Inside Lincoln Center: The Cleaning Experts

Classic Arts Features   Inside Lincoln Center: The Cleaning Experts
Adele Zydel-Harris looks at the delicate process of maintaining the art in Lincoln Center's plazas.

Once every two years, the outdoor sculptures on Lincoln Center's campus are cleaned by professional art conservationists. In the early 1980s, Artistic Consultant and Secretary of the Arts and Acquisitions Committee Delmar Hendricks engaged art conservationists Christine and Marc Roussel to provide a maintenance program for the three sculptures on the Lincoln Center plazas: Henry Moore's Reclining Figure, Alexander Calder's Le Guichet, and Yaacov Agam's Three X Three Interplay, as well as the rest of the art work in and around the Lincoln Center complex.

The Reclining Figure is a six-ton bronze sculpture that sits in the Reflecting Pool and is the largest sculpture on campus. A gift of the Albert A. List Foundation in 1962, it takes about a week to rig the scaffolding around the art work, pressure wash-off the pigeon droppings with a special detergent, and apply a custom-made formula wax coating to protect it.

Le Guichet, a gift of Mr. and Mrs. Howard Lipman in 1963, is a welded-steel sculpture located on the north plaza in front of the Library of the Performing Arts. Its spider-like figure takes the longest to complete because although the paint may only be chipped in some areas, the entire sculpture has to be hand painted (not spray-painted) with a primer and three coats of black paint. The Three X Three Interplay kinetic sculpture on the plaza area above the Alice Tully Hall entrance was a gift to The Juilliard School from Mr. and Mrs. George Jaffin in 1971, and is the most complicated to maintain. In addition to cleaning the stainless steel surface, the mechanisms inside the sculpture have to be lubricated or replaced when necessary so that the sculpture can be rotated on occasion.

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