‘Lucent’ by Wolfgang Buttress
Photo: Susan Aurinko

How many stars can you see in the night sky with your naked eye? No, it’s not a riddle. It’s the question the acclaimed British artist Wolfgang Buttress asked while creating the sculpture Lucent, now permanently hanging in the lobby of the John Hancock Center. Working with an astrophysicist from Australian National University, Buttress determined the number to be 3,115—which, not coincidentally, matches the number of light bulbs in his massive new piece. Buttress’s first major artwork on U.S. soil, Lucent measures 13 feet in diameter, with glass orbs creating a proportionally accurate 3D map of the stars visible in the Northern Hemisphere. “I wanted to express this idea of looking up and sensing wonder,” says Buttress. “You can look at the piece and lose yourself.”