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 Rockne Krebs  (1938 - 2011)

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Lived/Active: District Of Columbia/Virginia/Kansas/Missouri      Known for: laser art, installations, public art

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Rockne Krebs
An example of work by Rockne Krebs
© Estate of Rockne Krebs/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY See Details
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following information was provided by Heather Krebs, daughter of the artist.

ROCKNE KREBS
b: Kansas City, MO, 1938  
d: Washington, DC, 2011
1957 - 1961 BFA in sculpture; University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas
1962 - 1965  U.S. Navy Reserve, Lieutenant jg

AWARDS AND HONORS: 1968 - 1974
Washington Gallery of Modern Art, co-director of gallery artist workshop program; Artist Fellowship, 1969
Granted patent for laser beam reflective system; pioneered laser art in the 1960’s.  Granted patent in six countries for the first 3-D laser piece, first in the field.  Created the first out door laser art, urban-scale laser art, and scanned laser art with a digital memory. 1969
Cassandra Foundation, New York, NY; Grant Award, 1970
National Endowment for the Arts, Washington, DC; Visual Artist Fellowship, 1972   
Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, New York, NY; Artist Fellowship, 1973 - 1974
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Center for Advanced Visual Studies, Cambridge, MA, under György Kepes, founder of the Center for Advanced Visual Studies at M.I.T.; Research Fellowship, 1987
Florida Power & Light “Night Beautiful Award”; “The Illumination Engineering Society Award” for The Miami Line, public artwork, Miami, FL., 1989
Distinguished Merit Award, Maryland College of Art & Design; “Leadership on Behalf of Artists’ Rights”, 1994 - 1997
Artist Equity, National Vice President, 1996 - 2012
Selected for inclusion in Marquis Who’s Who in the World, 2003
Member, Sons of the American Revolution, Harry S. Truman Chapter, MO.

COMMISSIONS
1970 Stern Line, first ever urban-scale laser environment, commissioned by Mr. and Mrs. Philip M. Stern, Washington, DC.

1971 Rite de Passage, urban-scale laser installation, New Orleans Museum of Art, New Orleans, LA; honoring Mrs. Edith Stern.

1972 Light is the City at Night, Latter Center, New Orleans, LA.

1973 Sky Bridge Green, urban scale laser installation, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA.

1973 - 1976 Canis Major and Atlantis, laser and solar installations, Omni International Complex, Atlanta, GA. Developed natural light plan, which was designed into the architecture.  Atlantis, used sunlight and an arrangement of prisms to throw rainbow-like color on the facade.  On only two days a year, the spring and autumn equinoxes, the precise configuration of hundreds of prisms and sunlight created a portrait of his daughter’s eye, visible on the facade of the building.

1974 Spectral Drawings, AFL-CIO Labor Studies Center, Silver Spring, MD.

1975 The Laser and Star Board, Home on the Range, Part VI, St. Petersburg Arts Commission, St. Petersburg, FL. and the National Endowment for the Arts.

1976 Sun Dog, solar and laser installations. National Endowment for the Arts, for U.S. Bicentennial Expo Science and Technology, Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, FL.

1977 The One Night Stand, urban-scale laser installation, first ever laser with fireworks, Baltimore Inner Harbor, Baltimore, MD.

1978 Green Air – an environmental collage, urban-scale lasers, Fort Worth Art Museum, Fort Worth, TX.

1979 Still Green, urban-scale laser installation, Disneyland Hotel, Anaheim, CA.

1979 The White Tornado, Atrium, Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse, Topeka, KS.  Commissioned by the U.S. General Services Administration Art-in-Architecture Program.  An environmental sculpture 60 feet high with a tornado-like element on which white neon “lightning bolts” are placed to form a five-pointed star when viewed from below - sunlight, prisms, white neon, white painted aluminum, mirrors and scrim fabric.

1980 The Source, urban-scale laser installation, The National Mall, Washington, DC.  The 11th International Sculpture Conference Exhibition.

1980 Rainbow Green, U.S. Botanic Gardens, Washington, DC.  Commissioned by Washington Projects for the Arts and The National Endowment for the Arts.  Prism solar installation.

1982 The Green Verb, urban-scale laser installation, the Greater Columbus Arts Council’s annual Arts Festival, The Ohio Foundation on the Arts/Columbus.

1983 The Green Hypotenuse, 7-mile-long laser beam from Mt. Wilson to Caltech, Pasadena, CA. In conjunction with the exhibition, Rockne Krebs, "A Retrospective of Drawings, 1965-1982", and the installation sculpture piece, Crystal Oasis of the Winter Solstice, Baxter Art Gallery of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA.  Curated by Jay Belloli.

1983 Transparent Paper Airplanes, Miami International Airport, Concourse E, Miami, FL.  Commissioned by Metro-Dade Art in Public Places. Plexiglas airplanes hung from the ceiling, neon, and prisms; the work is spread over three spaces, its color effects changing throughout the year. 

1984 The Green Lady, urban-scale laser installation, Fountain Square, Cincinnati, OH.  Commissioned by the Cincinnati Contemporary Art Center.  Exhibition organized by Director Dennis Barrie.  Included traveling exhibition, Rockne Krebs, "A Retrospective of Drawings, 1965-1982", and the installation sculpture piece, Crystal Oasis of the Winter Solstice.

1985 Crystal Willow, glass and metal sculpture with prism-refracting leaves, marks the southern entrance to the business district, downtown Bethesda, MD.

1986 Madison Art Center, Madison, WI.  Urban-scale laser piece, art festival, Madison Festival of the Lakes.

1985 Laser Dance, interactive laser stage sets for the dancers and audience environment, Lisner Auditorium, Washington, DC.  Collaboration piece by Krebs, choreographer Maida Withers and composer Bob Boilen. 

1987 The Miami Line, urban-scale neon sculpture, one-quarter mile long neon on both sides of the bridge over the Miami River in downtown Miami, FL.

1987 Neo-Green, urban-scale laser installation, Memorial Art Gallery, and The University of Rochester, Rochester, NY.

1989 Inclined Planes, urban-scale laser installation, Johnstown, PA.  Honoring the Johnstown’s 1889 Flood Centennial Commemoration.

1992 The Magic Wand, urban-scale laser installation, Long Beach, CA.  Commissioned by the Arts Council for Long Beach, duration December 1992 through the fall of 1997.

1993 The Red River Bridge, laser, searchlights, fiber optics and neon, bridge over the Red River between Shreveport and Bossier City, LA.  Commissioned by the Shreveport Regional Arts Council.

1994 Pegasus Cloud Projection, urban-scale lasers, Sacramento, CA.

1996 CNN Center, Atlanta, GA.  Restored 1976 laser piece, Canis Major, in what was originally the Omni International Complex and added Good Luck World for the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, GA.  Good Luck World, computer animated laser projection on the CNN Center atrium ceiling, 100’ x 150’.

1996 Good Luck World, Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis, IN.  Urban-scale, four laser piece and Good Luck World, computer animated laser projection piece.

2001 Mr. Belloli’s Universe, assemblage of laser light and night, urban-scale laser installation for The Universe exhibition, Amory Center for the Arts, Pasadena, CA.

2005 Day Star, The Children’s Inn at the National Institute of Health, NIH, Bethesda, MD.  A sun piece with 180 prisms, neon, large Plexiglas mobile with lily pads, clouds and four-leaf clovers, and a wall painting.

SOLO EXHIBITIONS  (selected)
1968
University of Maryland, College Park, MD. Sculpture Minus Object and Plexiglas sculptures. 
Jefferson Place Gallery, Washington, DC.  Rockne Krebs, Plexiglas sculptures.
Tyler School of Art, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA. Curated by James Sterrit.

1969
Jefferson Place Gallery, Washington, DC.  Energy Structures.

1971
Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York, Rockne Krebs, Day Passage and Night Passage.  Curated by James N. Wood, catalogue and essay by James N. Wood.

Jefferson Place Gallery, Washington, DC. Photon Structures.  Laser piece, Sky Bridge, spectral pieces, Plexiglas sculpture, drawings and film by Ed Kelly.

1973
Galerie Simone Stern, New Orleans, LA.  Sunflowers, spectral piece, Plexiglas sculptures, and drawings. Jefferson Place Gallery, Washington, DC.  365 Drawings and Home on the Range.

1974
National Academy of Science, Washington, DC.  Curated by Lee Kimchie.  Drawings and Plexiglas sculptures.
University of Maryland, College Park, MD. The Study: Home on the Range, Part IV. Pyramid Galleries Ltd., Washington, DC. For Sale: Home on the Range, Part V.

1976
James Yu Gallery, New York, NY.  For Sale: Home on the Range, Part V, A Christmas Piece and Laser Environment.

1977
Custom House, New York, NY.  The Equestrian in Manhattan, Home on the Range VI, camera-obscura piece.  Curated by Anita O’Neill, commissioned by Creative Time, Inc.
Arnold Gallery, Atlanta, Georgia.  Drawings and Studies for Works at Omni International.  Drawing and sculpture studies for Atlantis and Canis Major.

1978
The Fort Worth Art Museum, Fort Worth, TX.  Light on Fort Worth.
Fraser’s Stable, Washington, DC.  Home of the Range.

1981
Middendorf/Lane Gallery, Washington, DC.  Rockne Krebs, The Spectral Horse.

1983
Baxter Art Gallery of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA.  Rockne Krebs, A Retrospective of Drawings, 1965-1982, the installation sculpture piece, Crystal Oasis of the Winter Solstice, and The Green Hypotenuse, 7-mile-long laser beam from Mt. Wilson to Caltech. Curated by Jay Belloli. Traveling exhibition.

1984
The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.  Rockne Krebs, A Retrospective of Drawings, 1965-1982, and the installation sculpture piece, Crystal Oasis of the Winter Solstice.
Diane Brown Gallery, New York, NY.  Rockne Krebs Drawings and Crystal Oasis Solar Pieces.

1989
Mapplethorpe Projections on the facade of The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, cover of Artforum magazine. Part of the demonstration protesting the museum's cancellation of the Mapplethorpe retrospective, and against censorship in the arts in general.

2001
Gallery K, Washington, DC.  Rockne Krebs, Drawings and Sculptures.

COLLECTIONS
American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center, Washington, DC
Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, New York
Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
Georgia Museum of Art, Athens, Georgia
Joslyn Art Museum, Omaha, Nebraska
Memorial Art Gallery, Rochester, New York
Metro-Dade County Aviation Department, Miami, Florida
Phillips Collection, Washington, DC
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC
Spencer Museum of Art, Lawrence, Kansas
Trinity University, San Antonio, Texas
Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Woodward Foundation, Washington, DC.  XIX, 1967, Plexiglas sculpture
Permanent Public Artwork
Crystal Willow, Bethesda, MD.
Day Star, The Children’s Inn at the National Institute of Health, NIH, Bethesda, MD. 
The Miami Line, Miami, FL.
The Red River Bridge, Shreveport, LA.
Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Woodward Foundation, Washington, DC.  XIX, 1967, Plexiglas sculpture

PERMANENT PUBLIC ARTWORK
Crystal Willow, Bethesda, MD.
Day Star, Children’s Inn at the National Institute of Health, NIH, Bethesda, MD. 
The Miami Line, Miami, FL.
The Red River Bridge, Shreveport, LA.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:22 Magazine Articles/Reviews

Art in America, 1990-July, "Public Art & the Public Purse, Miami" Joselit, David   

ARTnews, 1981-October, "Seven Washington Artists", Moser, Charlotte   

Art in America, 1981-Septemberm "Rockne Krebs at Middendorf/Lane, The Spectral Horse",  Tannous, David 

ARTnews, 1980-September, "It Takes More Than An Outdoor Site To Make Sculpture Public", Forgey, Benjamin   

Art in America, 1979-July, "Midwest Art: A Special Report", McFadden, Sarah   

Art in America, 1978-July, "Those Who Stay", Tannous, David   

ARTnews, 1977-February, "New York Reviews". Frank, Peter   

ARTFORUM, 1977-May, "New York Reviews", Moore, Alan   

Art in America, 1977-November, "New York Reviews", McFadden, Sarah   

Arts Magazine, 1977-April, "Art Reviews", Gordon, Michael   

Art International, 1974-May, "Rockne Krebs: Three Works", Felshin, Nina   

Art in America, 1973-September, "Rockne Krebs at the Philadelphia Museum of Art", Forgey, Benjamin   

ARTFORUM, 1971-October, "The Multimillion Dollar Art Boondoggie", Kozloff, Max   

Studio International, 1971-April, "An Introduction to Art and Technology", Tuchman, Maurice   

Art International,  1970-May, "Three Washington Artists: Gilliam Krebs McGowin", Hopps, Walter; Felshin Osnos, Nina  

Art in America, 1970-March, "America at Expo ’70 in Osaka, Japan, Art and Technology", Tuchman, Maurice 

Arts Magazine, 1970-January, "Washington Letter", Davis, Douglas  

Art International, 1969-December, "The Washington Scene", Benson, Legrace G.   

Art in America, 1968-March, "A Gallery Without Walls", Rose, Barbara   

ARTFORUM, 1968-March, "Washington", Hudson, Andrew  

The New Yorker, 1967-October, "The Art World", Rosenberg, Harold   

ARTnews, 1967-October, "Reviews and Previews", Tucker, Marcia   


This biography from the Archives of AskART:
ROCKNE KREBS OBITUARY, 10/10/11
Rockne Krebs, December 24, 1938 – October 10, 2011

The noted art and technology artist Rockne Krebs died on October 10 in Washington, D.C., where he had lived most of his life since the early 1960s, and in Burgess, Virginia.  Krebs was widely recognized for his monumental sculptural installations with laser light, a new technology when he began to explore its potential for art in the early ‘60s.  He created the vast majority of his laser works for specific outdoor locations. 

Some of his most important installations were on the Mall in Washington, D.C., at the Kennedy Space Center, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, and a line of laser light from Mt. Wilson in California (where the universe was discovered at the observatory in the 1920s) to the campus of the California Institute of Technology. 

But Krebs also worked in a variety of media, including neon (in installations on large bridges in Miami and Shreveport, Louisiana), sunlight, and camera obscura. A solar piece using glass prisms in the Omni International building in downtown Atlanta was calibrated to the changing angle of the sun so that on the equinoxes an eye (based on that of his daughter Heather) appeared on the wall of the building's atrium.  The artist also created a number of sculptures that combined prisms.  One of his camera obscura installations inspired an exhibition of light, film and video environments at Walker Art Center organized by then Director Martin Friedman.  Krebs also did major public works for the Miami International Airport and for the General Services Administration in Topeka, Kansas. 

One of Krebs' early innovative installations was created for the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., including a laser and sunlight piece, Ra, in which a fog machine made the laser light more visible.  In addition to a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in 1970, he artist received a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship in 1972 to focus on drawing, and this medium became an important creative exploration for him for the rest of his life, including his last years.  A retrospective of his drawings was shown at Caltech and at the Corcoran in the 1980s.  During the 1960s and 1970s Krebs showed his work at the respected Jefferson Place Gallery in Washington, DC. 

Krebs became deeply involved in artist's issues in Washington, working with an organization that approached a number of the important museums in the city to encourage them to show more work by artists in the area.  He was one of the founding board members of the Washington Project on the Arts, which was founded to provide more exhibition space for area artists. 

Krebs' initial approach to sculpture was to eliminate its materiality, and in a number of his early 1960s works were geometric forms in clear Plexiglas.  Laser light was his next step in creating sculptural works that had no solid form.  His ground-breaking works in this medium led to his inclusion in the famous Art and Technology project and subsequent exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.  In the research period worked with the engineers at Hewlett Packard.  Later he was the first artist to create a work with digital memory that could project words or moving images in laser light.  His interest in technology and science led to a lifelong friendship with Philip M. Smith, Science Advisor to President Carter and, later, Director of the National Academy of Sciences.

Krebs was born in Kansa City, Missouri, and received his B.F.A. in Sculpture from the University of Kansas.  Philip Smith recently made a gift of a number of the artists' finest drawings and sculptures to the Spencer Art Museum.  Krebs is also represented in the Corcoran Gallery of Art collection, as well as the collections of other important art institutions.  A book on his art and its key role in the rise of art and technology is being written by Jay Belloli, a curator who worked with the artist on a number of laser installations and exhibitions.

Submitted by Heather Krebs, daughter of the artist.  This was an obituary of the artist, written by Jay Belloli, who as stated above, is writing a book about Rockne Krebs.


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