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Barton Rubenstein

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Name  Barton Rubenstein
Role  Artist
Barton Rubenstein httpswwwartparkscouksculpturesculptorLRG
Born  1962Washington, DC
Notable work  Water, Kinetic and Standstill Sculptures
Education  Corcoran School of the Arts and Design, Weizmann Institute of Science, Haverford College

Barton rubenstein interviewed by connections education 2014

Barton Rubenstein (born 1962) is a modernist American sculptor. Rubenstein has focused most of his artistic efforts on themes related to water and kinetics. He lives in Maryland with his wife and three kids.


reach out 2015 barton rubenstein wind kinetic sculpture

Early life

His mother, Daryl Reich Rubenstein, was an art historian and curator at the Smithsonian institution. Rubenstein grew up in Washington, DC, attending Sidwell Friends School. He spent much of his childhood visiting museums in the United States and Europe. Led by his father, Lee Rubenstein, the family gained a reputation for creating large snow sculptures. Rubenstein spent much of his childhood creating projects with his hands, such as motorized go-carts. He also enjoyed sailing and canoeing, which he continues to this day. This has had a powering impact on his art.

First a Scientist

He went to Haverford College, Pennsylvania, where he received a BSc in Physics (1985) and a minor in art. At the time, Rubenstein had aspirations to be a scientist and received a full scholarship to attend the Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel. He first obtained a MSc in Mathematics and Computer Science (1990). He then continued with his doctoral studies, culminating in a PhD in neuroscience (1994). During his time at the Weizmann Institute, his research focused on the visual brain. With his advisor, Professor Dov Sagi, he was able to resolve a 30-year-old scientific dilemma, which tried to understand how the human visual system is able to effortlessly discriminate between different types of visual textures, such as tree bark. They published their findings in the Optical Society of America (1990). Another accomplishment of his laboratory was elucidating the learning process in the brain. It was determined that after practicing a visual task, a consolidation period of at least six hours was needed before any improvement occurs. The expressions, "cramming before a test will not be of any benefit" and "sleeping on it" are adages that are supported by this research. To further this research, Rubenstein and colleagues wondered whether a certain stage of sleep was responsible for this consolidation. Their findings, reported in the Journal of Science (1994), show conclusively that the consolidation of visually learned tasks occurs during the dream stage (REM). These findings began a resurgence in the study of sleep. Rubenstein and colleagues’s research has been further cited and discussed in various publications, including Scientific American and the New York Times.


With the possibility of a post doctorate position at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Rubenstein instead deferred for a year to begin creating metal sculpture. He enrolled at the Corcoran College of Art and Design for a semester to learn the techniques of welding, mold making, and the lost wax process. He created a body of sculptures incorporating water. These water sculptures launched him into the art world (1994), beginning a cascade of exhibitions and commissions in the United States and internationally. His work, primarily of stainless steel and bronze, is human scale and monumental in size.

In addition to his water sculptures, Rubenstein also creates wind kinetic sculpture. These sculptures use a novel design, invented by the artist, which creates a slow back-and-forth movement in his art. This movement has a dance-like quality and has been likened to the waltz. Rubenstein also creates what he calls "sculpture in suspension," which juxtaposes sculptural elements so they appear to be swooping across space and "ignoring gravity."

Among the modernist sculptors who have influenced Rubenstein are George Rickey and Henry Moore.

Honors and Awards

  • Rubenstein has been awarded numerous commissions as the result of national competitions. These projects range from academic institutions, hospitals, libraries, banks, veteran homes, and state projects.
  • 2005 Rubenstein served as member of a committee at the National Academies to design the next generation US currency. The redesigned $100 bill is the result of design change recommendations made by this committee.
  • 2010 Rubenstein received an official citation from the Maryland General Assembly for his contribution to public art.
  • References

    Barton Rubenstein Wikipedia

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