Preserving the mountain

Gerri Ann Strickler

Abstract

Outdoor sculpture in New England requires a financial commitment of annual maintenance that is difficult for some owners to bear. A unique sculpture in Lenox, Massachusetts, by Gaston Lachaise, La Montagne, is a good example of this kind of commitment. The larger than life concrete sculpture is the last in a series of reclining female figures by the artist.

Years of exposure have created a challenging multi-phase conservation project. Virtually no documentation about the original condition of the sculpture was available. The earliest phase consisted of an investigation into the artist’s materials and methods, followed by stabilization of the delaminating and friable concrete material. The future of the sculpture is yet to be fully determined. Issues surrounding the treatment include restrictions of the site, the unique nature of the deterioration stemming from method of construction and the artist’s intent, acceptable amount of annual maintenance, and degree of deterioration expected in a damp wooded environment. The most recent phase of treatment included designing a mount to both support the sculpture in-situ, as well as during transport if moved indoors in the future.

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