Peter Carlson: The Genius Behind Modern Sculpture

Described in Christie’s auction program as “one of the most recognizable images in today’s canon of art history,” Jeff Koon’s "Balloon Dog" set a world record in 2013 with an auction price of $58.4 million--the highest amount ever paid for a work by a living artist.
It is worth noting that Highland Hall alum, Peter Carlson, class of ‘67, is credited with having manufactured Balloon Dog as well as many other of Koon’s pieces. Carlson’s team of engineers took four and a half years to produce the first Balloon Dog which stands 12 ft. tall and is made from highly polished stainless steel.
“At the time, the technology didn’t exist to produce the piece, so we had to develop it ourselves….Two other companies had tried and failed.” One of the requirements of the commissioned piece was to have a mirror-like reflection. “We had to develop testing techniques to ensure that the reflection was optically perfect." Another challenge was to add color to the stainless steel--which was “nearly impossible because nothing adheres to it.” The team worked with a chemist to develop an adhesion promoter so that they could apply tinted urethane to the steel. The result of their efforts was worth it. “Balloon Dog” has become an iconic piece of contemporary art. 
Since beginning his career in the 1970's Peter has risen to become one of the world's leading fabricators of large scale art. Carlson Arts LLC, located in Sun Valley, CA, is one of the few manufacturing facilities that have the technical expertise and machine capacity to build large scale pieces.  The company's work can be found virtually all over the globe in museums, civic buildings, corporate buildings, and public parks. Over the years Carlson has had the opportunity to work closely with renowned artists such as Isamu Noguchi, Christian Moeller, Tony Tasset, as well as Jeff Koons and dozens of other leading artists and designers. 

Carlson Arts recent projects include Christian Moeller’s “Hands," Tony Tasset’s 94 ft. “Rainbow,” and the restoration of Buckminster Fuller’s “Fly Eye Dome." Carlson credits his Waldorf education as critical to his success. “I am absolutely convinced that the education I received at Highland Hall was instrumental to my success in this field. It has allowed me to approach problems creatively and work collaboratively with all types of people—artists, engineers, architects as well as machinists.”
CarlsonArts, located in Sun Valley, provides design development, 3D scanning and modeling, large scale CNC milling, and custom machining. More information about CarlsonArts can be found at