Jon Isherwood "The Fibonacci Duet"

December 30, 2020

Jon Isherwood "The Fibonacci Duet"

If you look close enough, it’s there—in cauliflower, sunflowers and nautilus shells. It’s been witnessed as far back as the art of Ancient Egypt and is still seen in the work of modern-day artists. It is found in the patterns of nature—from the arrangement of seeds to the swirl of galaxies—and is a method artists and designers use for providing balance, order and harmony to an aesthetic object.

Named after the Italian mathematician, the Fibonacci Sequence inspires Jon Isherwood’s newest artwork in the Sculpture Park, located at Capital One Center in Tysons.

Isherwood’s The Fibonacci Duet (2020) is inspired by the mathematical rule whereby each number in the sequence is the sum of the two numbers that precede it—0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8 and on to infinity. The Fibonacci Sequence has been used by artists for centuries, including Leonardo da Vinci during the Renaissance and into the 21st century by artists such as Sol Lewitt

In line with his other works, Isherwood uses the duality between digital and handmade methods to his advantage in The Fibonacci Duet. Instead of chiseling and carving by hand, Isherwood pioneered a new way of carving stone using computer-numerical controlled (CNC) machines—allowing for precise fabrication of his three-dimensional forms and surfaces.

Each sculpture begins as a drawing and then becomes, as Isherwood describes, a conversation between the hand, the tool and the computer.

“For me, it’s about exploration,” explains Isherwood. “I enjoy that stuff, I really enjoy being in the studio and playing and pushing ideas around.”

With inspiration from sculptors Henry Moore and Anthony Caro as well as the art critic Clement Greenberg, Isherwood makes sculptures that explore gesture, physicality and materiality. In the late 1980s, he worked for a time with architect Frank Gehry and learned how to play with materials and think about space in a new way.

In the 1990s, he traveled to Italy to work with marble and other stones, much like the granite sculptures made for Sculpture Park.

Composed of two granite forms that each weigh approximately 10,000 pounds, the work replaces the previous Michael Dunbar sculptures and will be on loan through 2021.

Looking for a fun way to talk with your kids about the Fibonacci Sequence? Here's a science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) lesson that weaves together all of the above.

Isherwood, who was born in Yorkshire, England, earned his BA from Canterbury College of Art in 1983 and MFA from Syracuse University in 1987. In 2003, the University of New York at Plattsburgh awarded him an honorary doctorate. Isherwood has exhibited his work extensively around the world, including a solo exhibition at the DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park in Boston. The artist lives and works in the Hudson Valley and runs the sculpture program at Bennington College in Vermont.

Isherwood is also the founder of the Digital Stone Project, a non-profit he began in 2005. In 2012, with an aim to “create and grow a network of artists working in stone for the 21st century," Isherwood partnered with Garfagnana Innovazione, an Italian-based organization which specializes in digital fabrication, carving and marble processing. Annually, Isherwood and Garfagnana Innovazione sponsor artist residencies in the Tuscany region of Italy.


To find out more about Isherwood, watch the artist lecture about his work.

EXTENDED INTERVIEW VIDEO: