Watering the Art

As I wrote yesterday, Cor-Ten steel is a well-aging material, popularly used by artists like Richard Serra. While it decomposes to a degree, for the most part it holds up well and looks great to boot, particularly when exposed to seasonal weather conditions. However, in L.A., that seasonal weather thing is a bit of an issue. In case you haven’t heard, it never rains in Southern California

The problem for Ellsworth Kelly’s Curve XV, installed in the Director’s Roundtable Garden, is an atypical one in the conservation world. It needs care not because it’s been overly taxed by snow, rain, and wind, but rather because the elements here simply are not taxing enough.

Ellsworth Kelly, Curve XV, 1975, purchased with funds provided by the David E. Bright Bequest

To fix this non-problem sort of a problem, head objects conservator John Hirx connected with the facilities team to rig the sprinkler system to hit Curve and in turn, to encourage the rusting process. Still, since there are watering restrictions in L.A.—we’re only allowed to use automated sprinklers two days a week—Curve isn’t getting a whole lot of help. John tells me it’s already better off that it was before though, with a deepening rust that will only be enhanced with the passage of time.

Allison Agsten

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