Now-Piotr Kowalski


Almost every day I’ve gone to campus I find myself walking passed a large sculpture near the University student Union (on the side with all the awkward heighted stairs leading to the Kin building). I would always look at it and have absolutely no idea what it was and I never found it to be very visually appealing. It just looked like three giant pieces of curved sheet metal. However, every day it caught my eye.

Upon further investigation, I discovered the name of this sculpture. Now by Piotr Kowalski. This sculpture was placed at CSULB in 1965, and the real wonder is how it was made. Kowalski was a Ukrainian sculptor highly interested in the formation of metal sculptures using machines. Now was created in possibly the most destructive way possible, with explosives. Kowalski contoured the three 25-foot-tall pieces of sheet steal by strapping explosives to them and lowering them in water and detonating the explosives. It’s a wonder there is even a sculpture left. However, his method yielded three beautifully contoured pieces of sheet steal which he then arranged to resemble the petals of a tulip. In addition to the creation of a work of art, the Long Beach International Sculpture Symposium, the North American Aviation Corporation, in El Toro, CA, adopted Kowalski’s method to aid their own experiments in forming metal sheets without dies, and the creation of Now provided vital data and information aiding their research.

I never would’ve thought that this sculpture resembled a tulip, but upon reading this the resemblance has been made much more clear (although I still find it abstract). To be honest, I always walked passed it thinking it was pretty ugly and just a couple pieces of weird looking metal. But researching how it was created in such a destructive fashion let me realize the beauty behind the sculpture. I found the comparison between the creation and the representation of the sculpture to be extremely interesting. Now was forged by destruction and explosives, yet it is arranged in a way to represent a delicate flower. What this could represent I’m not sure, but I like to think that it has something to do with the power that nature can hold, no matter how delicate it appears to be. At the very least, I’ll be able to walk passed it everyday and appreciate the artistry it took to create, and have a good story to tell.


  1. Ian Lococo

    I’m glad you chose to write about this sculpture, because I don’t think I would ever learned of its intriguing creation. Who would ever think that such organic looking pieces of metal, with the curves and smoothed edges, would have been created by detonating explosives underwater. After reading your analysis of the piece, which was very interesting dealing with the contrast between a delicate flower and explosives, I realized that maybe the artist was trying to show how powerful water is in creating the world we live in today. Water can be powerful as it crashes down in gigantic waves on the beach that erodes away at the earth or it can be used by flowers and other living things to grow. It’s both destructive and constructive.

  2. Christopher Fernandes

    This is so interesting! I’ve always been so confused by the art in CSULB, but too lazy to look up the significance. It’s nice to know what this means now, especially since I pass it almost every day going to my classes.

  3. Juna Ideo

    I also find this piece very interesting. At first, I didn’t know what it was, but during the SOAR orientation, I remember one of the advisors mentioned that this piece symbolizes a whale. I still don’t see how it can be a whale, but I like the abstract nature of this piece of art.

  4. SB

    Remember, what you see today is only a PART of the original sculpture. Originally it also had a mirror that tracked the moving sun and bounced extremely bright sunlight off the metal in the center, up into the “petals” so it looked like it was HOLDING a giant ball of sunlight.

    When I was s student there, then, the story was that black students union activists destroyed that mirror. Now there’s a different, more politically-correct reason given for loss of the mirror. Anyway, what you see today, although spectacular, is only a mere shadow of the original artwork with the ball of light inside.

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