Monday, June 30, 2014

Bronzed and buffed

Last week we had the chance in Berlin to visit one of those foundries that specialize in turning artworks into bronze. A couple of years back we watched Michael Parekowhai’s full size bronze elephant being poured, pieced together and finally (after a couple of guys removed a dozen or so sheets of corrugated iron) lifted by crane through the roof.

That was impressive of course but no need for a hired in crane at this German foundry.  Its scale was massive and mega-works could simply roll out the door. And it wasn't the typical medieval-feeling blackened workplace either. This foundry was all skylights and electronic hoists and suite after suite of workshops dedicated to particular parts of the process all wrapped up in an elegant purpose-designed concrete complex. 

As to the work the sent out their over large doors, how about life size casts of full-length full-grown pine tree trunks or a bronze sphere that needed scaffolding so two people could climb up and hand polish it (probably for the rest of their lives). And we did get to see a large chain-sawed wooden sculpture by Georg Baselitz and nearly Baselitz himself who had popped in to freshen it up with a splash of paint. It's a real test to dominate a busy workplace and that's just what the Baselitz sculpture managed. Its bronze doppelganger on the other hand was still in bits that were being scraped and welded and filed and polished in various parts of the foundry. Wood to bronze. Foundry magic.