Technique and condition
This replica is one of at least ten made in 1963/64 by the artist’s dealer, Arturo Schwartz. The prototype for the replica was developed from technical drawings and modelled in clay (drawings and model are owned by the Philadelphia Museum of Art). The replicas were probably manufactured in Europe by a sanitary ware manufacturer using a conventional slip-cast technique. The sculpture appears to be a hollow fired clay construction with a bluish white glaze typical of mass produced urinals. However the glaze does not appear to have been satisfactory and all the replicas were painted a dense white. The ‘R. Mutt, 1917’ inscription was reproduced in gloss black paint.
Prior to acquisition the sculpture was found to have been further over painted to disguise damage to one ‘wing’. Subsequent investigation showed that original paint layers, including a grey alkyd primer and titanium white alkyd top coat, were still present under several alternating layers of nitrocellulose paints and varnishes. These layers were identified by conservation scientist, Tom Learner, using PyGCMS and FTIR as part of the restoration treatment completed by Flavia Perugini in January 2000.
The underside of the sculpture is signed by the artist across the broken wing. A lacquered copper plate with engraved edition details is adhered to the centre of the underside. A similar plate was fixed to all replicas editioned at this time.
Flavia Perugini / Derek Pullen
April 2000 / October 2004