Robert Bruno's Steel House
“The motivation here is really to do something that has some aesthetic value. I’m not particularly concerned about having a house. I build it because I like doing sculpture.”
Robert Bruno was discovered as an artist at the age of 15, after a family friend took a photograph of a muscular figure made of plaster and gesso in his bedroom in Mexico City. The photograph appeared in a magazine soon after. Bruno designed not only sculptures in his lifetime, but also jewelry, furniture, two houses and most profitably, an irrigation unit that conserved water and energy that was adopted across the Southwest and took in millions in revenue.
Bruno’s most famous work is the Steel House. Though not a trained architect, he drew inspiration from a steel sculpture he built in 1971. In 1973, construction of the Steel House began on the edge of Ransom Canyon, in rural Texas. The experimental structure of 110 tons of rusted steel was under construction for over 30 years, with Bruno not only designing but also building it himself with virtually no assistance and modifying it as he went, often tearing down portions that no longer pleased him. The privately-owned house was never fully completed, and remained unoccupied after Bruno’s death in 2008. Its futuristic design, unlike any of the homes around it, draws in occasional tourists and was the backdrop of a Vogue magazine campaign in 2013.
Few of Bruno’s work remains, there is no record or catalog of countless smaller works of jewelry, furniture and sculptures he created over his career, much of it is unaccounted for or lost altogether.
Photographs via Robertbruno.com and Vogue Magazine