Take a drive to Sellwood, grab a coffee to-go at Living Room Coffeehouse, stroll the neighborhood blocks, and you just might run into Julian Voss-Andreae’s humble Sellwood studio. While Voss-Andreae is a fellow member of the SE Portland community, who shops at the local Freddy’s and visits seasonal farmers markets, he is also a globally revered sculpturist and physicist, who spearheaded the concept of “quantum sculptures.”
So, when the sky clears, the artist is known to open the garage door and work on his sculptures in the driveway of the 6,000 sq. ft. studio. You might catch magic in the making!
For an inside look at Voss’ distinctive artistic approach, let’s travel back 40 years. In 1982, TIME Magazine altered its annual traditions of awarding “Man of the Year” and named the personal computer “Machine of the Year.” As it be, this was the year Juliane Voss-Andreae, age 12, picked up his computer programming hobby. By 16, he also picked up drawing and painting, followed by a deep interest in quantum physics in his 20s. Voss-Andreaerode the idea of using mathematics in design and sculpting, studying quantum physics and philosophy at the University of Berlin and the University of Edinburgh.
During his postgraduate studies at the University of Vienna, he participated in a seminal experiment, researching “Wave–particle duality of C60 molecules” which ended up inspiring a handful of future art pieces. Following his studies, he officially coined the concept of “quantum sculptures” which are constructed of metal plates, defining cross-sections of the human figure depicted. In other words, Voss’ human figure sculptures can “disappear when seen from different visual perspectives, due to the way light reflects at different angles on the metal ‘slices.’”
A picture is worth a thousand words! Check out the below example to see Voss’ concept in action.
The Scientific Method
These quantum sculptures seem to disappear from certain angles, due to light reflection on the metal “slices.” Voss-Andreae explains, “in quantum physics, an object is described as wavefronts running perpendicular to its direction of movement. The metal plates of his sculptures represent these wavefronts.”
Selected Works: Portland and Beyond
“Quantum Man” – Zürich, Switzerland
The Quantum man is one of many spread across the globe and Voaa-Andreae’s most famous piece. The example below was curated for a private residence in Zürich. However, other Quantum “Men” can be found in Portland, Australia, Canada, and multiple locations across Washington state.
“It looks solid from both sides, but directly from one angle, it seems to disappear. And I felt this was a really interesting connection with how quantum physics tells us that everything depends on your perspective.” – Voss-Andreae
“Isabelle”– Palm Springs, California
“By day she is sought to capture the brilliant sun and beautiful colors of the Coachella Valley through the polished stainless steel. By night, enhances by an elaborate integrated custom lighting system, the sculpture will play on the glitz and glamor or Palm Springs’ vibrant nightlife” – Voss-Andreae
“Poly” – Atlanta, Georgia
“Agave Dreams” – Texas Tech University"The sculpture depicts a female figure, kneeling on the earth with outstretched hands touching the ground. Sheltered between her hands grows a live agave, a plant with a history of deep significance to the native peoples in the area. Through her gesture of blessing the plant, Agave Dreams encourages us to question our attitude toward nature and the entire web of life. The mindset of separating subject and object, of detaching ourselves from nature, and of dividing the world into small parts assuming this will lead to an understanding of the whole, is contrasted with a holistic dream that seeks to integrate human physical and spiritual needs with the rest of creation by recognizing both as fundamentally one.” –Voss-Andreae
“Transparent Man” – Fürth, Germany
For Voss-Andreae’s complete portfolio and updates on upcoming projects, visit his website here.