Atom Leaded Glass "First Light" Sculpture
Lot 2146W
First Light Sculpture – Incomparable Sculpture High-Tech Glass from the Manhattan Project
US$ 100,000 - 125,000
£60,000 - 75,000
Auction Details
Natural History Los Angeles
22 May 2013 13:00 PDT

Auction 21217
Atom Leaded Glass "First Light" Sculpture
Lot Details
First Light Sculpture – Incomparable Sculpture High-Tech Glass from the Manhattan Project
Produced from an original reactor viewing window employed in the production of plutonium for the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki, glass artist Kent Lauer created this unique, award winning sculpture entitled, First Light.

Emitting an eerie yellow glow evoking its atomic origins, the 150-pound mushroom-cloud-shaped slab of lead-laden glass aptly expresses its provenance. The unsurpassed clarity of the glass was needed to allow viewing through many inches of the material in order to protect scientists from radioactivity. Surface scratches on the face of the sculpture originate from the historic use of the material; the artist chose to keep these intact.

Composed of 70% lead oxide, which produces its fascinating deep yellow color, the original atomic viewing windows spanned 16 inches wide by 26 inches tall and weighed 800 pounds. They were used at the Manhattan Project's Hanford Site located in Southeastern Washington. Subsequently purchased from the federal government by a metal salvage operator for its window casements, the glass passed through the hands of a collector and eventually to artist Kent Lauer, who immediately recognized the material's special significance. Despite the material's provenance, the material is not radioactive.

Known as the most ambitious weapons program in human history, the Manhattan Project ushered in a new era while closing another. According to Lauer, grasping the project's historical significance and recognizing its continued influence on our world remain central to our understanding of ourselves, the continuing evolution of human conflict and the dual nature of our creative capacity.

Illumination of the sculpture is provided by a powerful white LED light taken from the wing of a US military aircraft. The piece is displayed atop a 450-pound hexagonal column made from native basalt from the Manhattan Project's Hanford Site location.
Glass measures 12 x 13 x 6in. Overall measurements including glass: 67 x 41 x 14in
  1. Tom Lindgren
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