Black Sphere, 1976
University of Chicago
Near the Brain Research Institute
5812 South Ellis Avenue
Human in scale and deceptively simple, Jene Highstein’s Black Sphere is 6 feet and 4 inches in diameter, weighs approximately 3000 pounds and sits directly on the ground. This is part of a series of large-scale black, round spheres that he produced in 1976-77. Black Sphere was created from the inside out; starting with a wooden or metal armature, Highstein would apply cement with a trowel until a somewhat uniform surface was achieved. Unlike the Minimalists working in the 1960s and 1970s, who tended to work with rectilinear or factory-made forms, Highstein’s work is handmade and irregular in shape and surface finish. According to the artist, the square is an “ideal form,” but “when you look at a curved form you’re not certain what the other side will be like. . . I deal with a spatial reality that can’t be grasped in its totality.”
Black Sphere was donated to the University of Chicago by the children of Mr. and Mrs. Edwin A. Bergman in honor of their 40th wedding anniversary. Mr. Bergman served as chairman of the University’s Board of Trustees. Jene Highstein was born in Baltimore in 1942 and studied philosophy at the University of Chicago. He took drawing courses at Midway Studios before moving to New York and establishing a studio in 1970.