"Têtes et Queue" by Alexander Calder (1965)

The surface of Alexander Calder’s monumental stabile has been completely renewed at least once in the past and has been exposed to the effects of weathering for decades. This resulted in moss, lichenification and traces of pitting in some areas, especially on and under the flange bases. Former graffiti and traces of its removal left diverse grey tones on the lower third of the sculpture. Additionally, the existing paint finish no longer offered protection from corrosion.

During the process of clearing the Neue Nationalgalerie for renovations, the sculpture had to be dismantled and put into storage. In consultation with the Calder Foundation, it was decided to remove the old layers of primer and paint from the entire surface of the sculpture, and to repaint it, using the system developed by the Foundation. In this way, corrosion protection could be renewed and the surface of the sculpture now appears uniformly matt black, corresponding to the artist’s intent.

Artwork © 2022 Calder Foundation, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Before the work’s dismantling, 2015 © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Nationalgalerie

Dismantling the work / Photo: Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Nationalgalerie
Dismantling the work © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Nationalgalerie

Dismantling the work © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Nationalgalerie

Corrosion under the flange bases and screws © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Nationalgalerie

Loading the work for transport to Ansbach / Photo: Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Nationalgalerie
Loading the work for transport to Ansbach © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Nationalgalerie

Loading the work for transport to Ansbach © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Nationalgalerie

Inside the Blach company’s paint chamber © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Nationalgalerie

Ready and awaiting transport back to Berlin / Photo: Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Nationalgalerie
Ready and awaiting transport back to Berlin © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Nationalgalerie

Ready and awaiting transport back to Berlin © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Nationalgalerie

Condition before restoration © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Nationalgalerie

Condition after restoration / Photo: Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Nationalgalerie
Condition after restoration © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Nationalgalerie

Condition after restoration © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Nationalgalerie

The work being installed in Berlin © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Nationalgalerie

The work being installed in Berlin / Photo: Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Nationalgalerie
The work being installed in Berlin © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Nationalgalerie

The work being installed in Berlin © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Nationalgalerie

Following the reinstallation of the work on the terrace at the Neue Nationalgalerie, 2 July 2021 © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Nationalgalerie


Project management: Hana Streicher, Restoration department of the Neue Nationalgalerie
Duration: 2015 bis 2021