© 2019 Rika Smith McNally & Associates

Contemporary Art
Paul McCarthy, Sisters

Sculptor Paul McCarthy's Sisters, on loan to the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, required washing and waxing before it was returned to the owner. The massive sculpture, cast in multiple pieces at the Walla Walla Foundry, was in good condition but footprints, dirt, leaves, and small sticks needed to be removed and a fresh protective coating of wax applied. The work was done on site over a period of one week and required lifts and extension poles for access to the top sections. The entire sculpture was returned in excellent condition.

Tony Smith, For Marjorie, MIT campus

Tony Smith's painted steel sculpture For Marjorie, made in 1977, is over 30 feet in height and is permanently sited on the MIT campus. The sculpture was in good structural condition, but the original paint was no longer extant due to multiple repaintings. The most recent paint was the wrong color and had faded. Examination and research included paint analysis, examination of the interior, and research carried out with MIT curators and with the director of the Tony Smith Estate. After additional consultation with colleagues, the original color and correct sheen was applied with a high-performance paint system, by a specialized industrial painter experienced in working on sculpture.

Louise Nevelson, Untitled

Louise Nevelson's untitled painted wood sculpture was in good structural condition but had small isolated areas of paint flaking and paint loss, and the surface was dusty. The sculpture was gently cleaned and lifting paint set down using Beva D-8 Dispersion, a heat spatula, and a soft neoprene tool. Isolated areas of paint loss were toned with reversible color to match the original. 

Martin Boyce, Through Layers and Leaves (Closer and Closer), MIT Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research Building

Photo credit MIT List Museum

Photo credit MIT List Museum

Often publicly-sited indoor installations require only periodic gentle cleaning. Martin Boyce's Through Layers and Leaves (Closer and Closer) made in 2011 out of galvanized mild steel, epoxy paint, and acid-etched brass is loc ture had collected dust, minor spills from coffee, and a few accidental paint drips from nearby wall painting. The work was carefully dusted, and coffee and paint drips removed. The space remains very actively used as a reception area, a gathering spot, and a tour group location, requiring that the sculpture is cared for annually.