Charles O. Perry (1929-2011) was a creator, an artist of many dimensions who ponders the wonderful mysteries of the universe. His large scale and monumental sculptures celebrate and question the laws of nature. His intuitive investigation of nature's variables provides the springboard for many of Perry's concepts. Believing that sculpture must stand on its own merit without need of explanation, Perry's work has an elegance of form that masks the mathematical complexity of its genesis.
Perry has always extolled the beauties of nature and the qualities of materials, beginning with watercolors of his native Montana, inventing equipment to improve his tour of duty in Korea, and celebrating Japanese reverence for natural materials. He returned to America to study art and architecture and explore the “what ifs” at Yale University in 1954. While at Yale, Joseph Albers, Chairman of the Art School, encouraged Perry to play with materials and to discover their true nature. As a student, he pondered the nature of the rhombus, resulting in the invention of a building brick that needed no mortar and was unrestricted by the limits of size. The concept was intuitive, the result was visual art. The piece was later shown at Spoleto's Festival, Italy, in 1969.
After graduating from Yale, Charles Perry practiced architecture in San Francisco, California with the firm of Skidmore, Owings, & Merrill, from 1958- 1963. During his architectural career he had developed many sculptural models and was offered a one-man sculpture show in San Francisco. At the same time, he won the Rome Prize, a prestigious award granted by the American Academy in Rome for two years study in Italy. Prior to leaving for Rome in 1964, he had secured two major sculpture commissions. "The basic difference in the discipline of architecture and sculpture is that one can't force a solution in sculpture, whereas in architecture, one can arrive at an apparent 'rational' solution through continual work." For Perry, the appropriateness of the form is the criteria for the final goal.
Since 1964, Perry concentrated on large scale public sculpture, the most prestigious of which stands in front of the National Air and Space Museum, in Washington, D.C. The piece, "Continuum", began as an exploration of the Moebius strip, product of pure mathematics formed by joining two ends of a strip of paper after giving one end a 180 degree twist, thus creating only one edge. The center of the bronze sculpture symbolizes a black hole, while the edge shows the flow of matter through the center from positive to negative space and back again in a continuum.
"When I set off to be an artist, I would avoid the arbitrary, esteem the orders of God in Nature, make forms that were beautiful, which appeared to have no author, forms you thought you had seen before; entwined with mathematics, geometry, topology, spinning, interlocking, always saying thank you God."
Charles Perry's sculptures are located in public spaces at Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH; Harvard University, Boston, MA; University of Connecticut at Storrs, CT; Zeimu University, Tokyo, Japan; Indiana University Art Museum, Bloomington, IN; General Electric headquarters, Fairfield, CT; IBM headquarters, Charlotte, NC; Shell Oil, Melbourne, Australia and Singapore. There are over one hundred major commissions throughout the world.
As an industrial designer, Perry has invented three unique IBD prize winning chairs. His patents on chair design are licensed to Krueger International, Steelcase, and Virco. Perry has designed various forms of art such as a collection of jewelry and silver objects for Tiffany, puzzles for the Museum of Modern Art, and a chess set which is in the Design Collection of MoMA. In recent years, Perry has frequently lectured on mathematics and art, in conferences throughout the world.