Charles Ginnever, whose striking metal sculptures can be seen on museum grounds, in parks, outside public buildings and dotting college campuses all over the United States, died on June 16 at his farm in Putney, Vt. He was 87.
Mr. Ginnever, working largely in steel, made massive geometric forms that often seemed to defy gravity — giant squares or slabs appearing to float in the air or balance precariously on a point.
His works were deliberately made to be walked around; viewing them from multiple angles gave dramatically different experiences. He was among a group of sculptors who expanded the view of sculpture from something that sits on a pedestal to something that inhabits and interacts with space on a grand scale.
His works have intrigued countless people, whether visitors contemplating them at the Storm King Art Center in Mountainville, N.Y., or bicyclists zipping by them in Riverside Park in Manhattan.
Charles Albert Ginnever was born on Aug. 28, 1931, in San Mateo, Calif. After service in the National Guard, he studied in France and Italy for several years. He returned to the United States in 1955, earning a bachelor’s degree at the California Institute of Fine Arts in 1957.
Accepting a teaching position at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., he drove across the country to get there. At Cornell, Mr. Ginnever taught art and earmed a master’s degree in 1959.
Mr. Ginnever began making sculpture in the late 1950s, at first working with found materials like railroad ties.
Two of his sculptures were included in “Sculpture in Environment,” an ambitious deployment of works in 1967 by more than two dozen artists in public spaces throughout New York City. (His were in Carl Schurz Park, along the East River.) It was one of the city’s first public-art efforts.
Almost 50 years later, in 2014, his “High Rise” and “Medusa” were exhibited in Riverside Park. “Medusa,” a 1986 work, was inspired by a 1974 visit to Stonehenge in England, where he observed late-afternoon shadows forming parallelograms. He photographed them and used them as the basis for a series of pieces.
Mr. Ginnever’s marriages to Mikell Jaquysh, Ronnie Weiss and Susan Prather ended in divorce. He is survived by a daughter from his marriage to Ms. Weiss, Jodi Ginnever; a daughter from his marriage to Ms. Prather, Chloe Ginnever; a grandson; and a step-granddaughter.