David Bakalar's Life Force Sculpture

Columbia University, New York, NY

Life Force by David Bakalar is located on the south side of the plaza that stretches over Amsterdam Avenue between 116th and 118th Streets on the campus of Columbia University in New York City. Life Force is an abstract bronze sculpture of a curved stem rising from the ground topped with a sphere.

Since its installation on the campus in 1992, protective coatings of wax and lacquer had weathered and become damaged. The sculpture’s smooth exterior surface with its, warm reddish bronze color had altered to a dark dull appearance. Conversely, dark interior spaces had also weathered resulting in the loss of the patina. Corrosion had developed where coatings had failed due to weathering or abrasion.

We were contracted to perform conservation treatment on the sculpture. The goals of the treatment were to clean the sculpture to remove old protective wax and lacquer, loose corrosion products, and apply a new protective lacquer coating.

A maintenance plan was created to increase the longevity of the conservation treatment and to help reduce future deterioration thereby reducing future costly conservation treatments.