Bel-Jon Mosaic Restoration—Private

Pfizer World Headquarters, New York, NY

Our conservators treated the large scale mosaic by Nikos Bel-Jon entitled “Medical Research Through the Ages” in 1997, 2001, and 2011. The 18’ X 40’ curved metallic mosaic in the pharmaceutical firm’s headquarters lobby depicts figures and symbols of the advance of chemistry and medicine through the ages. Patinated and polished sheets of copper, brass, stainless steel and aluminum are fitted to produce the figures clustered around a central group of beakers and retorts of aluminum sheets. The artist developed additional images of chemical and biological industry using a unique technique of drawing on the aluminum sheets by selective sanding and polishing. The whole is set in a field of thousands of polished stainless steel tesserae. The innovative techniques produced astounding and unusual effects, particularly when lighted with colored and shifting spotlights as the artist intended.

Eventually, however, the asphaltic bedding adhesive used to hold the thin metal sheets to their plywood backing began to dry and crack, causing individual tesserae and large aluminum panels to become loose and detach.

Conservators re-adhered tesserae and panels and recreated those that had been lost. Finishes were recreated with chemical patination and re-polishing. After replacement of the coating, the treatment was documented in a report illustrating all work campaigns and the treatment of each individual tesserae.