Born in Evanston, Illinois, in 1935, Minimalist sculptor Antoni Milkowski was influenced at a young age by his sculptor uncle Victor Adams. Milkowski grew up in New York City and attended the Rudolf Steiner School where he learned woodcarving and clay modeling. The artist received a degree in biology from Kenyon College in 1957. After flirting with the idea of becoming a doctor, Milkowski joined the United States Marine Corps. Upon his return, he enrolled at Hunter College, completing a master’s degree in 1964. There he studied with well-known sculptors Tony Smith and George Sugarman, whose work is also represented at Lynden. After graduation, Milkowski won a Fulbright grant to study at the Art Academy in Warsaw, Poland. This opportunity marked his life and changed the way that he created art. While in Poland he was invited to participate in the Biennial of Forms in Space, which took place in Elglab, Poland. This was the first time that any Biennial commissioned welded steel pieces to be permanently installed in public places. All of the artists were allowed to select their sites, and the sculptures were fabricated free of charge using steel scraps. The Biennial presented Milkowski with his first large scale public art experience. Once back in New York City, the artist took an adjunct teaching position at Hunter College, and a position as a recreation arts instructor for the Parks Department. He was still fascinated by his encounter with large-scale public art, and acquired a studio in Salem, New York where he could work on a large scale. It was here that he created Salem No. 7.
Salem No. 7 is part of a series of geometric works based on unpainted modular units. The artist, who first created cardboard studies for his works, produced a maquette for Salem No. 7 during the summer of 1966. Salems No. 5, No. 3 and No. 1 followed. Salem No. 7 and Salem No. 5 are named after the place where they were made and the number of modules of which they are composed. Salem No. 7 is composed of six identical cube-shaped modules, in addition to one hidden or imaginary module in the interior of the piece. The piece is placed so that only the points of cubes touch the ground. This emphasizes the work’s diagonals, as well as providing an illusion of weightlessness and an appearance of grace that would not be possible if the piece was resting flat on the ground. Although Milkowski was not able to come to install the work at the Sculpture Garden, he was excited about the juxtaposition of his work’s hard geometry with the garden’s landscape. There are three copies of Salem No. 7. One was commissioned by the New York State Council of the Arts and sits on the South Mall in Albany. Mrs. Bradley purchased the third of the copies for the garden.