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A sculpture of a strip of gold metal mounted in a wooden block.

The sculpture of gold metal is mounted horizontally in a wooden block. The metal rises vertically, it is a single thin strip split a short distance from the block, the split is widened slightly as it rises. The metal strips are gently twisted as the strip rises and are joined at the top.

Gallery Text

In Zurich in the mid-1930s the Bauhaus-trained artist Max Bill became one of the principal proponents of concrete art, which holds that painting and sculpture should be constructed entirely of planes and colors and reference only the forms and materials from which they are composed. Concrete artworks are often characterized by glossy surfaces and precise, geometric shapes. Bill designed the first version of this sculpture in 1953 and produced others of varying sizes over the next decades. He adapted the notion of an endless surface from the Möbius strip. Instead of simply folding the sculptural form, he altered the concept by presenting a flat column split through the middle, twisted, and then rejoined. The twisting form and long notch create a shifting, multifaceted articulation of space while the highly polished reflective surface produces a shimmering array of optical effects as the viewer moves around it.

Identification and Creation

Object Number
Max Bill, Swiss (Winterthur, Switzerland 1908 - 1994 Berlin, Germany)
Endless Surface in the Form of a Column
Other Titles
Original Language Title: Unendliche Fläche in Form einer Säule
Work Type
Persistent Link


Level 1, Room 1110, Modern and Contemporary Art, Mid–century Abstraction II
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Physical Descriptions

Gold-plated bronze on wooden base
with base: 275 x 38 x 37.5 cm (108 1/4 x 14 15/16 x 14 3/4 in.)
without base: 238.1 x 12 cm (93 3/4 x 4 3/4 in.)
base: 37 x 38 x 37.5 cm (14 9/16 x 14 15/16 x 14 3/4 in.)

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Busch-Reisinger Museum, Gift of a Group of Friends of the Museum
© Estate of Max Bill / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Accession Year
Object Number
Modern and Contemporary Art

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Publication History

  • Peter Nisbet and Emilie Norris, Busch-Reisinger Museum: History and Holdings, Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 1991), p. 94, ill.
  • Celka Straughn, Stratification: An Installation of Works since 1960, brochure, Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 2005), [n.p.] ill. (color)
  • Peter Nisbet and Joseph Koerner, The Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard University Art Museums, ed. Peter Nisbet, Harvard University Art Museums and Scala Publishers Ltd. (Cambridge, MA and London, England, 2007), p. 73

Exhibition History

  • 19th- and 20th-Century Paintings and Sculpture from the Museum's Collection, Busch-Reisinger Museum, Cambridge, 06/11/1980 - 08/31/1980
  • Modern Art at Harvard, Bunkamura Museum of Art, Tokyo, 07/31/1999 - 09/26/1999; Takamatsu City Museum of Art, Kagawa, 10/09/1999 - 11/14/1999; Matsuzakaya Art Museum, Nagoya, 12/02/1999 - 12/27/1999; Oita City Museum, Oita, 01/06/2000 - 02/06/2000; Museum of Modern Art, Ibaraki, Ibaraki, 02/11/2000 - 03/26/2000
  • Stratification: An Installation of Works since 1960, Busch-Reisinger Museum, 09/17/2005 - 02/26/2006
  • 32Q: 1110 Mid-Century Abstraction II (Post-Painterly Abstraction), Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/16/2014 - 01/01/2050

Subjects and Contexts

  • The Bauhaus

Verification Level

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