Once an engineer


Journal Article

Henry Petroski explains how engineers in the past have become great artists. Manierre Dawson, a civil engineer who was making abstract paintings as early as 1910, before Kandinsky and other better-known modem artists were. The most celebrated engineer-turned-artist of the 20th century was Alexander Calder. Mastery of the engineering sciences is essential to designing and analyzing large things that stand without breaking and groups of things that move without crashing. The engineering sciences of statics and dynamics provided the principles behind stabiles and mobiles, respectively, for which the artist Alexander Calder would become famous. Calder's instructional drawing of his pelican was surrounded by technical notes regarding the nature of its motion, the position of its seat, the strength of its parts, and the function of a spring and a dowel used in its assembly. Among the many different people who viewed Calder's mobiles was the artist and poet Jean Arp.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Petroski, H

Published Date

  • July 1, 2009

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 97 / 4

Start / End Page

  • 282 - 285

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0003-0996

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1511/2009.79.282

Citation Source

  • Scopus