09.26.21: Skyscrapers in the sun

Cubed Curve sculpture and surrounding skyscrapers catch rays from the morning sun in New York City.

Cubed Curve sculpture and buildings, Sixth Avenue and W 50th St., New York City.

Finding a new angle to view a favorite sculpture

Tech specs

  • Date/time: Sep 5, 2015 10:09 AM   
  • Camera: Canon EOS 7D Mark II
  • Lens: EF-S10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM 
  • Focal length: 10mm
  • Aperture: f/8
  • Shutter: 1/200 second
  • ISO: 100

When I’m walking in New York City with my camera I’m looking for interesting scenes to photograph at street level.

But I always take time to look up.

My wife and I were on a walk in New York City on a September morning in 2015 when we passed what was, for years, one of my favorite sculptures found in a public setting, Cubed Curve. The sculpture sat on the corner of Sixth Avenue and West 50th Street, outside the Time-Life Building.

As always, I stopped to get some shots, looking for an angle I hadn’t found during many other visits to the location. As I looked up I saw the morning sun streaming between buildings. I knew I could frame the scene so the sun’s rays would be visible in the photo so I dropped to one knee, angled the camera up so the surrounding buildings would be angled in and Cubed Curve would be in the lower left, then grabbed some shots.

I liked how it turned out. (By the way, that’s the top of the marquee for Radio City Music Hall in the lower right corner of the photo.)

I mentioned that Cubed Curve was one of my favorite sculptures. The blue metal structure is appropriately named. It’s a giant curve (think of the horseshoe-shaped magnets we had as kids) that has had its “legs” bent into additional curves so the entire object forms a cube. The sculpture looks different from various positions around the cube and the flow of curves in the sculpture provides interesting angles to photograph. 

Cubed Curve was created by New York-born artist William Crovello,  commissioned by the Association for a Better New York and installed in 1972.

But Cubed Curve has left the city … and the state. The Rockefeller Group, owner of the Time-Life Building, removed the sculpture in 2016 as part of a renovation of the building and its surroundings. 

Two years later, in 2018, the 12-foot high, 3,500-pound sculpture arrived at Ursinus College, about 30 miles outside Philadelphia, a gift to the university from The Rockefeller Group. It was installed near the Berman Museum.

“We are delighted to receive this major gift, which signals the growth of our collection and programming at the museum,” Berman Museum Director Charlie Stainback said. “Just as it was a recognizable feature in New York City, so too will it be a place marker and meeting place on our campus, as well as a symbol of our commitment to showcasing the best examples of contemporary art.” 

So after more than 40 years standing on an extremely busy street corner in New York City, the sculpture has found a new home on the campus of a 1,400-student university.

I knew I could frame the scene so the sun’s rays would be visible in the photo so I dropped to one knee, angled the camera up so the surrounding buildings would be angled in and Cubed Curve would be in the lower left, then grabbed some shots.

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Photographs and text: Copyright - Pat D. Hemlepp. All rights reserved. Photographs may not be used without permission.

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