Cyril Lixenberg: The Story of Steel Water

Dutch artist Cyril Lixenberg (b. 1932) was commissioned to create Steel Water, by the Grand Rapids Fluoridation Commemorative Committee and the West Michigan Dental Foundation. The monumental abstract sculpture, erected in 2007 on the downtown Grand Rapids riverfront, honors the City of Grand Rapids’ pioneering role in advancing global health in 1945 by becoming the world’s first city to fluoridate its public water supply.

The 33-foot tall sculpture made of blue painted corten steel is well known in Grand Rapids, but Lixenberg made several other objects that also bear the name Steel Water. The artist considers his graphic work to be inseparably linked to his three-dimensional sculptures. The drawings, screenprints, steel plates, and sculptural maquette within this exhibition reveal his process of exploring opposition in form, line, shape, orientation, and color. All works have been generously lent by Grand Valley State University.

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Cyril Lixenberg
(Dutch, b. 1932
Steel Water (detail), c. 2007

Photo © James L. Wieland

Lixenberg is a familiar member of Michigan’s artistic community. Steel Water is his third major public sculpture commission in West Michigan, and his prints and monumental steel works can be seen across Europe and the United States.

Cyril Lixenberg: The Story of Steel Water is part of a region-wide celebration of Lixenberg’s art and life. Satellite exhibitions of specific aspects of Lixenberg’s art will be shown at institutions across West Michigan, including Calvin College’s Center Art Gallery, the Muskegon Museum of Art, Saugatuck Center for the Arts, and GVSU.