[Edward Tufte], who shares 20 acres in Cheshire, Conn., with his wife, graphic design professor Inge Druckrey, and three golden retrievers, is a 1960 graduate of Beverly Hills High School. His late father was head of public works for that city, and his mother, a professor of English at USC for three decades, still lives in Beverly Hills. This is Tufte's first exhibition in California, and only the second time he has exhibited his sculpture. But he is no stranger to iffy new enterprises. Tufte, who taught at Princeton from 1967 to 1977 and Yale from 1977 to 1999, entered publishing in 1982, when an Ivy League university press agreed to publish his first book, then told him that someone else would design it and that the book would sell for more than $64. Tufte had other ideas. He wanted control of the design, and a lower price.
His specialty has been viewed as an ephemeral and secondary mode of communication but Tufte, as reviewers of his books have written, brings to it a scholar's rigor and broad view of historical precedent. "Flatland" is Tufte's term for the two-dimensional page and computer monitor. "Escaping this flatland," he has written, "is the essential task of envisioning information, for all the interesting worlds (physical, biological, imaginary, human) that we seek to understand are inevitably and happily multivariate in nature."
Like his graphics work, Tufte said, his art is about how a surface is imbued with information -- in this case, light dancing on steel, instead of ink fixed on paper. But as the artist is quick to say, the sculpture only stands up to so much conversation. "I think a lot of art chat is really reconstruction after the fact, trying to bring words to something that is inherently not a very verbal experience," said Tufte.