Antony Gormley

Antony Gormley

Chord, 2016

905 stainless steel elements of varying section sizes and 541 stainless steel balls


1706 x 321 x 341 cm

Commissioned with MIT Percent-for-Art Funds


Antony Gormley’s Chord (2015) comprises thirty-three polyhedrons welded together and reaching vertically from the floor of Building 2 to the skylight, four stories above. Light passes through the open spaces of the sculpture, and also reflects off the slender rods and nodes that form each unit. Yet, the seemingly delicate and airy form is, in fact, fashioned from 1700 pounds of polished stainless steel.


The sculpture was installed on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the building, which was designed by architect William Welles Bosworth and combines stylistic elements referencing both ancient Greek structures and twentieth-century industrial steel constructions. Chord is situated at the busy intersection of MIT’s Mathematics and Chemistry Departments and fills the open well of Bosworth’s austere staircase. Gormley’s irregular and dynamic polyhedral column counters the regular and even intervals of the stairs through which it ascends.


In 2008, the artist began creating what he refers to as “cellular polyhedral sculptures,” works that reside within the tension between the organic and inorganic. Polyhedrons are abstract and geometric forms that occur in nature—manifesting, for example, as the segments of a turtle shell, or the hexagonal honeycombs of beehives. Polyhedral forms are also important in nanotechnology, serving as the architectural frames used to assemble synthetic DNA sequences. Chord, with its interplay of light and shadow, celebrates the crystalline and organic cellular structures that comprise the geometry of life.


Chord was realized as a percent-for-art project in association with the renovations by Ann Beha Architects that were undertaken on Building 2, which comprises a part of MIT’s Main Group complex.


Building Number: 2

Accession Number: PFA.2016.001