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Tall Tale (San Diego, 1976)

by Kenneth Snelson

photo of sculpture by Kenneth Snelson
Photo courtesy of Kenneth Snelson

December 8, 2005, I received this photo of the installed version of Kenneth Snelson's Tall Tale sculpture. My memory is that viewed face on it's similar to three three-prisms linked together side by side. It struck me as a center prism holding up two prisms, one on either side. The much smaller version that I saw in a case at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, was apparently a maquette for this.

Having read my recollections, Ken writes:

I didn't happen to develop it from three-strut modules even though it might look so. Don't know if it would end up looking the same if I had started out from the other approach. Often there are more ways than one to approach or analyze a configuration. "Tall Tale" because of its shape I've sometimes spelled it "Tall Tail" -- high at one end -- just as "Curve Throne" is often written "Curve Thrown". In any case "Tall Tale" was among a group of X-Module pieces I have in a folder labeled "walking pieces" -- like legs walking -- and the forms came from emphasizing verticality in all x-modules. Sometimes there's an extra member inserted in the last module which probably makes it more confusing.
I get the feeling he's prone to puns. When I saw Tall Tale, X-Modules weren't even part of my vocabulary, but now that he mentions it, when elongated they do resemble walking figures. So now I'll think in terms of Duchamp's Nu descendant un escalier, or Edward Muybridge's or Thomas Eakins' movement photography. Ken kindly sends along the following photographs out of the "walking pieces" folder:

photo of Tall Tale in Snelson workshop
Easter Monday In Studio 1976
       photo of Snelson sculpture installation
Tall Tail Installation, San Diego, 1975

photo portrait of stainless-steel Snelson sculpture indoors
Greene Street III, 1975

photo of multi-colored Snelson sculpture outdoors on a lawn
Audrey II, 1966

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