Yayoi Kusama’s HYMN OF LIFE: TULIPS (2007) is a fiberglass sculpture installed at Beverly Gardens Park in Beverly Hills.
The sculpture suffers from water damage and fractures throughout.
It was decided that the piece would be removed and an exact reproduction in stainless steel would take its place. This was a highly technical project that involved the commissioned foundry working with engineers, city officials, and Kusama’s gallery in Tokyo.
The foundry brought us on board to digitally capture the original sculpture down to the last detail, consolidate the data into a 3D model, and optimize the model for wax casting. Lastly, we would step back in at the end of the project to reproduce the paint on the cast stainless steel. Once complete, the two versions would be identical in every way.
For scanning, we employed color LiDar to digitally capture the sculpture. Scans were taken at 12 different positions to guarantee a complete mapping of the area.
The scan data was then aligned into a coherent model that contained both geometry and approximate color. In any scan, there will always be incomplete areas. Those obscured details were modelled back in by a digital sculptor utilizing reference photography.
Once the model was complete, we scribed in lines for all the “dots” so that we’d have registration marks for our painters.
Finally, we 3D printed a maquette and sat down with the foundry to discuss the cut up. This was the most critical stage because a well-conceived cut up saves immense time on molding, casting, and assembly.
Together we decided on temporary cross bracing to prevent torqueing of the wax, keys throughout to orient the twisting stems, registration marks to insure alignment, and a strategy to cope with the complex assembly of the flower bulb.
The project continues and we can’t wait to get those gleaming, steel flowers into our paint booth.
Special thanks to all involved for entrusting us with this important work!