Structural stabilization of Beverly Pepper’s weathering steel sculpture

Christine Haynes


Beverly Pepper was the first artist to use weathering steel as a material in her sculptures. The material was first being used in railcars and architecture as a stable, corrosion-resistant metal that could be used outdoors without a coating or paint layer. Weathering steel creates a compact, stable corrosion layer when exposed to wet and dry cycles. However, prolonged water contact can cause delamination of the steel. This has led to extensive conservation treatment that has often involved rewelding new panels into the sculpture. Although structurally necessary, these can drastically change the surface appearance of the sculptures due to new material that ages differently and due to weld-burn in areas of repair. There have been minimal publications for treatment options on these types of sculptures. This paper will detail the structural conservation of Beverly Pepper’s Perizzites, 1972. The artwork is a proto-type, made from thinner sheet metal than her other artworks. It has been displayed outdoors resulting in severe losses and delamination to the weathering steel. The treatment uses innovative loss compensation and welding techniques in order to preserve original materials and original surface patina.

2022 | Los Angeles | Volume 29