Jonathan Prince Experiments with Jello!

For the last several years, Jonathan Prince's work has explored the dialectical qualities of the physical states of matter and in particular, The Liquid State: the appearance of liquid fixed in a sculptural form, a body of work whose focus is that of materiality and physicality. Prince has continually captured these elusive qualities through a variety of iterations of the cube and column, investigating the ways in which physical and chemical effects can disrupt and morph seemingly reliable, geometric forms. Prince's new Jello Cubes capture this concept most acutely and viscerally.  

The focus of the work has been to capture the variations of form as Jell-O congeals and is agitated by an external force, after which the lively material continues to move, or jiggle, on its own accord. Gels are mostly liquid in nature but behave as a semi-solid material, due to a 3-D cross-linked molecular network with the liquid. Prince’s past works have been engaged with the elusive fluidity of light, but it is the process of liquid becoming solid that interests him in this new body of work. 

While the nature of gelatin—its natural process of becoming a solid form from a liquid state—aligned with Prince’s conceptual interests, it also provides a playful contrast to the weight of his explorations. Jello-O, with its robust colors and flavors, is in direct opposition to the earthly, geological forms for which the artist is often associated. This juxtaposition creates an exciting tension and curiosity regarding the associations this post-war dessert evokes.  

New Sculpture: Turbulence Column

While continuing to explore and expand the Liquid State series of sculpture, Turbulence Column is the first piece that investigates the ways in which physical effects of compression can disrupt and morph a seemingly reliable, geometric form.  

High Chromium Stainless Steel
85 x 19 x 19 inches | 216 x 48 x 48 cm

Click through to see photos of the sculpture as came into being: 

Vestigial Block: From Private Origins to Public Placement

The first time Jonathan Prince saw Richard Serra's Berlin Block (for Charlie Chaplin) 1978, he was astounded by its paradoxical qualities: the sculpture was simple in form but its massive scale, the presence it had and the attention it demanded, had a profound impact on Prince. It was completely transporting. 

Prince recalls feeling as though he had discovered not a modern sculptural object, but an artifact unearthed from the distant past. For Prince, the sculpture conveyed a visceral sense of mystery and time. That feeling of having been in the presence of something ancient and unknown was the inspiration for Prince's sculpture entitled Vestigial Block, and it is imbued with these complicated projections.  It is as though the CorTen steel from which it is made has worn away over time, exposing an inner surface filled with some other form of matter, a mysterious history yet to be discovered. 

Vestigial Block, a monumental work which came from private origins, has found its final home in a prominent, public collection. 

Richard Serra 
Berlin Block (For Charlie Chaplin)

Vestigial Block 
CorTen and Stainless Steel
6.25 x 6 x 6 feet 
Exhibition view, IBM Atrium, New York City 

Vestigial Block in the permanent collection of the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at MSU

Vestigial Block was acquired by Edward J. Minksoff in 2013 and donated to the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at MSU where it now sits in their permanent collection. In an article published that year, Robert Bao wrote, "'Sometimes the private sector can contribute significantly to institutional decisions, especially complicated ones,' says Minskoff, who, along with his wife Julie, donated $3 million to the MSU project along with a major Jonathan Prince sculpture and Jasper Johns print."  The full article can be read here

New Sculpture: Bump Block

Jonathan Prince is pleased to share a new work entitled Bump Block for the ongoing series Liquid State

Bump Block

Mirror Polished Bronze
12 x 12 x 12 inches | 30.5 x 30.5 x 30.5 cm
Edition of 3 plus 2 AP

Bump Block reflects the progression of an idea conceived within the digital domain with it’s physical realization  executed via a combination of the most advanced and ancient techniques of object creation.

I investigated the idea of creating the work with a fully digital processes before deciding that the look and feel I envisioned for the piece could only be accomplished by a combination of techniques and hundreds of hours of finishing handwork. 

The concept was first rendered using 3-D modeling software; the initial build of the sculpture was completed in resin using SLA rapid prototype / 3D printing ; and then the traditional lost wax techniques to mould and cast the form were utilized in the completion of this silicon bronze sculpture.

My desire in making Bump Block was to create a surface that I imagine to be a block of liquid metal - loosely holding its shape in a weightless environment - as if you took a cubical container of liquid with six removable sides in space and carefully removed each side leaving just the weightless liquid, the remaining form might resemble Bump Block.

This sculpture is another example of a solid object that appears to have all the surface characteristics of a liquid with the effect of movement / vibration as light and ambient reflections flicker over its surface.

Sculptural Seating for Corporate Lobby

Jonathan Prince is pleased to share images of the most recent edition to Function, a sculptural series of seating called Strata. Pictured here is Peak Sofa, Peak Sofa (Gold), and Peak Surround, the largest of the three pieces, installed in a corporate lobby in Houston, Texas. See the full production story here

Jonathan Prince with Peak Surround

Unearthing Southern Remnant

Jonathan Prince is drawn to artifacts and their power to mediate between history and contemporary culture. In viewing South, one of four geometric sculptures entitled North East South West (1981) by sculptor Michael Heizer, Prince felt as though he had come face to face with an unearthed, ancient relic. Heizer's tribal-like cone is able to communicate a sense of antiquity with that of the modern, and Prince has imbued this same essence into his monumental sculpture Southern Remnant, inspired by Heizer's South

South (1983), Michael Heizer

Prince's Southern Remnant is a part of the Liquid State series, which explores an extended conversation around geometric forms morphed and softened through the applied will of the artist. Fabricated by hand in heavy gauge stainless and CorTen steel, Prince's objective is to form the assumed geometric line into a new shape where only the barest vestiges of geometry remain. This also creates a new order of light reflections and thus an entirely different relationship between sculpture and environment. The form is no longer dormant as it has a dynamic dialog with light and space.

Southern Remnant Southern Remnant 
CorTn and High-Chromium Stainless Steel 
5 x 11 x 5 feet | 152 x 335 x 152 cm

Pictured at Christie's Sculpture Garden, New York, NY


See Southern Remnant take shape during the fabrication process: 

New Sculpture for the Liquid State Series: Cistern

The word cistern comes from the latin cista, which means box: a cistern is a waterproof container whose purpose is to hold liquid. To perpetuate the concepts investigated in  Liquid State - the illusion of fluid within a solid form - Jonathan Prince has manipulated stainless steel in a new way. In this sculpture, the geometry of the outer box, or cistern, appears to contain liquid as is its intended purpose. To engage the viewer further, Prince has experimented with both translucent and transparent color, as well as with the incorporation of holographic swirls created during the polishing process, thereby enhancing the illusion of liquid barely contained within solid geometry as if in a continuous state of becoming one or the other.


High chromium stainless steel / transparent color / translucent color 
7 x 14 x 14 inches 


Ruptured Column Inspired by Frida Kahlo

Ruptured Column is part of an ongoing series entitled Torn Steel and represents work that is engaged with the exploration of industrial processes and its application to art making. This piece in particular is fabricated with aircraft grade aluminum, and the form has been turned on a lathe utilizing a CNC (computer numeric control) machine, the surface of which was hardened at a commercial anodizing plant. 

Although these industrial steps play an integral role in the 'machine esthetic' of the sculpture, Ruptured Column represents hours of hand-work in the interfaces between each of the sculpture's five segments. Perhaps the most crucial aspect of this work is the idea that it was inspired and pays homage to the masterpiece The Broken Column (1944) by Frida Kahlo; in other words, Ruptured Column is a modern industrial impression and fabrication, yet is based upon a classic work of art. 

Ruptured Column from the series Torn Steel 

The Broken Column, Frida Kahlo (1944) 

Click through the process slideshow to see Ruptured Column take shape:

Wave Form Captures the Topography of Oceans

Jonathan Prince’s Wave Form series captures the topography of our oceans’ surfaces and the effects that weather has upon it in the solid form of stainless steel. Prince is working with data provided by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and NASA reuniting him with the two organizations he had previously worked with on the Hologlobe Project he created for the Smithsonian Institution.

"The connection to NOAA and NASA is important to me as I have a strong sense that the work will resonate with the scientific community as well as the art world and attract attention to the beauty and importance of our oceans."

Wave Form

High Chromium Stainless Steel 
8.5 x 44 x 24 inches | 22 x 112 x 61 cm

Bronze Wave I

Fabricated Silicon Bronze 
2.5 x 18 x 9.5 inches | 6 x 46 x 24 cm

Prince was the creator of the Hologlobe Project (1996) which was exhibited at The Smithsonian Museum of Natural History and served as principal investigator and program manager for the project in partnership with DARPA and NSF, NASA and NOAA.)

These animations were produced for the Smithsonian Institution's HoloGlobe Exhibit which opened to the public on August 10, 1996 at the Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC. The various data sets show progressive global change mapped onto a rotating globe and projected into space to create a holographic image of the Earth.

Seating for Lobby of New Corporate Headquarters

Jonathan Prince's New York  dealer, Cynthia Reeves, met with Gensler Design recently in Houston, Texas as an art consultant for their client ExxonMobil, who was interested in making acquisitions for their new headquarters.  After presenting Prince's work, Gensler, drawn to the geometric elements of Prince's sculpture, asked if he would be interested in designing the lobby seating for Exxon's new headquarters. 

Gensler sent conceptual imagery for the space, and Prince was immediately taken by the beauty of the stratified, geological landscapes they were showing and inspired by. The idea of designing a series of functional, sculptural seating elements loosely based upon the imagery was developed and is called the Strata Seating Series. See works in progress below. 

Jonathan Prince at Art Miami

We are pleased to announce that Jonathan Prince will show two works from his ongoing series entitled Liquid State with Cynthia Reeves Gallery at the Art Miami Pavilion during Art Basel this week.

Liquid State (Exhale)
Mirror Polished High Chromium Stainless Steel
22 x 22 x 22 inches | 56 x 56 x 56 cm
Edition of 5 + 1 AP

About Liquid State:

Jonathan Prince is in the process of developing an extended conversation around geometric forms morphed and softened through the applied will of the artist.  This new series of stainless steel sculptures is a manipulation of straight line and flat plane that gives rise to unexpectedly organic objects, despite their distinct origins as cube or sphere.  Each has been reduced from its initial, complete form, setting up an ironic tension in the work.

Prince recently commented: “A solitary object may be too limiting to fully investigate or communicate the complete story. I have been designing installations of object groupings that can fill a space and envelope the viewer in a type of environmental theatre -- one that allows the visual stimulus to extend past the solitary object and become more of a visceral experience.  The installation allows for the echoing, and rhythm of expression, of an idea to its fullest extent: a visual poem, so to speak, beyond single object.”

Liquid State (Inhale)
Mirror Polished High Chromium Stainless Steel
22 x 22 x 22 inches | 56 x 56 x 56 cm
Edition of 5 + 1 AP

In this extensive inquiry into form, and departure from form, he is challenging the ‘will’ of the steel. Fabricated by hand in heavy guage stainless steel, Prince’s objective is to bend the assumed line of cube or sphere to realize a new shape.  The molten surfaces, where only the barest vestiges of ‘cube’ or ‘sphere’ remain, creates a new order of light reflections and thus an entirely different relationship between sculpture and environment.  Light plays on these surfaces in a way that activates both the space and its surround.   The “cube” is no longer dormant, but has the potential for a dynamic dialog with light and space.

The current work, Liquid State, is a natural extrapolation of the Torn Steel inquiry. In lieu of tearing, he is now disrupting the pure form through molding, forming, and contouring.  The resulting undulating surfaces are counter-intuitive, given the inherent rigidity of the material – especially given the thickness of steel he employs.

In a recent essay, art critic Dorothy Joiner commented:  “One of Plato’s favorite sayings is:  God is always doing geometry.  Classic forms bear historical and symbolic associations… yet it would seem that Prince has spoiled Plato’s divinely perfect geometric forms.  He prefers a marriage of form and accident, or form and intentional morphing of form into something decidedly non-geometric.”   

Jonathan Prince has exhibited his sculptures at the Cynthia-Reeves gallery in New York City; and has had a series of important, recent public art installations in New York, including TORN STEEL at the 590 Madison Avenue Sculpture Garden; an installation at the 535 Madison Avenue Sculpture Plaza; an exhibition of G2V at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza at the United Nations; and, an exhibition of two black granite sculptures on Pier 64 at Hudson River Park.  One of these sculptures will travel for a two-year installation in San Diego, California; and an installation of his seminal work, Ellipsis, will be on view at the Whitehead Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts, next year.

Jonathan Prince’s Vestigial Block is on permanent view at the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University in East Lansing. The monumentally scaled sculpture is one of three currently on display as part of the museum’s Sculpture Garden, surrounding the new Zaha Hadid designed museum.

For more information on the series and the artist’s practice, please call 212 714 0044, or visit the online gallery at:

ART MIAMI  December 2-7, 2014  Booth A40.


Process: Works on Paper

In addition to creating compelling and innovative sculpture in metal and stone, Jonathan Prince also has a vast body of dynamic works on paper whose process is paramount to the final aesthetic of these one-of-a-kind pieces.  Prince has offered some insight into his creative process when making the Turbulence series: 

The Turbulence series has gone through several iterations prior to finding an effective technique for creating the work.

The initial piece is created on the computer and then printed with archival pigment on an ink jet printer at 70% of the final shading density that I am trying to achieve. Then - the borders of each of the different shading zones are lined with graphite to create a softened boundary between the shaded segments. The last stage is to brush each shade zone with several layers of a Sumi Ink wash to build the color to the desired density.

See more works from Turbulence here