The GCI's Scientific Program is collaborating with the Swedish Corrosion Institute in Stockholm to address some of the issues relating to corrosion of copper alloy surface coatings such as brass on metallic substrates. As part of the research, the GCI has established a testing station within the J. Paul Getty Museum grounds in Malibu, where metallic coupons, of internationally approved dimensions, are exposed to the ambient environment.
The research project was instigated in an effort to evaluate metallic substrates and organic coatings that could be used in the restoration and conservation of the Constantin Brancusi sculpture The Infinite Column. The sculpture, erected in the 1930s in Tirgu-Jiu, Romania, is one of the most famous examples of Brancusi's work and forms part of a unique assemblage of outdoor sculptures in Tirgu-Jiu that includes The Table of Silence and The Gate of Kisses. The results of the collaborative research will enable the GCI to provide advice to the Romanian authorities who are planning to dismantle the sculpture for inspection and conservation.
Brancusi coated the sculpture with a thermally sprayed brass finish that corroded badly, and the sculpture now suffers from deterioration of this coating, corrosion of the underlying cast iron panels, deterioration of the internal steel support structure, and failure of the old organic protective coating applied to the outer surface. The principal aim of the restoration process planned by the authorities will be to maintain the artistic integrity of the structure while restoring it to an appearance in keeping with the artist's original aesthetic.