January 31, 2016 4:27pm
During my walk around CSULB’s campus like thousands of other students, I have passed this seemingly random orange and brown sculpture many times before. Whether I was trekking my way to the bookstore or the library from lower campus, I have always found myself walking by this interesting piece of art and wondering about where it had come from as well as the history behind it. Upon researching the piece, I have discovered it is apart of the twenty-one sculptures included within the established CSULB Outdoor Sculpture Collection. Prior to becoming apart of what is now CSULB’s collection, it was one of the nine original pieces in the Monumental Sculpture Collection recognized in the summer of 1965. It was a product of The California International Sculpture Symposium that was organized by Israeli artist Kosso Eloul in coordination with a CSULB sculpture professor named Kenneth Glenn. This was the first symposium held in the U.S. as well as the first on a college campus. The goal was to pair artists from around the world with local people from industry and to create abstract and monumental pieces. This particular piece known as Duet was created by Robert Murray in the Bethlehem Steel shipyard of San Pedro.
Since its placement in 1965, the Duet has shown many significant signs of wear and tear from peeling paint to massive structural issues. Last year our campus’s University Art Museum paired up with The Getty Conservation Institute to help conserve the collection. Duet became the first piece of many to be treated. The darker piece we see today was originally a lighter peachy orange. It was a difficult case for The Getty Conservation Institute but they were able to get the piece as close as possible to the original color by carefully examining archival photographs and taking a cross section of the paint. In this cross section, fourteen different layers were found. This was a good indication of how much the paint had actually faded over time. And although we can try to restore the piece to its original condition, it will never go back in time to how it once was before. Placing another layer of fresh new paint on top will not change the layers beneath it nor the history it has created.