The fluxus theory of art is linked to the idea of composer John Cage and the Lithuanian artist, George Maciunas, ideas espoused and somewhat popular in the 1950s and 1960. This led to the development of several communities of musicians, artists and poets who sought to integrated life into art. For this most part, I think, that they eschewed commercial art. So far as I know, Sasson Soffer was not associated with the Fluxus Art Movement.
The art work was located on the Reuter Mall on Wayne State University's campus from 1970 until 2012 when it was installed on the new Detroit River Walk. I have seen this sculpture identified as Midmiem on websites devoted to the sculptor.
Sculptor: Sasson Soffer
Date of creation of the sculpture:1970
Substance: Welded Stainless Steel
Date of installation on Detroit's River Walk: 2012
Use in 2012: Public art in a very visible location
Website describing public art and sculpture on the Wayne campus: http://www.alumni.wayne.edu/uploaded_pics/pdf/pdf-20090730144045.pdf
Website describing the accomplishments of the artist: http://www.soffer.org/about.html
Website listing the major exhibitions of the artist’s work: http://www.soffer.org/downloads/Soffer_Resume.pdf
Website describing the Detroit River Walk and its art: http://www.detroitriverfront.org/
City of Detroit Local Historic District: Not listed
State of Michigan Registry of Historic Sites: Not listed
National Register of Historic Places: Not listed
Photograph: Ren Farley, August 4, 2012
Description updated: August, 2012
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