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"Skypiece" by David Black (1972)

Skypiece was conceived by American artist David Black in 1971–72, within the context of his DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) fellowship, to be installed in the sculpture garden water basin. Its restoration and partial new production was an unusual and challenging project.

Many components of the sculpture had been so seriously altered by ageing and weathering that restoration was not possible. In consultation with the artist, via his son Eric Black, it was decided to produce new editions of these components, replicating the originals as closely as possible and employing more durable materials. Some of the original components could be retained and restored. The restoration project was made possible by the Wüstenrotstiftung.

Historical photograph, c. 1972 © Archiv Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin

Photograph showing the significantly weathered artwork in storage, April 2017 © Anke Klusmeier, Berlin 2017

The extent of corrosion on the steel components first became visible after the stainless steel cladding had been removed. Structural considerations also played a role in the decision not to use the internal framework. © Anke Klusmeier, Berlin

The internal framework and base plate have been reconstructed out of stainless steel to avoid future corrosion. The original stainless steel cladding and other stainless steel components could be retained. © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Nationalgalerie / Hana Streicher 2021

Replacement components being produced using thermoforming with a mould taken from the original component. © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Nationalgalerie / Hana Streicher 2021

Components that were originally produced from polycarbonate, and had meanwhile become opaque and severely discoloured due to UV exposure, have been remanufactured out of acrylic glass because of its superior ageing characteristics in outdoor applications. © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Nationalgalerie / Hana Streicher 2021

Six large hollow objects are shown being assembled out of laser-cut, and in some cases thermoformed, individual parts for glueing. © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Nationalgalerie / Hana Streicher 2021

Six large hollow objects are shown being assembled out of laser-cut, and in some cases thermoformed, individual parts for glueing. © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Nationalgalerie / Hana Streicher 2021

The spectacular moment when the crane lifted the entire upper section of Skypiece, weighing some 700 kg, and set it precisely on the metal supports. © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Nationalgalerie / Hana Streicher 2021

The spectacular moment when the crane lifted the entire upper section of Skypiece, weighing some 700 kg, and set it precisely on the metal supports. © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Nationalgalerie / Hana Streicher 2021

The installation of the heavy components. Fifty-eight individual large and small plastic components were threaded onto sixteen metal bars on site. All connections had to be air and watertight to prevent dirt from entering the interior spaces.

The installation of the heavy components. Fifty-eight individual large and small plastic components were threaded onto sixteen metal bars on site. All connections had to be air and watertight to prevent dirt from entering the interior spaces. © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Nationalgalerie / Hana Streicher 2021

Installing the sculpture, 28 July 2021 © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Nationalgalerie / Hana Streicher 2021

Photograph showing the new installation © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Nationalgalerie / Hana Streicher 2021


Project management: Hana Streicher, Neue Nationalgalerie Berlin
Planning / Coordination: Anke Klusmeier
Implementation: Eysenschneyder company, Berlin, Nordform-Kunsstoffe company, Norderstedt, Germany
Duration: 2017 to 2021