A weathered paint layer
K-piece stands close to the museum entrance and consists of shiny red-painted steel H-beams, which together form the letter ‘K’. Any paintwork that stands outdoors will become weathered over time. The paint layer, which gives K-piece its colour, also protects the underlying steel from corroding. To maintain this protective function, the paint layer of K-piece has already been renewed twice. The last paint layer is now 18 years old and shows obvious signs of ageing and various damages.
Research from Otterlo to New York
Prior to the actual conservation of K-piece, we carried out a lot of research. The most important question: which was the original shade of red used for K-piece? This was not directly identifiable due to the various repaints. After extensive research on the object itself and contact with the artist’s studio in New York, we managed to trace the original colour of K-piece.The original paint layer was laid bare and we compared this colour with the colour suggested by the studio. These colours were indeed a match.
Which paint system?
Finally, we’d traced the colour of K-piece. Now we had to decide which paint system would be suitable. After consulting with the paint industry (Akzo Nobel) and the paint-shop Spuiterij Boterenbrood B.V. we were able to choose the new paint system for K-piece. We chose a type of paint that is also used in the auto industry. This durable paint, a two component lacquer, is highly resistant to a variety of weather conditions.
K-piece to the paint-shop
Now the conservation work can finally begin. On 19 October, K-piece was disassembled and taken to the paint-shop in sections. You will be able to admire K-piece once again in our ‘front garden’ at the opening of the Barbara Hepworth exhibition on 28 November!
Nikki van Basten
Conservator of modern and contemporary art
Conservator of modern art and sculpture at the Kröller-Müller Museum