Saturday, February 21, 2009

Tangle toy sculpture | Richard Zawitz | Tangle Creations, United States of America | 1981

Richard Zawitz Tangle Richard Zawitz
Tangle Creations, United States of America, 1981

Richard X. Zawitz grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in the 1960s. It was there that his studies of Asian philosophy and art began with scholar, teacher, and mentor, Chan Wing-tsit. Like many of his era, he looked toward the far east for inspiration. In 1972, he graduated from the University of Hawaii with a major in Fine Arts Sculpture and sub-majors in Asian Art History and Asian Philosophy, with an emphasis on Chinese Taoism, Zen Buddhism, and Tantric and Cosmic Art.  Here is his personal online presence.

In travelling after graduation to Japan, India, Nepal, and Tibet, Zawitz encountered the “Tibetan infinite knot,” a pattern of interwoven lines with neither beginning nor end symbolic of infinite life, creation, and eternity. Forms that evoke cosmic energy and infinity such as helical twists and spirals are the cornerstone of much of his work.
Tibetan infinite knot

Two works of art led to the Tangle. The first, his graduate work in 1972, was the single spiral “First Twist.” The second, in 1975 was the double spiral “Column of Infinity.” A model of this second statue was constantly messed with by visitors to his studio, much like visitors to my abode mess with the Zawitz sculpture on my coffee table.

Tangle sculpture Zawitz Tangle toy sculpture on my coffee table.

Recognizing the magnetic power of his work, Zawitz endeavored to share it, while at the same time making everyone into a sculptor. The artist was transformed into toy inventor. He found a plastics factory in Asia that could deliver to his demanding specifications at an affordable price, he had molds made, and he began to manufacture his piece. He dubbed his work “Tangle” and dubbed the art of playing with it “tangling.”

He copyrighted the work in 1981 and applied for a patent in 1982. Requiring a utility for the patent, it was billed as an “Annular support device with pivotal segments.” Patent number 4,509,929, the first page and link to the complete patent shown below, was granted in 1985.  He started a company “Tangle Toys” which in 2008 became “Tangle Creations.” An article on Zawitz and the Tangle, “The Versatility of Vision” gives an interesting take on the artist.  Work of abstract sculptors with similar influences as Zawitz and compiled by C. H. Séquin can be found here.

Tangle patentThe first page of the United States “Annular support device with pivotal segments” patent, number 4,509,929.  The rest of the patent can be found here.

The Tangle has exploded into ubiquity with over 100 million sold worldwide. It is available in all different shapes, sizes, and colors, and as promotional items. The museum piece is approximately $70 and is composed of 17 interconnected bent, right angles 5 inches in length. It is made of chromed ABS plastic. You can spend a lot of time twisting and turning it into different shapes, making a striking table art display or centerpiece. You can also nest smaller versions inside of larger ones for a neat effect. The “Statue of Infinity,” shown below, is limited to an edition of 25 and is the largest scale work. Made of stainless steel, it takes four people to efficiently move.

Statue of Infinity 

Zawitz, in partnership with Pierandrei Associati, Technodelta Srl of Milano, and Baci & Abbracci have joined together to co-produce and launch a unique line of sculpture-based furniture and an innovative lighting system based on the sculpture of Richard Zawitz. Art, Sky and Sun (two armchairs and a lighting system) are the first results. Zawitz’ latest commission is for a new community development project in Dubai.

Tangle furniturePromotional image from Baci & Abbracci Design.


Thomson, J. (Winter, 2005). The versatility of vision. World Sculpture News, 11 (1), 32-35.

Share |

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I like it. Tangle just arrived in France and i love it!!!

Post a Comment

Related Posts with Thumbnails