Outdoor Painted Sculpture Project

Sculpture placed in an outdoor setting will inevitably change and the goal shifts from conservation of original coatings to preserving the artist’s intent for appearance.

Since 2001 Abigail Mack has worked steadily towards providing the art conservation community with more durable alternatives to traditional matte paints for outdoor sculpture. Now as a Contract Conservator for the Getty Conservation Institute’s Outdoor Painted Sculpture Project within the Modern and Contemporary Art Research Initiative, Mack continues to work with coatings scientists at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, partners in paint manufacturing, Calder Foundation, Nevelson Foundation, and Tony Smith Estate.

Conservation treatment of large-scale outdoor sculptures in Mack’s private practice provide valuable feedback for the development of new paints beyond laboratory testing. Factors involved in the retention of aesthetic qualities include: the physical impact of rigging, handling, transport, and installation; challenges with onsite application; interaction of high performance coatings with fillers or mixed metals; real time durability of adapted military coatings in an outdoor setting; and the effect of visitors.